BENGALURU: It has been 15 years since that gruesome day but Shanty is yet to find solace.
Early morning on October 10, 2001, her husband walked in drunk and threw acid on her while she was fast asleep. He had been accusing her of infidelity.
Shanty had been a tailoring teacher at a private school in Piriyapatna in Mysuru. “I had self-respect when I could take care of my family with whatever I made,” she says. Her husband drank his salary away. “I used to earn `3,000 per month.”
Now she is dependant on her children. Her daughter is doing a part-time job, besides studying for a diploma. Her son works as a mechanic. Their salaries barely get them through the month.
After the accident, she tried various jobs but nothing worked. She ran an STD booth but had to shut it down. She then worked as a computer operator but it was difficult for her to sit for long hours. She tried tailoring, but even that was scuttled by her poor eyesight.
“My husband is living happily without a care for me or my children. He got away with only six years of jail time,” she says. He did not pay for any of her medical expenses. It cost them `8 lakh and they had to sell all that they had.
“I have undergone 11 surgeries so far and have not yet recovered completely. I already had a heart problem which worsened after this,” she says. She lost an eye and a ear. Her husband paid her `8,000 as compensation and the state government gave her Rs 2 lakh.
‘I’m fed up of begging for jobs! Govt must help’
Geetha, another acid attack survivor, has been abandoned by her family, friends and the government. Her son, who works for a private medical agency, is the only person taking care of her.
Geetha’s husband threw acid on her in an inebriated state in Shivamogga. “I did not even get compensation in time for my surgery. I am fed up of begging for jobs,” she says.
“My son had to drop out of school to earn a livelihood for us, which is painful,” she adds. All this while, the government has only been making empty promises about the pension that was announced three months back.
“There is no social security for survivors as people don’t approve of us. It is a challenge to be able to afford medical treatments alongside food, rent and other essentials at home,” she says in anguish.
She urges the government to announce special schemes for acid attack survivors. In 14 years since the attack, her husband has not been punished but has just filed a maintenance case, she adds.
“We have life-long medical treatment to undergo and the medicines are too costly. And we can’t ignore them. We need jobs so that we can stop being a burden on our loved ones,” she says.