Stop Acid Attacks: The Way Forward

Picking up pieces of your life after any sort of violent attack is a process that requires courage, resilience and strong support. Picking up the pieces of your life after an attack that scars your face for life in a way visible to all those around you, is even harder.

Acid attacks are a sickening global phenomenon. In India, there has been next to no support for victims or critical data analysis of acid attacks. Often, the attacks are disregarded, as the woman’s honour is ‘in question,’ leading to no support from the police or community. At that point, the woman’s life is often considered ‘finished.’ The survivors face a harrowing life of isolation, shame and often years of painful reconstructive surgery.

One campaign, Stop Acid Attacks is changing all of that. Launched just over a year ago, the initiative works to provide victims the support they need to remind them they are not alone and that there is life after being attacked.

Neem_Life After Acid

We are especially impressed by their well-rounded call to action, pushing people to engage within their own communities. We would like to highlight a few of their initiatives:

Breaking the Silence

  • Creating a safe space and community for women to share their stories, break their silence on their own shame and express themselves is the first powerful step to healing.
  • Recently, Sneha Jawale, a victim of acid attack and constant violence took part in the India run of the award winning play, Nirbhaya and the fact that acid attacks are now coming into the light on a national scale is a strong positive step for movement.
  • Another shining example is Laxmi, an acid attack survivor who helped found SAA, she recently received  the US Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage award by Michelle Obama.

Spot of Shame
Pushed mostly on their very active Facebook page, here they work with ‘spot of shame’ campaign to mark an area where a heinous crime against a woman is committed. The marking of the spot is also accompanied with a brief demonstration and silent protest to explain the people of the presence of the stamp.

Chhanv
Chhanv is the first abode for acid attack fighters, inaugurated in May, 2013, Chhanv exists to provide a shelter & rehabilitation to acid attack survivors who are undergoing treatment in New Delhi. The entire centre is run and managed by acid attack survivors who have found their voice and ability to move on with their lives, providing inspiration and hope for those who come to the center.

Resources
The Stop Acid Attacks website provides information on medical and legal advice to victims of acid attack as well as direct access to those in need of immediate help.

If you would like to get involved with this campaign, you could contribute to their bitgiving campaign for Chhanv here for those in India, and here if you are outside of India. You can also volunteer at the center itself, and get in touch with them at stopacidattacks@gmail.com for any other volunteer opportunities they might need.

The idea behind their campaign is not only to garner funds, but to help people be part of a community who stand up and support the survivors. Change starts with us.

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