‘He thought he’d ruin me’: Indian acid attempt survivor and prototype speaks out | Ruchi Kumar

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Reshma Qureshis makeup tip videos set a spotlight on violence against women, but survivors still face an uphill struggle for justice

When catwalk model Reshma Qureshi offers makeup tips-off, her online tutorials concluded with the meaning that an eyeliner or lipstick is just as easy to buy in India as a pot of over-the-counter acid.

The point, coming from a woman who was left disfigured and partially sighted by an acid onrush, have now been supported so potent that it has helped lead firstly to an international petition, and then to the supreme court of India ordering states to enforce the ban on sales of the chemical.

However, despite the attention paid to her own narrative and to the plight of thousands like her, Qureshi says the epidemic of acid attempts in India continues unabated, and the legal organisation slowdowns far behind public opinion in dealing with cases.

” The only stoppage obliged in my client could receive bail soon, and their own families is very afraid for our safety ,” says Qureshi, who is from Allahabad, in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

” On 19 May 2014, my brother-in-law threw acid on my face ,” Qureshi tells the Guardian. She was just 17 when she and her sister came under attack. The older female lost child burns but Qureshi was left seriously scarred and dazzled in her left eye.

Despite the milestones she’s reached- including fashion modelling- Qureshi’s contends are far from over. After years of law duel, Qureshi has still not received justice. Of the three men involved in the attack, exclusively one was arrested. The trial is still ongoing.

Her experience is far from isolated. The most recent statisticsfrom India’s National Crimes Record Bureau record 283 reported acid attacks, with 307 casualties, in 2015. Worldwide, tens of thousands of acid attempts take place every year. Official figures demo simply a fraction of the actual number of such attacks, activists say, with “thousands of the cases” disappearing unreported.

Most survivors are attacked by relatives, preparing it more common that the crime is not reported outside the family. Tania Singh, an activist and CEO of Make Love Not Scars, an organisation that helps survivors of acid strikes, says many others die from their harms before they are able to go to the police.

Qureshi’s struggle not just to get medical help, but likewise law foundation, lays bare the apathy of the Indian system towards survivors of violence, she says.” Medical doctors wouldn’t treat my burns till we got a police complaint registered. It was six hours before I received any help. I merely lay there calling in pain.

” Eventually, when the court was hearing my case, I was called as a witness while I was in surgery. Despite my father’s pleas, they contended I be represented, or else the attacker would be let go. How is that fair ?”

Singh says more courts and judges are needed to expedite such cases.” The backlog of cases in India is massive; we have survivors who were attacked 10 years ago and haven’t seen justice, their attacks are absconding. The decision needs to come faster, swifter and harder .”

Currently, the crime is punishable with up to 10 times in prison, but sentence proportions are low.” In at least 40% of the cases, the attackers remain absconding ,” says Singh.

” Our constitutions are actually very good- solid constitutions, such that other countries could learn from our laws. The difficulty lies with implementation … It is very easy to pass a rule, it is very difficult to implement it .”

While her organisation promotions survivors find pro-bono assistance, and encompass some of their legal costs, the financial burden of such an attack is still crippling, says Singh.” Reshma’s mothers had to sell their business and ancestral home to pay for her medicines and law expenses .”

Qureshi now lives with other survivors at the Make Love Not Scars shelter in Delhi.” Apart from a safe opening, we likewise provide survivors psychological attention, medical attention, assist with their surgeries, post-operative care, funding[ for] their children’s education, and help to become productive members of society ,” says Singh.” Nonetheless, the biggest challenge we face is the lack of belief survivors have in themselves. Society has put[ the relevant recommendations] in their brains that their lives are over. To convince them otherwise can be very hard sometimes .”

The organisation provides support and vocational training to survivors, including Qureshi, whose videos entitled” Beauty Tips by Reshma” ought to have staggeringly successful, putting a spotlight on the problem of violence against women.

” I have always affection relating makeup, but I cease after my attack ,” she says.” I would investigate other women who were all made-up and cared I could also do that. Then I expected myself, why couldn’t I do it?

” That onslaught ruined everything in “peoples lives”. Your face is everything in this world, your face is considered your most important identity ,” she says.” The person who assaulted me, he imagined this would break me.’ She won’t be able to do anything and she’ll die .’ But I won’t be allowed to happen. I won’t give him the atonement- I will show him how I can live and move forward.

” The next happening I want to do is be in a movie about my life, and to play myself .”

Singh says numerous survivors are now pursuing professions they previously thought out of reach:” It is also what we strive to instil in all our survivors that you should be the best form of yourself. Let no one move you feel otherwise.

” We have a few survivors who are in the supreme court, another who works in a hospital- because people should be free to follow their dreamings in whatever mode possible .”

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