(This story was originally published on 15 December 2017 and recounts acid attack survivor Laxmi’s fight against a system that perpetuates stalking and harassment. It is being republished in the context of acid attack on a 17-year-old girl near Dwarka metro station in Delhi on Wednesday morning. Three persons have been arrested by the police in the crime.)
In 2005, a man whose advances Laxmi Agarwal had spurned for two and a half years, attacked her while she was on her way to her summer job, and threw acid on her face. Laxmi recalls feeling like someone had burnt her alive.
Laxmi was just 15.
When the PCR van arrived to take her to the hospital, Laxmi recalls looking down at her hands and watching her skin melt away. “I could see my skin peeling away the same way plastic does when it is put on fire,” she recalls.
As part of The Quint’s #TalkingStalking campaign, the feisty 29-year-old woman shares parts of her story with women and men all across, who have faced or are facing stalking – and advises on how to fight back:
1. It Doesn’t Matter What You Wear
When a 28-day-old baby is raped, how short or long are her clothes? What matters isn’t the length of a woman’s clothes – it’s someone’s regressive mentality.
2. He Can’t Kill Your Dreams
Laxmi recounts the entire series of events on the fateful day of 22 April 2005 when she was attacked with acid by this man and his brother’s girlfriend while on her way to her summer job.
Laxmi recalls how, when her father came to see her at the hospital and hugged her, his shirt burned right off.
“Wahi se meri journey start hui (that’s when my journey began),” she says.
3. It Is Not Your Fault
The face you see today is the result of seven operations between 2005 and 2009. So many acid attack survivors undergo 70-80 operations. Who would ever want to inflict such pain on themselves? Did I ever tell him, that if I reject you, you may come and attack me?
4. Stand Up and Fight
The Quint has launched a campaign called ‘TalkingStalking’ which aims to make stalking a non-bailable offence. This is a very good initiative and I would urge everyone of you to come forward and support it. Only if we all come together will we be able to effect change.
Camera: Athar Rather, Abhay Sharma
Editor: Kunal Mehra
Actors: Chandan, Vivek Das, Urmi Bhattacheryya