The beauty of a woman lies not in her looks but in her courage, is what acid attack survivor Lakshmi has proved to the world. This 24 years old brave-heart is an inspiration to many women who have become victims to the malicious acts of some ruthless people. But Lakshmi does not consider herself as a victim but she has emerged as a fighter.
The accident has taken away her beautiful face but has given her a new life and a new identity. Born and brought up in an impoverished family in New Delhi, Lakshmi like many other girls of her age had woven beautiful dreams. She was a wonderful singer. At a very tender age, even as a student a class 7, Lakshmi would spend hours singing but never felt tired of it. She recorded her songs and sent them to talent hunt competitions. She was waiting for a call from “Indian Idol”.
The fateful day
Lakshmi’s father worked as a chef in a South Delhi home. She became friends with a girl in her neighbourhood and it was then when she got stalked by the girl’s 32 years old brother. He soon started proposing to her and sent her messages saying that he was in love with her and demanded an instant reply. Lakshmi ignored his messages. The result of her rejection of the proposal has left a permanent scar on her face. The man who had claimed of being in love with her had shown the most vicious form of a human by attacking her with acid while she was waiting at a bus stop located in the famous Khan market. He was in connivance with his sister who was Lakshmi’s friend. The duo ran away leaving the poor girl to die on the road. She screamed for help whimpering in pain but no one stepped forth.
The acid has melted her face and her ears very quickly. A politician’s driver came to her rescue and admitted her in a hospital where she stayed for the next 10 weeks. She has undergone more than ten major surgeries. The mental trauma that she has gone through for more than 8 years is scarier than a nightmare. She had to stay indoors all the time and none of her relatives or friends have ever come to see her. The beast who took away her beauty was let out on bail to enjoy freedom. He got married and returned to his normal life just within a month. But for what he had done to Lakshmi, even a lifetime wouldn’t be sufficient to bring her to normalcy. She tried to pick up a job but got nothing but rejection. “People will get scared if they see you” is what she was told when she approached for a job at some places.
The hurdles ahead
The world seemed so unwelcoming to her. With a hundred questions in her mind, she felt like all the doors have been shut for her. The only support system she had was her family, her doctor and her lawyer. She had received great help from the couple at whose house her father worked. They paid for her surgeries and are still with her giving her support and boosting her spirit. It was only when Lakshmi and her family were recovering from the attack that her brother came down with tuberculosis and adding to this grief, her father passed away. For the second time, Lakshmi faced a big blow and was totally shattered. She became the sole bread earner for the family.
Even after so many difficulties, fate must have played its wicked game but it could not dwindle her courage. She pursued her case in the court. Her lawyer filed a petition in the Supreme Court asking for a ban on the sale of acid. She thought of many other women who have gone through the same pain and agony that she had gone through. Slowly, she got in contact with other victims who lost their vision and hearing. They were poor and helpless, like her. They couldn’t afford to buy a new face for themselves. The society had not accepted them and instead of helping them, they just made the world around them look darker for these victims. The undeterred young woman Lakshmi did not lose hope. She started an online petition and received great support when 27,000 people signed it. She submitted the form to the Home Minister and was successful in putting her assaulter behind the bars for a term of seven years. Her fight for justice is not over.
Emerging as a Fighter
She has taken a vow to fight on behalf of every woman who has become a victim of acid attack. Her legal fight will continue until justice is done to every victim. The Supreme Court has ordered states to pay Rs.3 Lakh as compensation. But this wouldn’t suffice the medical costs for the umpteen numbers of surgeries that these victims undergo. She started a campaign called “Stop Acid Attacks” and has received enormous support from public and also from many celebrities and political figures. Lakshmi was awarded the “International woman of the year 2014” by US First Lady Michelle Obama, for the great work she has been doing in the support of acid attack survivors.
Lakshmi, is the Director of Chhanv, a support center for acid attack survivors in India.These women here are putting all their efforts to make their lives better. All they expect from this world is some support and a smile when we look at them. They have dreams like every other person and they also keep the courage to make their dreams come true. They are the superwomen of our country and every citizen of this country is proud of them.