Tag Archives: Violence Against Women

Acid-Attack Victims Demand Justice from Indian Government

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Graphic images but the world needs to know what is going on to women

Due to National and International Pressure, the Indian Government created new laws in February 2013 to combat the increasing attacks on women. In India, 90% of violent attacks are against women and the number is only increasing. After acid-attack victim Sonali Mukherjee appeared on India’s version of “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” in 2012, acid-attack victims hoped that the country would finally care about them, but some victims are still waiting for justice.

Whenever Chanchal Paswan (18) left her house in Chithnava, India, her male neighbors would follow her to her destination, pulling on her clothes while making lewd comments toward her. When Chanchal refused to sleep with them, the men decided to punish her – after all, these monsters believed that women should ALWAYS do what men say. On October 21, 2012, the men snuck onto Chanchal’s roof where she and her sister were sleeping. The men pinned her down and poured acid all over her while the younger sister, Sonam (15), was also burned.  The parents heard their children screaming and ran up to the roof and rushed the girls to the hospital.  The attackers laughed at the family while the neighbors watched in silence. When the family got to the hospital, it refused to admit the sisters until the following morning when television cameras showed up. The four men (Anil Rai, Ghanshyam Rai, Baadal Rai, and Raj Rai) were arrested, but the sisters are still waiting for justice.

Before and After Picture of Chanchal

Even though Chanchal was an adult who worked at the time of the attack, the police report claims she was a minor at the time of the attack so she received less compensation. There were rumors that the attackers would be forced to cover the cost of the surgeries the girls have been going through, but at the moment the family has been paying for all the surgeries and medication. Chanchal was even discharged early from Patna Medical College and Hospital because her family could not afford to pay for the medication and surgeries, though the hospital claims its for infection reasons.  The main attackers, Anil Rai, claims he is a minor to escape prison time even though he is not a minor. The family hopes that by drawing attention to their problem, they will be able to receive the correct compensation from the government and see the attackers be punished.  The attackers are from a higher caste (higher social class) and they believed they would never be punished since the girls are from a lower caste system.

Acid-attacks are on the rise in the Middle East and South East Asia because women are saying “no” to men and some men still view women as sex objects. Chanchal told one of the attackers “no” to a marriage proposal and instead of moving on, he made it his mission to ruin her life. Since acid-attacks were not considered a crime until recently, no one is sure how many women are inured each year by acid attacks but activists estimate there are as many as 1,000 attacks a year. Unlike Chanchal and Sonam, who took to the media to demand justice, most acid-attackers are forced to keep quiet due to constant threats from the attackers’ families or the police refuse to help. There is currently a petition on Change.org demanding that the sisters receive justice. While the government takes its time, these two sisters refuse to wait around and are currently campaigning for acid-attack victims. Chanchal is determined to return to school and provide for her family, but in the meantime, she removes the bandages around her face and looks at the camera, “I want the world to know what happened to me.”

Update: 

On April 23, 2013, Chancha met the DM of Patna to deliver the petition that contains over 65,000 signatures.

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Acid Attack Victim Vows to Fight

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Imagine being a 17 year-old girl, juggling time between college and work. Every night when you come home after work, the annoying male neighbors make catcalls and ask you to sleep with them – and every day you say “NO!” You tell your parents about them, but when your father goes next door to talk to their families, nothing happens. Finally, after years of  them sexually harassing you, you tell them that you are going to call the police. As you lay in bed that night, you wake up to the sensation of liquid being poured onto your face – then suddenly the pain of your face melting off jolts you awake. You used to be a beautiful girl with a promising future, but now you are blind, partially deaf, and have a face that must be covered by a scarf because of the horrific burns… you are Sonali Mukherjee.

 

Sonali Mukherjee Before the Attack

Sonali Mukherjee was a teenage college student living in Dhanbad, India when three of her male neighbors broke into her house to pour acid on her while she slept, just because she refused to sleep with them. The three men are: Tapas Mitra, Sanjay Paswan, and Brahmadev Hajra – one of them is rumored to be a married man in his 40’s.  Mitra and Paswan were supposed to spend nine years in prison, but they spent less than two years in prison after paying bail. Since Hajra was a minor at the time of the incident, he was let off the hook. While the attackers were enjoying life outside of prison, Mukherjee’s family was suffering; they were forced to move because of the constant threats from the attackers, her grandfather died from a heart attack, her mother fell into depression, and the younger sister  (who also suffered burns from the attack) was married off so she could have a life. Mukherjee had 22 surgeries performed, but the cost of the surgeries forced her family to sell land, cattle, and family jewelry.

Sonali Mukherjee

For the past nine years, Mukherjee has met several Indian government officials, but never received any aid. After her family ran out of money, Mukherjee wrote to the government, asking for permission to kill herself. Her letter was released to the media where it was seen by the producers of “Kaun Banega Crorepati” the Indian version of “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.” The producers asked her to be on the show for the Doosra Mauka (Second Chance) episode that features contestants who showed courage in the face of adversity. Mukherjee answered 10 questions correctly, winning 2.5 million rupees (or $45,000) in November, 2012.

Appearing on Kaun Banega Crorepati

Mukherjee’s journey is still not over since she still has nine operations to go through. When she is done recovering from her surgeries, she plans to continue speaking out against violence against women. Already she has helped make a difference in India; after her letter to the government was released since summer, India erupted into anger at how a woman was forced to suffer while her attackers barely spent time in jail. Mukherjee realized appearing on television is what made the difference, telling Agence France Presse “Once everything else had failed, I decided to use my face. If you can stare at a picture of a pretty woman then you can look at my burnt face too.” India ranks #4 as the worst country for women; 90% of violent crimes are against women and that number continues to increase. After receiving negative national attention about  Mukherjee, and a gang rape on a city bus that resulted in a young woman dying, the Indian government started to create laws to stop the violence.  In February 2013, the Indian government approved a law that would imprison acid attackers for 10 years to life and the Supreme Court directed officials to discuss regulating the sales of acid and to set up a fund for victims. It is up to victims, like Mukherjee, and society to continue to battle the monsters that believe women are sex toys for men. If we let the government sweep these crimes under the rug, then women will never be equal to men and will continue to be abused, raped, and murdered. Mukherjee states, “I don’t want what was done to me done to any other girls” and she vows to continue the fight…will you?

She has gone through 22 surgeries and will go through 9 more

 

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