Help for Acid Attack survivors of Sheroes

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Respected Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi,

I don't know if my name has had the privilege of being known to you. I am Rupa, a survivor of acid attack who you awarded the Nari Shakti Award in year 2016 for rehabilitation of acid attack survivors through our project Sheroes Hangout cafe in Agra. The same project is on stake, the women who were earning their livelihood today are living with a fear of loosing their jobs. Reason, cafe is being demolished due to road-widening. In short, I am someone who is trying to help you understand why we, the survivors of acid attacks, are keeping hope in you, and why Sheroes must be in the mind of my Prime Minister.

Like so many other acid attack survivors in the country, I was suffering the effects of a society that no longer knows how to address the whole person with such a disfigured face. By this I mean the freedom to be fully ourselves, to have normal relationships with others as well a dignified job to earn my livelihood. We are assaulted daily with comments and jokes, ignorance, partialities, hate but it was changing when the campaign we started found its direction and started Sheroes Hangout cafe in Agra in year 2014. There are 8 women who once were hiding their faces have left their past behind and made Sheroes a internationally recognized model of rehabilitation. No Sheroes cafe in Agra at all or may be one with poor space– how would you feel?  Women who work at cafe have already been forcibly molested or burnt, mocked, marginalized, physically and mentally traumatized in so many other ways and this is one more indignity and lack of respect, that we all remain jobless because our cafe was on an encroached land. Many of us were once not this much helpless as are today. Heinous violence such as acid attacks are life-changing and damage almost every thing, money, reputation and strength. It took me years to help myself recover and I am not ‘normal’ yet but I am a far better than other colleges of mine. One of our member, Neetu who hails from Agra, can not see at all but has all the dedication for her project. Another friend of mine Ritu smiles back to guests with her one functional eye and makes all of our proud when she receives positive remarks for her hospitality. How should I explain you that they had recently learn to live with the realities they carry. We, the Sheroes, were becoming hopes for our families, friends and also the country.  I am very thankful to honorable Supreme Court and my government that we are receiving plenty of support in terms of compensation and free medical treatment. Another important thing for us is the acceptance in society that we needed. With Sheroes, we just wanted to ignore the problems and bring new ways of living and bringing awareness which could have helped to reintegrate survivors. Cafe behoves tourists and Sheroes to learn each other’s lives, because their communications can add up to a violence free society.

I also request you to visit us once and then see if you can find a way to help many women like me to live a respectful life, as well as how to be more comfortable with your own appearance and realities. Many who have “normal” lives have absolutely no understanding of what it is like to see the world from a violence survivor’s point of view.  Indeed, my own views have changed throughout the years with Sheroes as a result of all that I have understood the strength of keeping faith with system and within us.

To be sure, I don’t know that anyone except my prime minister has the time and the love necessary to understand why we need help. I believe in you completely. You are my dearest leader. Please help us.

Regards

Rupa 



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