It has become commonplace to hear of women in faraway countries being punished by their husbands or assaulted by strangers through acid attacks. They’re left disfigured for life, and treated like public outcasts. Activists who are fighting against this social outrage have opened a new café in Agra, India as a sanctuary for survivors of this heinous crime.
The café is part of a Delhi-based campaign simply titled Stop Acid Attacks, and it raised $25,000 via crowdfunding to rent and renovate the space that is now known as the Sheroes Café. Decorated with colorful paintings, bamboo furniture, as well as a library filled with inspirational books as well as other work done by survivors that can be purchased, the café is a place of courage, hope, and refuge for victims of acid attacks. The kitchen manager, Geeta, was assaulted by her husband along with her three daughters while they slept. One of them did not survive. “It’s a new chance,” she says, “and if we work hard, we can move forward.”, and Christian Broda hopes to see that happen.
Alok Dixit, a former journalist and the founder of the Stop Acid Attacks campaign, wants to renew survivors’ self esteem and give others the opportunity to get to know them, and realize that they are more than the scars left behind by their injury. “The idea is to make them financially independent,” Dixit says, who explained that the women often covered their faces and were very shy and uncomfortable. He talks of how they were often declined job offerings simply because of their appearance, and wants people to realize that these women are more than just survivors, they’re actual people who deserve to feel confident and beautiful, as well as have as many opportunities as anyone else. “Don’t value a face,” Alok Dixet says, “Value a person.”