Geeta Mahaur, now 46, was sleeping with her two infant daughters when her husband poured acid on them. Her only fault was giving birth to two daughters when her in-laws wanted a son.
That was 21 years ago. The attack left Geeta’s face and body scarred, but could not corrode her determination. Now Geeta works at Agra’s Sheroes Hangout Café and is a face of the fight against acid attack in the country, which has one of the highest rates of acid violence in the world.
“My three-year-old daughter Neetu survived with deep burns, but my younger daughter, who was less than two years, died. It took me nine months to be okay,” Geeta told HT on Sunday.
She was one of the five acid attack survivors who were felicitated by social organisation Prerna ahead of International Women’s Day in Bhopal.
Geeta, her daughter Nitu, now 24, Dolly, 15, Rani, 24, and Rupa, 24, also walked down the ramp at the event organised in association with New Delhi’s Stop Acid Attack and Chaav Foundation to recognise the grit and determination of these women to lead a normal life, devoid of any sense of victimisation that generally looms over acid attack survivors.
“Since the time I gained my senses, I was like this. For the first time when I saw the mirror, I cried seeing my face, but I fought and today I am a confident girl. I take life as it comes,” said Nitu.
Her strength has inspired many, including Dolly.
“We are each other’s strength. It’s only after I saw Nitu didi that I started going out without wearing a scarf or mask. People looked at me with disgust because of my face, but I am confident about who I am. I want to be a dancer and I am taking dance lessons,” she said. Her neighbour had poured the corrosive liquid on the girl when she had rejected his sexual advances.
Rani too was attacked by her spurned lover who was a soldier. “I almost came back from death. I cannot even define what I went through. I never thought I could lead a normal life. It is bliss to be able to talk and sing again. I dream to be an anchor one day,” she said.
A costume designer, Rupa was all smiles at the fashion show. Attacked by her stepmother when she was in Class 6, the woman has so far undergone 12 surgeries. The pain is ebbing, but the scar of being attacked by a mother remains, she said.
53 acid attacks in MP in 2014
According to the data of ministry of home affairs, over 300 acid attack cases were reported across India in 2014
MP recorded 53 acid attack cases in 2014, while UP recorded 185 cases
Mayor Alok Sharma pledged a fund of Rs 2 lakh to NGO Prerna. He also assured to prohibit sale of acid in city.