Online campaign helps India’s acid attack survivors
Neeta was just three years old when her father doused her, her one-year-old sister and her mother with acid because of a land dispute in rural India. Only Neeta and her mother survived. With their faces scarred and their eyesight damaged, the pair found it difficult to make a living for the next two decades. “Nobody helped, be it our family or the village,” says Neeta, now 28.
There are no specific laws against acid attacks in India, yet it is a widespread problem which has ravaged the lives of thousands of young women, who are often caught in the crossfire of family disputes. At least five women are attacked with acid every week, and most of them become isolated after the attack.
It has taken one survivor to speak up and make a difference. Laxmi Agarwal was 15 when a spurned suitor attacked her on the street and poured acid on her face. Still underage, Laxmi nevertheless successfully used the legal system to put the attacker behind bars, and she did not stop there.
Using India’s burgeoning internet culture, she became an online activist, establishing the Stop Acid Attacks campaign in 2013. The campaign has been raising awareness of the issue on social media, and has used the internet to crowdfund resources for acid attack survivors like Neeta, from payments for medical treatment to legal fees to fight the perpetrators.
Today, Stop Acid Attacks receives two to three incident reports a day, and the team continues to support every survivor who gets in touch, while working to ban acid sales and improve legislation around the issue. The organisation remains independent from any government or corporate funding and relies on online-driven donations. To help, visit www.stopacidattacks.org
Image courtesy of Stop Acid Attacks
Last updated: 13th of September, 2016