What We Do
It was the year 2013 that we, a group of friends started Stop Acid Attacks campaign against acid violence. During that period of continuous struggle, we found that acid attack ‘victims’ were shown the least concern be it in jobs, education or even by the government, police, and courts. And it was then in the year 2014 that the team decided to turn our campaign into a registered organization for the rehabilitation of acid attack survivors.
While helping survivors to rehabilitate and providing them jobs, we found that many of them lacked professional skills and so we thought that a café could be the only place where both the skilled and non-skilled ones can work and earn together besides spreading awareness to other people about acid attacks. Thus, the idea of Sheroes Hangout came up. A venue where new wave feminism evolves every day to overcome the challenges faced by women in South Asian societies and cultures.
We started Sheroes Hangout in Agra in December 2014. Today, with two cafes, in Agra & Lucknow, the foundation has employed 30 survivors and added value in the life of hundreds of other girls by providing them counseling, medical help, career and education opportunities.
Acid attacks are intensely inhuman crimes because the perpetrators plan to disfigure the victims rather than kill them. Perpetrators usually attack victims with hydrochloric, sulphuric, or nitric acid, which quickly burns through flesh and bone. These attacks make victims disfigured, often blinded, and severely traumatized. Women in different parts of India have faced acid attacks from men for several reasons, most common among them is a refusal of proposal. Men track down these women, accost them and attack them with acid leaving them severely scarred. Though the physical injuries may heal after laborious and multiple operations, the mental injuries remain for life. The act rarely kills but causes severe physical, psychological and social scarring, and victims are often left with no legal recourse, limited access to medical or psychological assistance, and without the means to support themselves.
The very first objective of the Chhanv Foundation is to become aware of the society how these attacks could ruin not only anyone’s face but also the whole life, how these attacks could change one’s identity. We try to create some awareness through our few activities like Campaign Stop Acid Attacks, Events Protests, Social Media, Programs in College Universities & Mass Media (film, documentaries).
Campaign: STOP ACID ATTACKS
In recent times acid has emerged as one of the most destructive weapons against women which is easily available. Acids are used to crush a woman’s identity and dignity. It is one of the most brutal attacks of our times. Sadly the Indian government has not developed any mechanism to curb the crisis of Acid Attacks.
Stop Acid Attacks campaign has taken the massive task of creating a network of Acid Attack survivors in India, to reintegrate them back into society. The network will work to ensure skill development for the Acid Attack survivors. It is a people’s movement raising a voice to end Acid Attacks in India. The campaign has been fighting a legal and administrative battle to regulate the sale of Acids in retail shops in the country, which is illegally available as a cheaper substitute for toilet cleaner. Currently, more than 100 Acid Attack survivors are actively associated with the campaign, who have taken the role of Campaigners for the movement. SAA is a volunteer-driven movement, working under the Chhanv Foundation. The campaign sustains itself through crowdfunding.
The foundation’s campaign Stop Acid Attacks is a seminal effort in bringing awareness of the rising number of acid violence occurring in India. Our network of acid attack survivors is greeted with praise by all corners of society for their restless fight to stop such violence. Sheroes have turned out as places where faces with scars are not behind the scenes. Sheroes’ is a power to reckon with — a mighty effort and narrative of our moving times. Once burnt and scarred for life, there are around 30 survivors who are fellow humans slowly shedding the veil and counting on courage and their contributions have posted our advocacy on the acid attack.
The girls and the team of the Chhanv Foundation have actively involved in participating in outdoor events and forums where we can speak up against acid violence and its prevalence in our society. Such events include many TEDx talks organized in colleges and universities in the North India region. The associated team members of our also have been key speakers in the influential forums organized by various other organizations and commissions for women.
The acid survivor girls have also gone cross borders to spread the awareness of such social crime as acid attacks are in India and the neighboring countries.
In this way, the girls participate in various social events and ceremonies around the country to speak up for themselves, their stories of survival and sensitize masses against the crime.
The Major events in which we participated are;
Various fashion shows have been held around the nation and at Sheroes Hangout. These fashion shows exhibit not only clothes also but they bring along women on stage as models. Lately, the girls of Sheroes Hangout have been changing the stereotypes on the fashion ramps. They redefine the definition of beauty for many people as they walk the ramp instead. In the fashion industry beauty is often objectified in the physical features. The face of the woman is looked like an object to call it beautiful. In most cases of acid attacks, the face is often targeted with acid. In this number of fashion shows, it is to portray that beauty can never be destroyed with acid.
2. TEDx Talks
TEDx organized in most prominent institutes of India has given a platform to many individuals in sharing their stories of fight back. The girls of Sheroes Hangout have been opportune in sharing their stories on such platforms across many institutes in India. Few TEDx talks attended by team Chhanv Foundation;
TEDx IIM Lucknow Acid Survivor Anshu Rajput
TEDx SRMU Lucknow Acid Survivor Ritu and Founder Ashish Shukla
TEDx IIM Ranchi Acid Survivor Ritu