By Esha Vaish:
In a highly progressive nation like India where talks of women equality make the paper every day and matriarchal societies dominant in the Southern and Eastern regions, the inconsistency in transforming the ideology of women empowerment into reality hints at hypocrisy in the fundamental beliefs of society.
Hidden by the din of the joyous celebrations of the festive season are the screams of a woman being attacked in the confines of her own house. Amongst the atrocities faced by women is a crime that not only mentally traumatises by disfigures the victim for society to witness. Acid attacks scars women across the country every year. As per data collected by Acid Survivors Foundation, 110 women were scarred by acid attacks in 2010. They further conclude that there had been a significant increase in the acid attacks on women since the previous year.
Although Sections 320, 322, 325, 326 of the Indian Penal Code address cases of acid attacks, it is believed that they are insufficient to tackle the grave situation. While the causes for acid attacks on women range from resistance to sexual advances, marriage proposals to inability to fulfil dowry demands, the true scarring for the victim occurs due to the unfavourable response of society.
To tackle this problem, acid attack survivor Shirin Juwaley set up an NGO in Mumbai called Palash Foundation. Disfigured by her husband at 24 for demanding a divorce, on Asia Calling she says, “It was so bad that when I would go for walks in the evening in my own building, children would get scared and run away from me.”
In face of such social stigma and discrimination, acid victims are traumatised further. The question remains. When will the India government and society wake up and take firm actions to curb these malpractices?