THE SUNDAY STORY Laws to protect women need to be strengthened and implemented in the strictest possible manner, Delhi-based girl Laxmi, victim of an acid attack, says.
A public interest litigation petition filed by the Delhi-based girl Laxmi, victim of an acid attack in 2005 when she was only 16, recently prompted the Supreme Court to direct the Central government to ensure that “acid attacks on women are taken seriously and to bring in suitable amendments to deal with them as a serious offence.”
The court also directed that the government look into the rehabilitation of the victims (medical expenses and also livelihood) and ensure that sale of acid be strictly regulated.
So while laws and measures are now being put in place to prevent acid attacks and offer adequate rehabilitation to the victims, life, as Laxmi says for her today, “is nothing more than a very cruel joke.” This young girl, in her early twenties now, has lost her father (the breadwinner) and lives with her mother who is unemployed and brother who was diagnosed with tuberculosis and is undergoing treatment. “Today I stand alone. I have no friends, our relatives avoid us, and there has been no support from the government so far. My father who worked as a cook was helped by his employer — who funded all my seven surgeries and supported us through our worst times. In the attack, my face was completely disfigured (the ears, eyes, nose and neck) and there are injuries on my hands as well,” says Laxmi.
“Though two of the three men who attacked me have been punished, life will go on for them after their jail term is over but for me the punishment is life long. Today, my family is struggling to survive and ensure that we have something as basic as adequate food. I am desperately looking for a job to support my family. We stand very alone today with no help from anyone. I am unable to even step out of my house without curious stares and comments,” says Laxmi.
Laws to protect women need to be strengthened and implemented in the strictest possible manner, she says. “This one incident has ruined my family and my life. The only way to protect women against such attacks is to ensure that there are enough laws and strict punishment.’’
Speaking about Laxmi’s case, her lawyer Aparna Bhat said: “Laxmi is from a lower middle class family, and when her father was alive, he managed to get his daughter access to treatment and even got her trained in various professional courses with the help of his employer. Today, life has come to a standstill for this young girl, and the family is in need of financial assistance and rehabilitation. Having lost her father, Laxmi is also without any emotional support now.”