ACID ATTACKERS SHOT FOR CALENDER
Today was one of the proudest moments for the acid attack fighters and Stop Acid Attack Campaign as they launched a beautiful calendar which not only depicts outer beauty but inner beauty as well. The calendar portrays many acid attack fighters and shows a glimpse of their ambitions or their achievement in their lives. For example: Sonia Choudhary is being seen doing make-up as she is a make-up artist, Geeta aspires to be a chef; Nitu aspires to be a singer and so on.
Stop Acid Attack Campaign started right after Nirbhaya case in 2012 during which people started to focus much on such grave issues. Acid attack was one of the issues that people started to notice and talk about during that year otherwise it didn’t even come into picture. Even the government didn’t have any laws against it or any data about people who have been attacked. It is only in the year of 2013, under section 326 A and 326 B some amendments against acid attacks were made.
The people behind the campaign realised that this section needs more attention since the women who have been affected by it are living pathetic lives. It was the need of the hour to bring focus and right to live for these women whose lives has come to a dead end. The campaign started with profiling of and creating data on a website about the acid attack fighters then a page was made on Facebook where people started to support and talk about it in wider sense.
Launched on 8th March 2013, the campaign showed a ray of hope for everyone. So, the campaign travelled to places where incidents such as rape, acid attack or even eve-teasing happened and started to interact with people informing them that if they would have raised a voice against the violence, no matter where it happens, things wouldn’t have come so far.
Further, they also worked upon rehabilitation of these women, the inspiring result is Sheroes Cafe in Agra- which not only became a place for the acid attack survivors/fighters to display their work but also became a place where women could come and talk about anything and everything which was not so common before. Now soon they are planning to do the same in Kanpur. The campaign is focusing completely on empowering these women and even the message behind the calendar is the same, to bring these women in mainstream society.
The calendar is being shot by Ashish Shukla, Rahul Saharan, Surabhi Jaisawal and Pascal Mannaerts
During the event we also had the opportunity to speak to the five fighters present at the venue, Nitu is 23 years old, was attacked by her own father some 20 years back. Not only her but even her mother was attacked by the same man. Bearing the scars and the pain for 20 long years, Nitu and Geeta (Nitu’s mother) say that there life is beginning to change after they have got associated with the campaign. “We now walk with pride and are not being cursed for things we were even a reason for. I have forgiven my attacker, my husband and till now living with him. Earlier, he would beat me, drag me into fights and what not but now he is really scared of the fact that I have a voice which would be heard now” says Geeta, a 44 years old woman who aspires to become a chef.
Sonia Choudhary, a 30 years old high-spirited shero (she-hero)proudly shares about her experience of being shot in the calendar, “Whenever we hear a calendar shoot, it is mostly done by some models or actress, but this calendar is special. It is special for two reasons, one that the models in it are acid attack fighters and secondly, the calendar is a message that people should start looking into the inner beauty rather than going for the physical looks. It was an amazing experience to be shot for this calendar and not for a moment we felt we are bad at it. In fact, I will say that we were so confident and perfect with everything probably the camera man wasn’t well equipped (laughing).”
Dolly who is just 14 years old was attacked by a young boy about a year and a half back at her own place just because she threatened him for eve teasing. It is overwhelming to see her smiling and being glad about the fact that she is being interviewed and has just modelled for the calendar. “I got in touch with this campaign around New Year and life has changed a lot since then. I would think to commit suicide but these people and my family has given me immense strength and confidence to live. I aspire to be a doctor, especially a surgeon, who can treat people who goes through such incidents in life.” The charm on her face and the light of hope in her eyes is a pleasure to witness.
And last but not the least was Rupa, upcoming designer, who has designed for critically acclaimed movie- Haider, gifted a waist coat to Manish Malhotra and has many orders to work on. “I was attacked by my step-mother in 2008 when I was just 15 years old. My friend who was associated with this campaign informed me about it when I was taking treatment in Safdarjung Hospital, so I joined in on 11th March 2013. Since then life has been really different. I move out with confidence and not scared about what people think about me.” Says Rupa.
There is a lot to be done. A law to be created and implemented to teach people that nothing of such sorts would be taken lightly and criminals would be given punishment no matter what and most importantly the mindset across the globe needs a change. The fact that even after gravest crime the crime rate isn’t going down, in fact rising up every day- signals how fearless we are about our government. So once there is implementation of laws automatically things would fall into place. Yes, education and awareness is important, but there has to be done much more now.