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Breaking Stereotypes: Acid Attacks Know No Gender

Acid attacks | Unveiling the Unseen Pain of Both Male and Female Survivors in a World of Inequality

By The Probe Staff
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In our previous podumentary, we delved into the heart-wrenching stories of women who survived acid attacks, shedding light on their experiences and the challenges they faced in their pursuit of justice. Today, we continue our exploration into the harrowing world of acid attacks, but with a broader perspective. 

Read More: Behind the Scars: Acid Attack Survivors’ Battle for Justice

These incidents, we must remember, are not exclusive to any gender. Instead of viewing this issue through a narrow gender lens, we aim to emphasise that acid attacks are acts of violence that affect both men and women. In this podumentary, we'll hear from survivors who have endured unimaginable pain and suffering, irrespective of their gender. We'll also examine the disturbing pattern of delayed and denied justice that plagues these cases. One such survivor is Chandrahass Mishra, whose life took a tragic turn when he bravely intervened to protect women from an eve-teaser.

Breaking Stereotypes: Acid Attacks Know No Gender Boundaries

Chandrahass Mishra | Acid attack survivor
Chandrahass Mishra | Acid attack survivor | Photo courtesy: Special arrangement

Chandrahass Mishra, an acid attack survivor, shares his harrowing journey, highlighting the discrimination faced by male survivors. "Acid attacks affect both men and women, yet discrimination in compensation persists. I was living my life just like any normal person... Then, on September 8, 2011, he followed me and carried out the acid attack and my life came to a standstill," recounts Mishra.

In the narrative surrounding acid attacks, there exists a pervasive misconception - one that suggests these heinous acts are only inflicted upon women. However, such a simplistic perspective obscures a far more complex reality. Acid attacks should not be seen through the prism of gender alone. They must be seen as acts of extreme violence that transcend the boundaries of gender.

"The data that states these incidents (acid attacks) happen to women and not men is incorrect... These attacks happen on both men and women," emphasises Mishra.

In India, male acid attack survivors face discrimination and a lack of support. They encounter judgement at every step, from the initial attack to the filing of an FIR and even during court proceedings. When a man falls victim to an acid attack, society tends to pass judgement and come up with its own theories about the incident. Mishra's story illustrates how he not only became a survivor of an acid attack but also had to endure discrimination, societal judgments, and taunts in its aftermath.

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"The difference between an acid attack survivor and an acid attack accused is that the latter can do all their work and carry about with life like nothing happened... But for the survivors, we have to face the trauma every day," states Mishra.

Till date, the person who carried out the attack on Mishra walks freely, while Mishra grapples with the daily challenges and physical pain. Beyond the physical scars, there are the scars that time cannot heal—the emotional and psychological trauma that lingers. Families grappling with the aftermath of an acid attack often find themselves reluctant to approach the police or the courts. And for those who do seek justice, the road is often a long and arduous one.

"In 2020-21, a judgement came that I won... he knew he had to take bail... Punishing him or letting him go felt the same. Till date, the one who carried out the attack is free," laments Mishra.

Anisa Nissar's Story: A Father’s Unwavering Determination and Quest for Justice

In 2021, Anisa Nissar became the target of an acid attack after she decided to end her engagement with a man who had been harassing her with relentless demands. The attack left Anisa with severe burn injuries, and in her quest for justice, it's her father who has been tirelessly seeking recourse for his daughter. While many cases feature women as victims, there are instances where brothers, husbands, and in Anisa's case, fathers, dedicate their entire lives to secure justice for their loved ones.

Nissar Ahmad Chiloo | Acid attack survivor
Nissar Ahmad Chiloo | Acid attack survivor | Photo courtesy: Special arrangement

"This happened on February 1, 2021... I was very scared, and it was very dark. As I got closer to my home, suddenly he appeared in front of me and threw acid on me. After that, I didn’t know anything and went into trauma," shares Anisa.

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Anisa's father, Nissar Ahmad Chiloo, fights tirelessly for justice and medical care for his daughter after she became an acid attack victim. Chiloo told us that the acid attack had completely overturned his life. He had to sell everything he owned, including household items and his wife's ornaments, just to ensure that his daughter could seek justice and get medical treatment. He has been travelling with his daughter from Kashmir to Chennai regularly to secure treatment but now he has run out of money. However, Nissar remains determined and resolute. He is willing to pool together the last bits of his resources to secure justice for his daughter and ensure her medical care.

"We have faced so many problems and so much pain... That guy and the others involved must receive such a punishment that deters others from committing such acts," asserts Chiloo.

The Dark Side of Family Ties: Daulat Bi Khan's Shocking Ordeal

Daulat Bi Khan | Acid attack survivor
Daulat Bi Khan | Acid attack survivor | Photo courtesy: Special arrangement

In many cases, the perpetrators are not only men. Acid attacks can stem from family disputes, and sometimes, family members themselves become the culprits. Even women can be responsible for such attacks. In the case of Daulat Bi Khan, it was her elder sister and her husband who perpetrated the attack against her.

"According to the judgement, the three culprits were sentenced to 10 years of punishment, but all three of them were released in just 3 months. What kind of justice is this?" asks Daulat.

Women as Perpetrators in Acid Attacks - Mokima's Story

Mokima | Acid attack survivor
Mokima | Acid attack survivor | Photo courtesy: Special arrangement

Mokima's case closely resembles that of Daulat. In both instances, the perpetrators of the acid attack were women, a distressing fact that challenges the common perception of such crimes being solely committed by men. Unfortunately, as in Daulat's case, the accused in Mokima's case were also released on bail.

"I would like to say that the ones who attack using acid, the same acid should be poured on them so that they understand the agony and the life-altering consequences it brings," Mokima fervently states.

In these heartbreaking stories, there is a common thread of pain, injustice, and resilience. Acid attacks are a crime that transcends gender, affecting both men and women. The survivors we've encountered have displayed extraordinary courage and determination in their quest for justice and healing. It's a stark reminder that while the physical scars may remain, the spirit of survival burns brighter. Their stories urge us to challenge stereotypes and misconceptions surrounding acid attacks. Amidst the agony of survivors and the horror of acid attacks, one must ask: Is governmental neglect and judicial apathy the price survivors pay for their scars?

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