Sheroes-The Stouthearted Souls

SCARRED PHYSICALLY BUT THEIR HEART IS NO LESS THAN A HERO.

The first man a little girl falls in love with, is her Dad. But Neetu could not. She was just 3, happy in her own world unknown of the happenings around. She played with her sisters, cared for them being the eldest of the three. But one unfortunate day, her father scarred the beauty of a father-daughter relationship. He threw acid on her for he wanted a son.

Neetu, her mother Seema, and her infant sister became the victims of the man of their family. The little baby succumbed to the burns by the acid while Neetu and Seema have been fighting for justice since then. The horrendous act has defaced them forever but even after 24 years of suffering, justice seems to be nowhere. Neetu’s father was free after a few attests and bails. A cafe in Agra is now the only support to these women.

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Neetu was attacked by her father when she was three. (Image credits: Poorvi Agarwal)

Sheroes Hangout, a cafe in Agra rehabilitates the acid attack victims and brings them together to fight against this heinous crime. This cafe is an initiative by the “Stop Acid Attack” campaign in association with NGO Chhanv. The women working at Sheroes are survivors themselves. They are doing much more than just serving up a cup of coffee — they are sharing their personal stories of courage and bravery. They say, “We are not victims—we are Survivors, we are fighters.”

“Pay as you like”, this new concept of no priced menu in the cafe asks the visitors to invest their time instead of money. The delicacies prepared in the cafe reflect the life these women have lived so far. Tossed in fire, but still, they are beautiful, sprinkled with flavours of courage and optimism.

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The graffiti in the cafe depict their bravery.  (picture credit: Poorvi Agarwal)

These attacks have marred not only the survivor but also India’s image. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, more than 1,000 acid attack crimes are committed around the country each year but most of them go unreported because of the fear of being attacked again. Nearly 349 attacks were reported in 2014 alone.

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Ritu was attacked as she refused a sexual advance. (Image credits: Poorvi Agarwal)

The much-noted reason for this crime is an unrequited love as faced by Ritu. When she ignored the proposal of her cousin brother, he planned to burn her face. A 55-year old man attacked Anshu after she complained her family of his sexual advances towards her. Other cases have been due to dowry or in want of a male child. Attackers have thrown acid over petty issues of arguments and jealousy.

These attacks don’t just physically damage the survivor, but are a murder of mind and condemn them to a lifetime of suffering. They face social isolation and have seen people frightened by their appearance. They face employment crisis and in some cases their families disown them. The expensive surgeries they undergo through cost around Rs. 2-4 lakhs, which add on to the misery of theses women in pain.

Earlier acid attacks were counted as violence against women, but the protests and the campaign with the insertion of Section 326A in the Indian Penal Code recognised them as a distinct crime. Lakshmi became the voice of the acid attack survivors across the world by launching the ‘Stop Acid Attack’ campaign. Instead of shutting herself in the agony of scars, she came out to fight for the ban of acid. Her life grew after this campaign and she is now a mother of a two-year-old daughter.

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Ritu, Rupa, Neeta, Madhu and Geeta- The Sheroes

The irony is that acid can easily be purchased at Rs. 25 a bottle. The government has regulated the sale of concentrated acid but the implementation and checking of the rules are a distant reality. Also, the culprits move freely after getting bail while the survivors wait for trials with their faces covered. Though many other cases are pending, the government recently showed a ray of hope after giving death sentence to the culprit of Late Preeti Rathi, the acid attack victim who lost the battle of life in 2013.

Sheroes Hangout brought them out of their covered faces and spaces in the open to fight against the wrong and pursue their dreams. These survivors break the stereotypical meaning of beauty proving that confidence is the new face of beauty. Also, they are the icons of inner beauty and the never-say-die attitude of a woman’s spirit. While other girls fret and fume over a pimple in front of the mirror every morning, these extraordinary women dare to wear their scars and face the world every day.

Scars snaked their face, but their soul cries out for justice. Acid disfigured their skin but not their heart. They are brave. They are beautiful. They are SHEROES.

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Life Ki App

Social Media has been a daily dose in today’s life. We humans have forgot to meet and greet people in the real world, but virtually we have been activated and active on our phones and apps.

Life has totally become a Social media app. Like Facebook, people will like your problems and comment on them but no one can solve them, because they are busy updating theirs. Like Twitter, people tweet about something that has happened in their life and just like gossip, its re-tweeted by others. And somewhere Snapchat has brought a mask onto our faces and filtered our real self.  

Kabhi buying clothes, kabhi shoes and even chaddis,

All time Whatsapp per texting with our buddies.

Har do minute mei check karte hai Facebook Wall,

Kabhi lagate hai London vale Bhaiya ko Skype call.

Snapchat ke filters ka hota hai alag swag,

Aur Instagram uploads per daalte hai bhaut saare #tags.

Twitter Ke tweets and Twitter ke trends,

Nothing can beat my number of Facebook friends.

LinkedIn par banate hai sab professional contacts

Aur Google baba ke paas hai duniya ke sab facts.

Youtube par videos ko karte rehte hai play

Snapchat story aur FB checking mei nhi hota koi delay

Sab kaam ke liye phone par karte hai tip-tap

Kaash jeene ke liye bhi mil jaye koi LIFE KI APP!

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The Demise of Justice in Bhopal Tragedy

India may be singing praises of its rapid industrialisation, but the past cannot be buried like the dead. Thousands died that night but the tragedy is still alive.

No one can forget the night of December 2, 1984 – while the country slept, unleashed in Bhopal was a tragedy that still haunts the nation. Stuck in the legal maze for justice, 32 years of struggle has not brought any relief to the people affected in the Bhopal Gas Tragedy.

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No heads, just skulls (Image credits: Raghu Rai)

The dreadful leak of poisonous methyl isocyanate gas from the Union Carbide plant brought a holocaust on Bhopalis. It killed 4000 people within a couple of days of the leak but the death toll rose to nearly 15,287 due to the lingering effects. The aftermath also led to a scourge affecting 5 lakh people.

Three decades have gone by but instead of justice to the sufferers, a sequel to the deadly disaster is ready- ‘Bhopal Tragedy 2.0’The effects of 1984 have trickled down the generations and have crippled the brains and bodies of the newly born. Sambhavna Trust Clinic which provides free medical help to the survivor’s health in the toxic area of Bhopal reveals about the on-going disaster in Bhopal. Congenital defects, cerebral palsy and cases of cancer have been reported widely among children. The clinic studied that almost 2500 children are suffering from birth defects due to the exposure of their parents to the lethal gas.

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The wall of the dead (Image Credits: The financial express)

The second and the third generation are at a higher risk than the survivors of the tragedy. But the government does not consider these abnormalities or pay any heed to them. Birth of a child is a reason to celebrate but it comes as a shock and burden to these families. The child’s ailment adds on to their misery as well as the medical care surges their economic instability.

Around 350 tons of toxic waste is lying in the heart of India near the disaster site tainting the water and land, but the government remains oblivious to the conditions. After the horrendous gas leak, the factory was locked up with all the hazardous substances left to rot. The cylinder that was the source of the whole calamity lies discarded, meters away from the factory.

People have no safe water to drink in the tragic city of Bhopal. Life-risking chemicals have percolated down the water and polluted the underground water as well as water bodies. Surveys prove that the carcinogen in water is 1000 times than the World Health Organisation’s limit.

Justice was long lost with the lives of the deceased. The government could neither punish the culprits nor could provide atonement to the victims. Charges of manslaughter were filed against Warren Anderson, the CEO of Union Carbide India but he managed to flee the country.  Also, the Rajiv Gandhi government closed the file by settling the compensation amount as $470 million. It seems to be a huge amount but when distributed among the huge number of sufferers becomes meager. Even then half of it is lost in the middle.

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The Disaster Girl by Raghu Rai.

Activists protested and burnt the effigy of Warren Anderson and Uncle Tom. They raised questions against the Indian government not forcing the Dow Chemical, who purchased Union Carbide to clean up the site and to revise compensation amount. Since the launch of Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan, no cleaning activity has taken place on the factory site, raising questions about negligence towards Bhopal. The NGOs and people are protesting for their past, present and the future.