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

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

When catwalk model Reshma Qureshi offers makeup gratuities, her online seminars end with the letter that an eyeliner or lipstick is just as easy to buy in India as a container of over-the-counter acid.

The point, coming from a woman who was left disfigured and partly sighted by an acid onrush, have now been proved so powerful that it has helped lead first 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 given to her own legend and to the plight of thousands like her, Qureshi says the epidemic of acid criticizes in India continues unabated, and the law structure slowdowns far behind public opinion in dealing with cases.

” The only seize obliged in my subject could receive bail soon, and their own families is very afraid for our security ,” 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 girl abode minor burns but Qureshi was left severely scarred and dazed in her left eye.

Despite the milestones she’s attained- including fashion modelling- Qureshi’s skirmishes are far from over. After years of law battle, Qureshi has still not received justice. Of the three men involved in the attack, merely one was arrested. The contest 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 assaults take place every year. Official chassis demo only a fraction of the actual number of such attacks, activists say, with “thousands of the cases” travelling unreported.

Most survivors are attacked by relatives, building 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 battery-acid criticizes, says many others die from their hurts before they are able to go to the police.

Qureshi’s struggle not only to get medical help, but too legal assistance, lays bare the apathy of the Indian system towards survivors of violence, she says.” The doctors wouldn’t plow my burns till we got a police complaint registered. It was six hours before I received any help. I precisely lay there calling in pain.

” Eventually, when special courts was sounding my suit, I was called as a witness while I was in surgery. Despite my father’s requests, they contended I be present, 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; “were having” 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 years in prison, but conviction charges are low.” In at least 40% of the cases, the attackers remain absconding ,” says Singh.

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

While her organisation facilitates survivors find pro-bono assistance, and treats 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 residence to pay for her medicines and legal payments .”

Qureshi now lives with other survivors at the Make Love Not Scars shelter in Delhi.” Apart from a safe infinite, we likewise support survivors mental care, medical scrutiny, help with their surgeries, post-operative care, fund[ for] their children’s education, and help to become productive parts of society ,” says Singh.” Nonetheless, the biggest challenge we face is the lack of belief survivors have in themselves. Society had put in place[ the relevant recommendations] in their memories 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” have been enormously successful, putting a spotlight on the problem of violence against women.

” I have always affection exploiting makeup, but I quit after my attack ,” she says.” I would insure other women who were all made-up and cared I is also able to do that. Then I requested myself, why couldn’t I do it?

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

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

Singh says many survivors are now pursuing occupations 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 realize you feel otherwise.

” We have a few survivors who work in the supreme court, another who are working in a hospital- because people should be free to follow their daydreams in whatever lane possible .”

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