The choice to continue to live was not an easy one for acid attack survivor Meena Soni. The assault left a deep scar on her psyche, for the attacker was her own husband. Currently serving as the head of Lucknow-based NGO Sadbhavana, Meena is a beacon of light for several suffering women.
A Strong Woman Is A Threat
Tenth class student Meena was merely sixteen when she was married off. Soon after their wedding, her husband quit work. Meena took a job as a reporter at Khabar Lehariya, the all-women newspaper of Banda and Chitrakoot. Gradually, she became the breadwinner of her family.
But this hurt her spouse’s male ego. “Right from the very beginning, he thought that I was very beautiful and thus should not move out of the house. He was very unwilling, but I had no other option. He was suffering from tuberculosis and couldn’t go out to work. Every day we would have arguments in the house,” she was quoted in Josh Talks.
Remembering The Nightmare
It was a summer morning of 2004 when Meena was fast asleep. Her children were playing outside the home. At that instant, her husband threw acid on her face. Meena woke up instantly. The burning sensation was strong enough to make her realize that she had been a victim of acid attack.
She ran out of the house as fast as her feet could take her. Her spouse caught hold of her saree to prevent her from escaping but she threw her saree away. She collided with her daughter outside and asked her to call a rickshaw. Gathering every bit of courage left, she went to the hospital all by herself.
While undergoing her treatment, she was informed that her husband had attempted suicide. “Maybe he was scared of the consequences that would have followed,” Meena reflects. “My colleagues supported me in every possible way. They got me whatever medical assistance I needed. Finally, I was back, but in a different shape.”
The feisty woman makes it clear that she did something no one expected her to – she did not lose heart. She shifted to Lucknow and underwent reconstructive surgery. “The voluntary organization where I worked lent help,” she admits.
Life has come full circle for the lionhearted soul. As the head of Sadbhavana, she now lends a helping hand to women who have been languishing in jails and providing them legal assistance. “So far I’ve helped 17 women undertrials come out of jails on bail. I’ve also paid the penalty imposed on them at times. Many women have been in jails on trumped-up charges. A majority of them come from rural areas and they have no knowledge of the law.”
Building somebody’s life is difficult. Destroying it, on the other hand, is awfully easy. Meena Soni did not let a gruesome experience in her past affect her present or shake her indomitable spirit. Which is why she is a real-life Wonder Woman and a positive role model for all the little girls and women across the world.