A very disturbing trend in our society is the rise in crime against women. One of the most brutal and revolting crime is acid violence. Srei Foundation has set up the Acid Survivors Foundation of India (ASFI) (formerly known as the Acid Survivors Trust India) in February 2010 for setting up countrywide centres for care, treatment and rehabilitation of acid victims and for preventing and eliminating this menace by generating awareness through campaigns, public education, regulatory and other appropriate measures. It is an in-country partner of the Acid Survivors Trust International (ASTI), a London based charity and centre of excellence in this field. ASFI plays the role of a coordinating agency in providing support to the acid survivors in recovery by enabling access to treatment & rehabilitation, counselling & therapy, justice and hand holding. This is done through building up the capacity of the local level NGOs as well as the professionals involved with this issue, for example, doctors, public prosecutors and the police.
ASFI has been providing support to many survivors of the acid attack through a network of chapters in India and has impacted their lives positively to ensure that the victims can reintegrate into mainstream society. Brief study of some of the cases out of the hundreds of lives that they have influenced is:
Married at the age of 13 to Pobitra Pramanik, Moyna lived with husband and in laws. In the year 2000 she was blessed with a daughter. However, on August 24, 2001, she was attacked by her husband, mother-in-law and brother– in- law.
Moyna's parents were very poor. She had passed standard VIII when a marriage proposal came her way. Her parents agreed to the proposal as the groom's family did not want any dowry (as it was the groom's second marriage). Soon after a daughter was born in the year 2000, they started demanding a dowry of Rs.50,000/- and misbehaved and tortured her. Her ordeal was gradually becoming unbearable when they poured acid on her face and neck and then doused her in kerosene and set her face on fire.
The neighbours admitted her to Baharampur State General Hospital and later referred to NRS Hospital Kolkata for treatment. She filed a written complaint and was able to get her husband and mother-in-law detained for 45 days after which they were out on bail. She did not have the finances to pursue the legal option further.
Moyna now lives with her parents and daughter. Her face and neck are grossly scarred and would require further operations to remove the scars. She has been pursuing her education and hopes to pass her Uchha Madhyamik examinations soon. However, her brothers and sisters-in-law have started misbehaving and torturing her to leave their home and go back to her husband instead.
Moyna recalls, "I was attacked with acid, doused in kerosene and set alight by my husband and in-laws because I failed to give them a male heir and gave birth to a girl child. I used to feel depressed that fate had made me a burden on my aged parents on whom I was dependent for all my needs. ASFI rehabilitated me by giving me an electric sewing machine and providing me capital for a tailoring unit. Today I make pillow cases and not only support myself but also my daughter's education."
Given her sheer courage and determination, ASFI is positive that Moyna will see a brighter future tomorrow with its assistance.
Rita, a 24 year old young woman was happily married but a single incident changed her life forever. She chanced upon her mother-in-law having an illicit relationship with another person. Following acrimony and apprehension of her revealing the family's misdeeds led her husband and mother-in-law to attempt to silence her by forcing her to swallow a litre of acid.Neighbours admitted her to NRS Hospital, Kolkata later referred to P.G (SSKM) Hospital for treatment. Akash Bangla, a TV Channel showcased her plight which helped her to get support from a NGO named Human Development & Research Institute which arranged for her to undergo several operations at AIIMS, New Delhi. The attack has destroyed her vocal chords due to which she is unable to speak. She also has difficulty in swallowing food.With her little education, she filed a written complaint and was able to get her husband and mother-in-law prosecuted and sent to jail for 10 years. Further operations to stabilise her throat and stomach is needed. She wishes to get her perpetuators' punishment period to be extended.Rita recapitulates, "My misfortune of chancing upon my mother-in-law's misdeeds led to my being silenced for life by my husband and in-laws forcibly pouring acid down my throat. ASFI helped me with my medical treatment which enabled me to eat semi-solid food. It has also facilitated my rehabilitation by giving me a sewing machine with which I am earning a living."ASFI is now trying to set up donation for her to start a garment shop, utilising the space she already has
Sampa Barman, 17 year old teenager lived with her parents and niece. A student of standard XI, Sampa's teenage dreams were shattered in August, 2013 when a farm worker in his early twenties threw acid on her face when she spurned his advances.The attacker used to wait for her on her way to school and had pestering her and her family to accept his proposal. However, when the proposal was turned down and Sampa's marriage was fixed elsewhere, an enraged attacker removed the roof tile, entered her room and threw acid on the face of the sleeping girl. Sampa's 4.5 year old niece also suffered burns on her abdomen and legs.Neighbours took the girls to the local health centre. An FIR was lodged against the accused who is still absconding.Sampa laments, "As a 17 year old girl studying in standard XI little did I know that rejecting a marriage proposal from a little known person would cost me my vision, cause serious acid burns to my kid sister and ruin my family financially. ASFI helped me with my medical treatment to save my vision partially. I hope to continue with my schooling once I recover."ASFI will continue to endeavour to help raise funds for Sampa's further treatment.
Contributed towards making India a 'Polio free' country by organising a pulse polio camp at Shibpore Power station. At the camp, children up to five years of age are given immunization. Benefits were availed by both employees' children and local children.
India Power provides free water supply to the villages of Jhalbagan, Boldi and Rakta, benefiting approximately 3,750 rural residents.
Street lights have been made available at subsidized rates in the Majhi / Santhal Para in Manohar Chawk and Asanbani Mouza, areas adjacent to the Shibpore Power Station unit.