Stop Acid Attacks empowers acid attack survivors in India
Acid attacks are among some of the most heinous and violent crimes against women, their effect is lasting, both mentally and physically, with little hope for full rehabilitation in most cases. In India, the frequency of acid attacks have increased, leading to thousands of shattered lives, some of which lose the battle due to the scale of the injuries and lack of immediate assistance. Stop Acid Attacks is a campaign which hopes to make a difference to the manner in which acid attack survivors receive treatment and justice, while subsequently raising awareness on the issue pan-India and abroad in a bid to raise funds for treatment and legal expenses.
Started in 2013 under the banner of Saraswati Siksha Samiti (a registered non-governmental organization) 2013, the founders of SAA are firm about the fact that they do not wish to become a registered movement or trust themselves; as per a note issued on their website, they are of the opinion that other registered movements have done little for the benefit of acid attack survivors which is why they would like to remain an unregistered, albeit, completely committed and effective movement. Focusing on the grey areas pertaining to acid attacks, i.e. immediate assistance has been part of their motto, as has their objective of empowering the survivors themselves to speak out publicly with media, legal representatives, and the general public. From raising awareness on basic matters such as what to do if one is attacked [i.e. washing the area as much as possible in order to dilute the acid], to holding “spot of shame” painting and mixed media art events to mark areas where acid attacks have occurred, the movement takes help from its ever-growing mass of volunteers who learn about its work through newspaper and online media coverage. One of the frontrunners of the movement is an inspiring young acid attack survivor named Laxmi, who has become a source of inspiration for survivors and activists alike thanks to her untiring campaigning and advocacy work. The movement insists that it will not register, but will continue supporting acid attack survivors by facilitating rehabilitation services for them, and will also look towards helping them find employment, so that they are not dependant on charity and the goodwill of others.
Seeking donations for their shelter and subsequent campaigns through crowd funding has resulted in some success, with donations coming in from both India and abroad thanks to sites such as indiegogo. The website of the movement shares consistent updates pertaining to acid attack awareness events, and also the progress of survivors who are on their individual journey towards recovery. The setting up of an exclusive abode only for acid attack survivors is part of the movement’s plan of action, and it is hoped that public support will enable this committed team to achieve their goals. With a slew of national and international awards under their belt, Stop Acid Attacks is slowly but steadily spreading awareness across the nation, with the objective of covering 50 cities and towns in India.