When a bottle of dangerous acid can be available at 20 Rupees with no questions asked and no investigations made, acid rescues an enraged man seeking a torturous revenge! A liquid packed in a small bottle worth Rupee 20 is all it takes to destroy one’s life.
Yes, rules have been passed and laws have been made but how long will it take to get them implemented? Maybe months? Maybe years. Acid attack tops the list of the most gendered form of violence with the attackers always male and victims female, of course.
Lalita Benbansi, who was once a beautiful girl now looks frightening. What caused this life changing event? What made people divert their eyes from her with disgust, with fright? It sounds rude to use words such as ‘disgust’ and ‘fright’ but that’s how the world looks at people with disfigured faces and burned bodies. They don’t sympathize or help, they simply thank God that they aren’t like them. That’s the harsh reality acid attack victims have to come to terms with.
When Lalita was attending a cousin’s wedding in Uttar Pradesh, a debate broke within the family. A small argument soon turned into a full-blown fight.
She says, “I pushed a girl who my cousin had brought along to the wedding, and was refusing to pay a token auspicious amount at the altar. He took this as the final insult from my family and swore revenge.” He threatened to throw acid on Lalita, who prided her beauty.
Lalita didn’t mind the insult nor the threat and thought that the whole fight would soon be forgotten. Had she known that it wasn’t taken lightly by others, she would have taken cautious steps. Had she known that something outrageous was being planned against her, she would have been prepared.
Five months later, two men riding a bike came to her, wrestled her down and poured acid on her, adequate to do the lifelong damage. They wore masks but Lalita recognized their voices. Her mother had witnessed the entire scene but could do nothing to fight the repugnant men.
Lalita’s family survives on 4,500 rupees per month and two months after she was admitted into a local hospital to treat her burns, they ran out of money. She lived with her grandma for months, concealing her injuries, hiding away from people, trying not to look at herself in the mirror.
A relative informed her of an NGO in Mumbai, ‘Make Love, Not Scars,’ that raises funds to help victims of acid attacks.
As soon as her surgeries are complete, Lalita hopes to fetch a job. She cannot rely on her parents forever and hopes to construct her own life. But will she get a job? If she does, will she make friends? Will a man wish to marry her? Will society respect and treat her impartially?