No one’s alone: Acid attack survivor Laxmi Agarwal stands by women in distress
Laxmi has asked women across India to connect to her through social media if they face harassment or domestic violence during the lockdownUpdated: Apr 29, 2020 23:17 IST
A survivor of a brutal hate crime and acid attack, Laxmi Agarwal has come ahead to support women who are facing harassment and violence in the lockdown. Laxmi has asked women across India to reach out to her without hesitation if they face harassment or violence during the lockdown. The activist will connect them to lawyers, police and mental health counselors. “I want to tell these women that they are not alone, they are warriors in their own ways,” says Agarwal.
The 29-year old has been hosting lives on Instagram for her fans and has been encouraging women to fight back. She says, “I intend using this time for the benefit of others. I have done lives on many topics up till now, such as LGBT issues and mental health. Now I want to take up the issue of domestic violence. There has been a sharp rise in such incidents which is very alarming.”
She feels strongly for the victims of domestic abuse. With restrictions on movement aimed to stop the spread of the coronavirus all over the world, a new type of virus is on the prowl, that of domestic abuse. Isolation has led to a darker consequence, and violence in homes has become more frequent, more severe and more dangerous.
Laxmi is forming a support group in association with activist Yogita Bhayana, founder, PARI (People Against Rape In India) to stand by women who are victims of domestic violence.
Laxmi says, “I get calls from many women including acid-attack survivors as to how their husbands and parents-in law are torturing them during this phase. In one case this newly married girl walked from Faridabad to Safdarjung at night in search for help. But with no help in sight, she had to return to the torture chamber.”
Since the beginning of COVID-19-related stay-at-home orders, domestic violence calls have increased with people being cooped up at home, tempers more likely to be flaring, leading to abusers lashing out. Laxmi says, “During the epidemic, people are unable to go outside, and their conflicts grow bigger and more frequent. The lockdown was put to protect lives but it is shocking to see what females have had to endure through this life-saving procedure.”
With the police focusing on enforcing the lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus, females have no where to go and Laxmi’s counselling sessions might just be the balm on their wounds. She says, “Supporting victims of domestic abuse is a priority for me, and I am fully aware of the distress and anxiety this period may cause to those suffering or at risk of domestic abuse. I can’t reach to these people but police should try to intervene. Haath uthane se nahi, baat karne se solution nikalta hai.”
She tries to counsel them and motivates them through her online sessions on her Instagram handle, @thelaxmiagarwal. She says, “Through my counselling sessions over the years, I have dissuaded many from committing suicide. During this period too, I am trying my best to guide people through it all.”
Bickering is inevitable but can easily spiral into all-out brawls when confined to a small space without anywhere to go. “Couples should really broaden their experience at this time and make room for their partner’s ideas and viewpoints leading to open discussions which can bring couples closer,” says Laxmi.
She further recommends couples to spend time with each other, play games and get to know each other well as this time won’t come back. ‘’Time barbaad karne se achha hai ki abaad karein.”