Acid attack: A Catastrophic Battle For Both The Genders

Human Rights Watch, 2019 reports that when a concentrated acid is heaved on a person, it soon happens to melt the skin, the tissues, down to the bone. Acid quickly eats through the eyes, ears, skin and bone, liquefying and distorting the flesh wherever it goes. It continues to burn and melt the skin and bones for days and weeks. People who go through this monstrous assault have a high rate of infection, numerous surgeries, complete loss of organs, blood loss, very low aids for adequate pain management, eye cares, air passage treatments in especially the countries where lack of health facilities hold good.

Acid Attack

Tabassum’s story

Sun rising, birds chirping, humans breathing, a monotonous morning for Tooba Tabassum, a student of Women’s College, Aligarh Muslim University, the eldest daughter, pursuing graduation in Bio-Chemistry and an aspiring doctor who as usual was on her way for coaching, just a few lanes away from her home when nothing remained same for her after that one incident that turned her life upside down. “I was just fifteen years old and knew nothing about acid attacks, when on 26th of September, 2012, 5:30 AM around, on my way to class, four of them including the one I refused to talk to and did not show any interest in him, threw something on me and all I could remember is the pain and intensity of heat that I felt on my face.” Says Tabassum when I interviewed her regarding her battle with the acid attack. “Not a single day has passed since then when I’m not reminded of what has happened to my face, my life and what came later which was even worse than any of this. The first time I saw my face after it, I didn’t expect it to be damaged in a way it was actually but the court, society and their questions were damaging a lot more than that acid did.” When asked about her life lesson, Tabassum replied, “physical beauty is something we shouldn’t run after all the time. Search for yourself. Search for your soul and who you really are when everything is gone. That is what remains. Your inner beauty.”  Tabassum has gone through numerous surgeries since then and still hopes to get better one day after all the chores, unfair and ill-treatments that she has gone through. She still believes in the power of education and the existence of the self.

Tabassum sloganeering anti acid attack poster.
A Question To Self.

When a child comes out of the womb right after birth, what is that one thing that the mother wants her child to always possess? When a father brings their favourite toys, what promise does he make with them for the rest of their lives? When the same child, irrespective of the gender impersonates demon and wears a ruthless inhuman flesh who is about to ruin a person’s whole life, that very same child is supported, justified and prayed to get bail if in case the victim has been left with the power to stand for the oppression in the court. Why? why is it? And by “demon” I don’t categorically speak for just one gender. Waves of feminism have no doubt knocked the doors of injustice and are still battling the oppression but surveys when it comes to acid attacks have shown a side of the coin a lot of us don’t even think exists. “When Faizad Zafar, 20 refused to marry Muskan Hilal, 19, she bathed Zafar in acid at Quarsi police station in Aligarh.” According to Anita D’Souza, joint director ASFI, while speaking to The News Minute discussing about men too being at the receiving end of acid attacks. “Around 85% of the acid attack survivors are women. The rest 15% are men survivors.”  Like Zafar, there are numerous examples where men have also been one of the fishes in the net of these attacks from acids. Aren’t the educational institutions, family, societal functioning all responsible somewhere in bringing this horrendous side of a human’s mind out on display where they prefer to ruin an individual’s face by burning it to almost death? Seriously who is responsible for upbringing the evil spirits home in the bodies of our own children if not us? Seriously Who else other than these corporations are responsible for building the nation with people who think putting fire to somebody’s not just skin but their soul as well is something worth being justified?

Unbroken spirit of Zakira, a survivor of an acid attack by her husband

Aren’t we the ones who have learnt the term “acceptance” so perfectly that outrages that should be started with the chants of “unacceptable” are what you and I have been trained to either outlook with the eyes of pity or fate? That’s it. That is our discourse to such inhuman deeds.

Final Nail In The Coffin.

So what comes next after all of this is even worse. Memories trigger emotional pain and not the physical one, for instance, to understand how psychological impact is the most significant in dealing with this traumatic experience. Victims not only get the attention they deserve from the administration, prosecutors or judges unless they have money to open their mouth and bank accounts high. “My main attacker was out on bail after a month of burning my whole universe and soon he married and lead a new life but what about me? Nobody wants to be my friend. How can I hope that I will have a lover or a husband?” Says one of the acid attack survivor soon after facing the harsh side of the society she barely even though of all her life. People have to pull their exasperated self up and walk the rest of their life with a doubt of acceptance. A fear of negligence. A void nobody else could comprehend. Physical bruises might get healed but the arrow that hit them right on their emotional and psychological psyche is irreversible, irrecurable and fragile as never before. Society that drags, hauls and haunts them so much so that their mental baggage is heavier, hotter and dreadful than that fire that burnt like hell in the first place. One of the very few oppressions that both the genders, together are striving for. It actually tells the severity and harshness of this acid that it spares no man or woman on the face of this world. The ones who spill it, have no human traits left in them by any means when they put fire to somebody’s body, heart and soul regardless of colour, creed or gender.

The Ones Who Made Themselves Cooler By Feeling This Fire On Their Body

“You will know that I am alive, free and thriving and living my dreams,” says Reshma Qureshi, an Indian model, vlogger and one of the survivors from sulfuric acid attack by her brother-in-law while she was travelling to Allahabad for an exam. A famous quotation by a leading novelist, story-writer and journalist of his time, Ernest Hemingway quotes, “we’re all broken and that is how the light gets in.” Aiming an arrow towards a point, personified by some greatest people in the history and till date that, until we don’t have scars, we don’t understand what life is and ones who do, infuse the bruises and illuminate their souls, embracing beauty like never before. The beauty of their souls. Except for appreciating and learning from their struggles we are left with just a few words in the end but what is even more important is to make these people realise that everything is unchanged, normal and as raw as it was before their life took a drastic turn and taught them a lot more than we could ever comprehend.

Let them know we’re on the same parallel, same Earth and exactly the same life as they are in except the fact that it’s harder for them than it is for us for a gazillion reasons. But will society ever change its way of functioning? Us, who build this society will ever be able to reach out to our own souls like them? Still, there are victims who go through this disastrous mishap and everyday cases that we read and feel pity for. Despite the combat Laxmi Agarwal fought, another survivor of the acid attack who took over to the courts, filing a petition for banning the sale of these acids, still it is available on stores, people buy it and somebody’s life is ruined because of it. Deepika Padukone starrer movie dialogue, Chhapaak, 2020, based on Agarwal’s life could suffice all of it in a better way, “Wish this acid was not sold in the first place. Had it not been in one’s reach… it would not have spilled on anybody.”

Also Read:

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