Empowering all sections of the society irrespective of race, caste, sex, gender, and socio-economic status should be the common aim of the individual in a society. In the words of the famous economist Amartya Sen, the key to building a future is through the empowerment of women. However, society has not equally addressed the need for all women towards their upliftment especially women survivors of acid attacks. Several women face the brunt of gender-related crime, leading to facial disfigurement, psychological trauma, and a scarred future. It is the responsibility of society to cater to their educational, financial, emotional, and social needs instead of alienating them from society.
In this article, we shall observe the need to empower acid attack survivors and ways in which the society can empower women survivors of acid attacks and work towards the development of equal opportunities for all women irrespective of any boundaries whatsoever.
Let us look at the necessity for empowering the women who have survived acid attacks
Need for Empowering Acid Attack survivors
When Laxmi fought for her rights and bring justice to herself, she had to face a long struggle before laws were made criminalising acid attack as a heinous crime against defaming someone, based on gender. According to reports, India ranks no.1 globally on the chart of acid attack crimes against women. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the society to be aware and generate an acceptance of the victims as part of their members, who have a right to live a normal life. Alienating females from the society based on their past scars, weakens the link towards progress that the nation can make.
Acid attack victims can play a pivotal role in the society to spread awareness about it and help others to cope with their traumatic experiences, through awareness campaigns and counselling sessions. The organisation of sensitization programmes by non-governmental organizations can be instrumental in bringing a social change.
We will now trace the ways in which society can empower women survivors of acid attacks:
Ways in which society can empower women victims of acid attacks
According to the National Crime Records Bureau of India, about 80 cases related to acid attacks are kept pending annually and a crime against women, related to acid attacks is among the highest. To ensure that victims of acid attacks are provided with the rights and opportunities to build a life for themselves, several measures can be adopted by society:
- Rehabilitation Centres for the Acid attack survivors- Centres where trained professionals can take adequate care of both the physical and psychological well-being of the survivors are essential and a first step towards making the women feel secure and accepted. Many acid attack survivors belong to economically weaker sections of society and are often alienated due to their facial disfigurement. Rehabilitation centers can play a significant role in providing support to these women.
- Providing quality Education to the victims of acid attacks- Educating the women survivors of this heinous crime should be made compulsory to provide them with the ability to build their careers and become independent in the future. Especially in rural areas, centers for education can be set up to provide the knowledge and skills to educate women and support them to charge of their future lives as educated and learned individuals.
- Vocational Training Centres play a pivotal role in professional development- professional development has become one of the most sought-after courses in several institutes due to the necessity of nurturing individuals competent to take on roles in any workspace. Rather than ostracizing women who are survivors of acid attacks, they must be given the chance to choose a professional development course to build their skills and competencies to succeed in any field of work.
- Providing Legal support to the survivors- one of the core reasons for the lack of speedy action on cases related to acid attacks is the process of trial and the inaccessibility of legal aid to the women survivors of the attacks. Legal practitioners should tie up with non-governmental organizations in assisting the victims so that they can seek justice and the offender is put to trial for the crime. Speedy trial is essential to punish the offenders against charges of gender-based crimes.
- Counselling Sessions- Acid attack survivors should be given the chance to share their experiences in a group session as well as individual sessions with experienced practitioners, to be able to deal with their trauma, as the attack not only leaves the victims physically scarred, but lends a deep impact on their psychological well-being too. For combating their psychological issues and start leading a life of normalcy, it is integral to provide counselling services to these women. Awareness programmes about such sessions must be available for every member of the society to provide their assistance to the victims. When a person is psychologically well, she can develop herself and prepare herself for her future.
As socially responsible citizens, we must ensure that women from disadvantaged sections of the society who have been victims of this horrific crime can be assisted to find a forum to voice themselves. They must be given an opportunity to live life independently and with full freedom of choice in terms of their career choices and life choices. We must recognize the importance of every woman in participating in the progress of the nation. Equality begins when every hurdle can be overcome with the correct measures taken towards equal representation of all women in different sections of society.
Section 326 A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) criminalizes acid attack as a horrific crime which is an act of misogyny and a person is punishable for 10 years of imprisonment. The National Commission for Women provides guidelines for the rehabilitation of the acid attack victims and provides a detailed report about banning sale of acid in the markets, providing skill enhancement programmes. It also states that at all levels of the community, urban, rural schools and workplaces, there should be awareness regarding means to support the survivors of such attacks.