A few years ago, my locality had a lady who'd iron everyone's clothes; 'presswali', as she was called fondly by everyone who'd give their clothes to her so she could iron them every week. She had a thriving business and she loved what she did. She had a son, who was about six, at the time, and had lost her husband a few years ago due to severe alcoholism. Yes, her personal life was dissected by many aunties living around the locality who did business with her.
What was in the depths of the unknown was the fact that someone used to harass her constantly for sexual favours, which she used to vehemently deny. Because she was a low wage earner from a stratum of society that would never get due justice for all her troubles, she didn't report the man to the police, only because they would certainly turn a blind eye towards it, or harass her in turn.
The brave woman decided to deal with the situation herself and that left an indomitable mark on her face and her life, for good.
© The National
Sarita, the 'presswali', was attacked with acid on her face by the man who was harassing her for refusing his sexual advances constantly. He didn't want her to die. Of course, he wouldn't. He just wanted her to suffer for the rest of her life, while making it tougher for her to make ends meet. She still lives in the same locality, making a living, while the man who ruined her face and her life is absconding. It's been almost ten years now.
© India TV
Acid survivors have a very tough and complicated survival instinct after going through an acid attack. After Laxmi Agarwal spearheaded the campaign to stop the sale of acid in markets, a lot of survivors came forth to talk about their struggles and their lives with the world.
Deepika Padukone is even playing Laxmi (as an acid attack victim) in her next film titled Chhappak releasing in January 2020. But apart from the survivors coming forth and garnering enough support from society, there are also organisations which aid them to further enhance their skills and lead a normal and healthy life.
Shah Rukh Khan's NGO called the Meer Foundation rehabilitates acid survivors in India and empowers them further to stand up and fight for their rights. The NGO was founded in 2013 and it's monitored closely by King Khan himself, reminding the survivors that beauty isn't skin deep.
"Women are often made to feel powerless, have restrictions imposed on them, and are punished for the choices they make, or for simply saying 'no'. These cases of oppression usually stem from a lack of respect and empathy, which is in stark contrast to what I try to personify every day. In fact, it is my conviction in women's rights that compels me to act – especially when I learn of atrocities like acid attacks. I believe that, when faced with violence, women need a friend – someone they can rely on, who can help them face these hurdles and come out stronger. Meer is that friend." Shah Rukh Khan says through a note on the Meer Foundation's website.
To show his solidarity and the fact that he's connected with every individual who is a part of the foundation, SRK recently took to Twitter to share some rather happy news. Anupama, an acid attack survivor, who is associated with his foundation tied the knot recently and Shah Rukh congratulated her on her new beginning in life. The wish seemed genuine and from the heart and this further deepens our respect for King Khan.
"Congratulations and my love to Anupama as she starts on this new journey of life. May it be filled with love light and laughter. U r the man Jagdeep...and may u both have double the reasons to be happy with this union."
Congratulations and my love to Anupama as she starts on this new journey of life. May it be filled with love light and laughter. U r the man Jagdeep...and may u both have double the reasons to be happy with this union. https://t.co/hANJGRLD8P— Shah Rukh Khan (@iamsrk) November 20, 2019
For those who don't know, SRK, along with an initiative called ToGETher Transformed, wants to get corrective surgeries for at least 50 acid survivors, so they can live a healthy and normal life. He met the survivors earlier this year and interacted with them about the same.
All of u please put ur hands in prayer...and say Bhagwan inki zindagi ki nayi shuruaat mein...inpar karam karna...May God have mercy on them...Insha Allah. These r my sisters & need ur prayers for recovery, without distinguishing between the mode of prayer https://t.co/JjE8ZM08mX— Shah Rukh Khan (@iamsrk) March 28, 2019
“Beauty is not skin deep, is often said but not really felt. We all need well, but we look away, we shy away from looking at things that are unpleasant, yet we want social acceptance for ourselves, we discriminate from inside, yet we fight for empowerment, yes we all need well, but we do look away,” SRK had said in a video.
While we celebrate beauty in all its glory, acid attack victims struggle to even look into the mirror, every day. But it's people like King Khan who make these women believe in who they truly are and honour their worth a lot more than they do.
We need more people in this world like him and we hope his foundation continues to help and empower women all over the country.