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Asia-pacific

Video: India’s acid attack victims fight back

© FRANCE 24

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-12-19

The fatal gang rape of a student on a bus one year ago brought worldwide attention to the issue of sexual attacks in India. Now a new campaign is set on highlighting another form of violence disproportionately affecting Indian women: acid attacks.

Lakshmi, a 32-year-old survivor of an acid attack, spent years feeling frustrated and alone. In 2006 she filed a petition to ban the sale of acid with New Delhi’s Supreme Court, but felt a lack of sympathy for her cause.

“[Acid] attacks don’t just destroy your face. They break your spirit and kill your soul. Dealing with one operation at a time, not being able to study, all your dreams are shattered,” Lakshmi, who was targeted by a neighbour she did not want to marry at the age of 15, told FRANCE 24.

Now Lakshmi has teamed up with Alok Dixit, a former journalist and founder of the campaign Stop Acid Attacks.

The group has adopted a twin-pronged approach: raising awareness among ordinary Indians through media campaigns, while offering support to survivors like Lakshmi.

“When we started this campaign, the main purpose was to create awareness. Reach as many people as we can. For the victims who have joined us, we would like to prepare them to take this fight further,” Dixit said.

Stop Acid Attacks runs a temporary shelter for victims undergoing treatment in New Delhi. The rehabilitation centre is the first of its kind in India, and Lakshmi heads up the recovery process.

It recently took in Sapna, a young woman with dark burn marks on her check, neck and right arm.

“After I got attacked, everyone abandoned me,” Sapna told FRANCE 24. “After I pressed charges, my family was hesitant to support me, so I don't feel safe at home. But living here makes me happy.”

Sapna, bolstered by Lashmi and Dixit, is on her way to recovery and may find justice that has eluded countless other women.

Click on the player above for FRANCE 24's full video report.

Date created : 2013-12-19

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