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Acid attacks: when love turns into hate

German photographer Ann-Christine Woehrl has taken pictures of women who survived acid attacks – and discovered extraordinary strength.

Acid attacks in several Asian countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan have been plaguing women for a very long time. In fact, even men have sometimes fallen prey to obsessed lovers who use this method to take revenge. Here is a repost of an older Women Talk Online report in which an acid attack survivor, Sonali Mukherjee, spoke to Samrah Fatima about her experiences.That one night turned my life upside down! My body got seventy percent burnt. I could neither see nor hear nor talk. All that could mark me alive was my breath. I kept wondering why I not die that night, and today I have the answer.

I don’t know how many of you believe that all of us have got our life with a purpose, but I do feel I was given this second life to be an inspiration to other girls who have been attacked with acid.

Sonali Mukherjee is still coming to terms with her life

It was a dark April night in the year 2003 when some boys from my neighbourhood threw acid on me. What I can never forget is how this one mean act of some cruel men destroyed my existence forever as a National Cadet (student social activity group) and a charming dancer. All of us are aware how it is for a girl to get compliments for her beauty and charm, something which I had lost forever.

There came a time when I saw my family struggling for my treatment, for their livelihood and for justice. That was when I lost my courage and begged the court to grant me euthanasia. I didn’t want to live a life like that. At the same time I also knew my death would only put my family in more pain and grief. The other option I had in life was to deal with this situation as a fighter and I am glad I chose this option.

The boys responsible for the incident were roaming around free on the streets. They were released on bail. I knew I could not live with this emotional baggage. I spoke with the media, openly addressing the issue and came across some nice people who extended their hand to help me fight this battle. They are now helping me financially and supporting me emotionally every now and then. I have undergone 22 surgeries already and have many more to go. I have also filed my court case against those boys again. Considering the Indian law system I am not sure if I will win, but I am glad I will not die with the regret of not having fought my battle.

I am happy that I no more feel shy for something I was never responsible for. I developed a strange power in me and now can walk on streets with my head held high. There are many other girls like me who have been the victims of such acid attacks, they now take me as an inspiration and understand that they don’t have to feel shy. I am happy that those boys also live with this fear that I may get justice and they may be behind the bars someday. And this is why I did not die!

As told to Samrah Fatima

Editor: Manasi Gopalakrishnan


13.10.2014 | 8:30