BENGALURU: Acid attack survivors in the state find it hard to find employment, they say, and often have to depend on their kids for support.
Two such people City Express spoke to following the Supreme Court ruling that victims have to be treated on par with the disabled said their children had to drop out of school to pay bills for their treatment.
In 2001, Shanty’s husband threw acid on her face after a bout of heavy drinking. He was asked to pay `8,000 as compensation but her treatment cost her a few lakhs. But he failed to pay even that paltry amount and the government stepped in to pay a quarter of her treatment costs in 2008. Shanty’s husband was jailed for six years. Till now, Shanty has undergone 11 surgeries. She lost an eye, a ear and suffers from severe injuries on her chest. “My parents had to sell all that they owned for the treatment,” she said. “At the government hospital, I was not given proper medical treatment. They simply put me on a glucose drip.” Her worried parents shifted her to the private hospital BGS Apollo in Mysuru, where some of her friends and an NGO called Odanadi Seva Samithi came to her rescue.
She then ran an STD booth, with some help from her friends, but had to close it down after mobile phones made landlines obsolete. Shanty works as an assistant to a tailor now, but it is not easy with her poor eyesight. Her children support her now, they had to give up their studies for it. “It is impossible to lead a happy life. What they make is not enough to run a family,” she said. She wanted the government’s help to find a job she can comfortably do.
Geetha, from Shimoga, is fed up of searching for a job. Her husband threw acid at her in 2001 and the government gave her compensation in 2004. “I begged the state government officials to at least give me an attendant’s job,” she said. Her son too dropped out of school and is working in private medical agency. “It is painful,” she said. “All I have are false promises from the government.”
Unlike Shanty, Geetha gets no help from family and friends. “I have been on my own for a long time,” she said.
She desperately needs a house to live in. “Most survivors of acid attacks are from poor families. This would really help us.” Shanty’s husband was punished but Geetha’s has gone scot-free for the past 14 years.
Dr Mahalakshmi was running a private clinic in Mysuru when Chikkabasaviah, her landlord, started harassing her with unwanted attention. She asked him to leave her alone and he threw acid on her face. “It was a crowded area but no one came to help. Only a 10-year-old boy I had treated earlier,” she said. To put Chikkabasaviah behind bars, she had to go till the High Court and he was jailed for 3 years. “It is a sadness we carry till our last breath. There is no social security and we bear the pain of their disfigurement,” she said.
“I am happy about the Supreme Court ruling,” she said. “Hopefully, the state government will implement it.” She is appreciative of the idea to provide rehabilitation. “But we should get to work in our own comfort zone.”