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Fighting Phoenix : Story Of Laxmi

Walking on the ramp, each move showing her confidence, acid attack survivor Laxmi refused to be called a victim; instead she chose to be an inspiring fighter.

A perfect figure and an appealing face is a necessity to be a brand ambassador of a fashion label, or so the world says. However, clothing brand “Viva D Diva” planned a campaign called “Face of Courage” challenging the outlook of people towards fashion and beauty. And they could not find anyone better than Laxmi, the most outspoken advocate against acid attacks.

Source : indiatimes.com

Source : indiatimes.com

Her journey from a victim to a fighter and a living inspiration was both mentally and physically challenging. Laxmi , was born to an impoverished family in New Delhi. Her life was not much more different from the millions of teenage girls in India but it remained so till 2005 only.
In 2005, teenaged Laxmi faced a horrific acid attack. A man double her age had an eye on her. He asked her to marry him but she turned it down as a result of that refusal he planned an acid attack and attacked her with acid while walking at a bus stop located in south Delhi’s famous and populous Khan Market. The man who claimed to love that face left a permanent scar on it.
The journey to recovery was full of challenges; the sole earner of the family was her father and it was not easy for him to manage the expenses. But family was always on her support in her fight. Seven surgeries were carried out in total to find a figured face.
Some of the toughest were her initial days, and not making it easier was the fact that the outlook of society towards her was more painful than her wounds. But this was when she developed the habit of challenging the stereotypes set by society; she gathered courage and added tailoring and the art of beautification to her basic computer skills to find a job for her but nobody was willing to give her a job just because that her face was scary for them. Meanwhile, her attacker was on bail and soon was living happily married while she was suffering, having done no wrong at all.
This injustice called to time for a change and Laxmi’s crusade against acid attack began in 2006 when along with another acid attack survivor Rupa, she filled a Public Interest Litigation in the supreme Court to regulate the sale of acid. In 2013, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of her plea. This was her victory, her moment of pride.
Her victories and accomplishments started a chain. She started the campaign “Stop acid attacks”. She was the director of Chhavn foundation, an NGO dedicated to help other acid attack survivors. The woman who had been denied a job a few years back was now the host of a TV series called “Udaan”, her own television show launched on News X on the 8th of March 2014 based on the stories of acid attack survivors.
Her biggest came was when the First Lady of the United States of America, Michelle Obama awarded Laxmi with the International Women of Courage Award in March 2014.
A revolution, a change came in her personal life in January 2014. A man once altered her life, changing it forever, leaving her with a chip on her shoulder. But now came a man who took away the chip, a man to whom her scars did not matter.
Alok Dixit, a social activist had also set out to fight against the scourge of acid attacks. She could not have asked anyone better than him. But the two decided not to marry for they wanted to challenge the society they started a relationship of understanding and support, without giving a name to it.
Challenging the taboos of society Laxmi has faced the world boldly.
For those who think that an attack to face can destroy a woman’s life she is an extraordinary example of courage and inspiration. She not only fought her own fight but is also doing so for so many others on the same journey she once took.
Laxmi has now entered a new phase of her life by becoming the mother of a daughter.

Source : indianexpress.com

Source : indianexpress.com

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Fighting Phoenix : Story of Ritu

Every year the alarming statistics of acid attacks come to light. According to a report published in “The Indian Express”, there is 300% rise in acid attacks in last three years. The acid attack survivors go through a deep dark phase. At an age when girls think about careers and relationships these survivors go through the struggle of getting a figured face. The agony and ordeal they go through is not easy to be faced.

While many survivors lose the hope in between their struggle there are girls who led by their example and fight for the justice.

On May 26, 2012 the life of Ritu, daughter of Sita Ram Saini, an automobile mechanic and a resident of Rohtak, Haryana became a living nightmare. The fall out of a property dispute changed her life overnight. She faced an acid attack which was plotted by her relatives.

Her parents had never dreamt of her daughter naming among the victims of crimes against women.

She was a student of Class Sixth in Saini High School in Rohtak when she fall in love with volleyball. She used to go to court everyday for her practice. She left her home like any other day totally unnerved about the phase that was going to start. She reached the Prem Nagar Chowk around four in evening, two men approached her on a bike. Before she could sense anything the pillion rider splashed acid over her.

Since that day a difficult journey from despair to hope started for her.

Everybody at that place crowded around her as she laid there squirming in pain but nobody stepped forth for help.  It was her elder Brother who spotted her there and rushed her to the Post Graduate Institute Of Medical Sciences in a police van.She had put her hand up to her face and the skin started peeled off. She can never forget the agony that she felt as acid tricked down her face onto her neck. She opened her eyes around her Parents in Hospital Ward Room. In her parents eyes she could see her forever disfigured face. She was in intensive care unit for seven days. From that day every second that pasts she asks herself a single question that what had she done to deserve this cruelty. But her burns were more than an acid attack. Her aunt Rajwanti had hired two men to target her parents over property dispute.

Once she was a happy go girl full of dreams and desires. She loved herself like anyone, she loved getting dressed up for her birthdays, she loved to live life to the fullest but now her life was within a hospital room. Her school, volleyball court everything was there but all this now reminded her the pain she had gone through. She herself could not recognize her face. The girl in her photo albums was gone. She had 45% of her body burnt, 90% of her face was damaged and acid had also affected her eyes.

But the journey began that day when she decided that she’ll fight the legal fight till the end. Police filled the charge sheet after the five months of incident three of the accused were booked under section 307 and five were booked under section 120 B. When Punjab and Haryana High Courts had granted bail to Rajwanti and Raju she had approached higher courts so look into the to ensure speedy justice.

Though initially she totally withdrew herself from friends and family but the support of her three brothers mounted her from darkness. Her father is the sole bread earner for the family of six members. Her medical expenses had added to his burden. She had received a help for her plastic surgery from State Government under Relief and Rehabilitation of Women Acid victim Scheme.

Her painful days and sleepless nights got an end when she started working at “Sheroes Hangout” and started campaigning for “Stop Acid Attacks”. She started recovering both on mental and physical level when she started helping Rupa at Sheroes in her dream project , “A design Home”.

As a campaigner with Stop Acid Attacks the message she wants to convey to the whole world is that there must be no room for violence in the lives of people. To burn, ma me, disfigure or mutilate another human being is far from humanity. If these crimes happening around us, we must once condemn these, and recognize the need to embrace peace and compassion.

The burns on her body has never be able to burn the courage in her heart. She is a true inspiration.

Pictures Source : hindustantimes. com,                                                mirror.co.uk

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