Reshma Qureshis makeup tip videos threw 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 tutorials concluded with the letter that an eyeliner or lipstick is just as easy to buy in India as a cup of over-the-counter acid.
The point, coming from a woman who was left disfigured and partially sighted by an acid attack, has already proved 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 given to her own legend and to the plight of thousands like her, Qureshi says the epidemic of acid strikes in India continues unabated, and the law arrangement lags far behind public opinion in dealing with cases.
” The only seize constituted in my event could receive bail soon, and my family 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 hurled acid on my face ,” Qureshi tells the Guardian. She was just 17 when she and her sister were attacked. The older lady sustained minor burns but Qureshi was left naughtily scarred and dazed in her left eye.
Despite the milestones she’s reached- including fashion modelling- Qureshi’s strifes is still far from over. After years of legal duel, Qureshi has still not received right. Of the three men involved in the attack, merely one was arrested. The ordeal 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 fatalities, in 2015. Worldwide, thousands of acid assaults take place every year. Official fleshes indicate merely a fraction of the actual number of such attacks, activists say, with “thousands of the cases” departing unreported.
Most survivors are attacked by relatives, making 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 attacks, says many others die from their injuries before they are able to go to the police.
Qureshi’s struggle not just to get medical assistance, but too law subscribe, lays bare the apathy of the Indian system towards survivors of violence, she says.” The doctors wouldn’t consider my burns till we got a police complaint registered. It was six hours before I received any assistant. I simply lay there hollering in pain.
” Eventually, when special courts was listening my suit, I was called as a witness while I was in surgery. Despite my father’s pleas, they insisted 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 right, 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 belief rates are low.” In at least 40% of the cases, the attackers remain absconding ,” says Singh.
” Our statutes are actually very good- solid statutes, such that other countries could learn from our laws. The trouble lies with implementation … It is very easy to pass a constitution, it is very difficult to implement it .”
While her organisation helps survivors find pro-bono assistance, and includes 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 is payable for her managements and law costs .”
Qureshi now lives with other survivors at the Make Love Not Scars shelter in Delhi.” Apart from a safe seat, we also ply survivors psychological upkeep, medical courtesy, help with their surgeries, post-operative care, fund[ 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 had put in place[ the relevant recommendations] in their psyches 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 tremendously successful, putting a spotlight on the problem of violence against women.
” I have always loved exploiting makeup, but I quit after my attack ,” she says.” I would determine other women who were all made-up and bid I is also able to do that. Then I asked myself, why couldn’t I do it?
” That onrush ruined it in “peoples lives”. Your face is everything in this world, your face is considered your most important identity ,” she says.” The mortal who assaulted me, he saw this would ruin 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 happiness- I will show him how I can live and move forward.
” The next thing I want to do is be in a movie about my life, and to play myself .”
Singh says numerous survivors are now prosecuting 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 prepare you feel otherwise.
” We got a few survivors who work in the supreme court, another who are working in a hospital- because people should be free to follow their dreamings in whatever channel possible .”
Read more: www.theguardian.com