The Real Face of Courage
Indian acid attack victim Laxmi was honored by the International Women of Courage Award
By: Mohini Sharma
Yes she is the same laxmi who was fighting the battle for her life at a time. No one can reveal the pain she has bear, all the trauma she had undergone mentally, physically and emotionally. But fighting against her fate was the only choice she had. And now she is the WINNER, not in our country India but the world is saluting to the courage of a 16 year old girl, who fought and won. Laxmi Agarwal, a middle class family girl and now an Indian campaigner with Stop Acid Attacks. She is an acid attack survivor and speaks for the rights of acid attack victims. She was attacked in 2005 at age 16, by a 32-year-old man, nahim khan whose advances she had rejected Just for the sake of his faulty ego, the guy tried to finish a girl’s life. For shattering her dreams, he awarded with a seven years sentence but the scars on laxmi’s face will remain forever. But she was a fighter, not a victim. Her story, among others, was told in a series on acid attack victims by Hindustan Times. She has also advocated against acid attacks through gathering 27,000 signatures for a petition to curb acid sales, and taking that cause to the Indian Supreme Court. Her petition led the Supreme Court to order the central and state governments to regulate the sale of acid, and the Parliament to make prosecutions of acid attacks easier to pursue.
She is the director of Chhanv Foundation, a NGO dedicated to help the survivors of acid attacks in India. The monthly rent for the apartment from which Chanv operates is Rs 18,000, a sum covered by Stop Acid Attacks.
Laxmi received a 2014 International Women of Courage award by US First Lady Michelle Obama at an awards ceremony in Washington. The award was presented to Laxmi along with other awardees from countries across the globe. Established in 2007, the annual Secretary of State's International Women of Courage Award honors women around the globe who have exemplified exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for human rights, women's equality, and social progress, often at great personal risk. This is the only Department of State award that pays tribute to emerging women leaders worldwide.
She was also chosen as the NDTV Indian of the Year. Laxmi stated her career as a campaigner with Stop Acid Attacks campaign. She worked as a campaign coordinator in initial days. Soon, Laxmi became a voice of the survivors of Acid Attacks across world. She received multiple awards in India for her work to curb the sale of acid and to rehabilitate the survivors of acid attacks through her foundation.
Udaan, on New Express is also hosted by Laxmi as of June 2014.
"Many acid attack victims never return to normal life: they often go to great lengths to hide their disfigurement, many forgo education or employment rather than appear in public, and suicide is not uncommon. But Laxmi did not hide," the State Department said."She became the standard-bearer in India for the movement to end acid attacks. She made repeated appearances on national television, gathered 27,000 signatures for a petition to curb acid sales, and took her cause to the Indian Supreme Court," it said.
"Laxmi's petition led the Supreme Court to order the Indian central and state governments to regulate immediately the sale of acid, and the Parliament to make prosecutions of acid attacks easier to pursue," the State Department said.
"Much is left to be done, and Laxmi continues to advocate on behalf of acid attack victims throughout India for increased compensation, effective prosecution and prevention of acid attacks, and rehabilitation of survivors," it said.
Laxmi, along with other acid attack survivors started a hunger strike demanding immediate justice and rehabilitation for acid attack survivors. She has written a poem describing what she has gone through.
“When we see these women raise their voices and move their feet and empower others to create change, we need to realize that each of us has that same power and that same obligation,” Michelle Obama said in her speech.
“We are not victims, but fighters: Laxmi”
She gives hope to everyone for their right and became a voice for the ones who think of themselves weaker. She comes across like a born leader and inspires the victims to be a fighter.
(Stars can’t shine without darkness)