Sheroes

In 2016 I met four acid attack survivors at a restaurant in Agra, India, called Sheroes' Hangout. Victims of acid attacks in India are often disowned by their families, and left with no job or marriage prospects. Sheroes' aims to change the stigma by employing acid attack survivors and by providing a supportive and accepting community that rehabilitates, emboldens and reintegrates survivors back into society. These are their stories.

Ritu was 16 when her cousin threw acid on her. She lost her left eye, and her lips were melted together in the attack. She had been a star volleyball player, but because of vision issues after losing her eye, she can no longer play. 

Ritu was 16 when her cousin threw acid on her. She lost her left eye, and her lips were melted together in the attack. She had been a star volleyball player, but because of vision issues after losing her eye, she can no longer play. 

Dolly, 16 (via a translator): "I was 13. There was a (33-year-old) man named Bradeep in the neighborhood who used to chase me. He used to stare at me and my sisters and try to take advantage of the girls, so he came and we fought with him. I asked my parents to stop him and they fought with him. He threatened to kill us and tried to molest my sisters and me every way possible. I was playing with my sisters and again he tried, so we opposed him. He had already come with a bottle of acid and threw acid at us. He tried to attack all three of us, but it mostly hit me."

Dolly, 16 (via a translator): "I was 13. There was a (33-year-old) man named Bradeep in the neighborhood who used to chase me. He used to stare at me and my sisters and try to take advantage of the girls, so he came and we fought with him. I asked my parents to stop him and they fought with him. He threatened to kill us and tried to molest my sisters and me every way possible. I was playing with my sisters and again he tried, so we opposed him. He had already come with a bottle of acid and threw acid at us. He tried to attack all three of us, but it mostly hit me."

Rupa, 22 (via a translator): "I was 15 years old when I was attacked by my stepmom. I was sleeping outside and my stepmom, around 2:00 a.m., poured acid on me. She wanted to keep me like a slave for my life so I can be helpful in the kitchen, help clean, do laundry." After the attack, Rupa's father disowned her, and her stepmother went to jail, so her uncle took care of her. When she visits her family she is required to cover her face because they're still not used to her scars. In addition to working at Sheroes', Rupa also sells her own clothing designs.

Rupa, 22 (via a translator): "I was 15 years old when I was attacked by my stepmom. I was sleeping outside and my stepmom, around 2:00 a.m., poured acid on me. She wanted to keep me like a slave for my life so I can be helpful in the kitchen, help clean, do laundry." After the attack, Rupa's father disowned her, and her stepmother went to jail, so her uncle took care of her. When she visits her family she is required to cover her face because they're still not used to her scars. In addition to working at Sheroes', Rupa also sells her own clothing designs.

Shabbo was attacked when she was one month old; her father threw acid on her mother, who was holding her. Shabbo's mother died as a result, and her father went to prison. She grew up in an orphanage and eventually got her degree from university. Because this is all she has ever known, she has never felt the need to wear a face cover, and encourages other survivors to feel the same.

Shabbo was attacked when she was one month old; her father threw acid on her mother, who was holding her. Shabbo's mother died as a result, and her father went to prison. She grew up in an orphanage and eventually got her degree from university. Because this is all she has ever known, she has never felt the need to wear a face cover, and encourages other survivors to feel the same.

Dolly, Rupa and Shabbo take a selfie at Sheroes' Hangout on June 12, 2016.

Dolly, Rupa and Shabbo take a selfie at Sheroes' Hangout on June 12, 2016.

Shabbo applies lipstick at Sheroes' Hangout on June 12, 2016.

Shabbo applies lipstick at Sheroes' Hangout on June 12, 2016.

Rupa accepts a bite from Dolly at Sheroes' Hangout on June 12, 2016.

Rupa accepts a bite from Dolly at Sheroes' Hangout on June 12, 2016.

Dolly practices dance moves to a music video at Sheroes' Hangout on June 12, 2016.

Dolly practices dance moves to a music video at Sheroes' Hangout on June 12, 2016.

Shabbo reads a book at Sheroes' Hangout on June 12, 2016.

Shabbo reads a book at Sheroes' Hangout on June 12, 2016.

Sheroes' Hangout in Agra, India

Sheroes' Hangout in Agra, India