Out of the huts of history’s shame
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
– Maya Angelou
Perhaps the easiest way to thwart a cause is root is out, by violence so appalling, it leaves a mark both literally and figuratively. Aam Aadmi Party leader and tribal activist from Chhattisgarh, Soni Sori, was intercepted by two bike-borne men, who rubbed an acid-like substance on her face on the night of February 20. Seconds later, she was blinded by pain, her face swollen. Sori, who had been facing a threat to her life, was rushed to a hospital, before being flown in to Delhi for treatment.
Sori is recuperating from an attack that had obnoxious intentions of smothering her spirit. Instead, she emerged audacious, refusing special security cover and keeping the interests of the people of Bastar before hers. Speaking to the media, the unfazed school teacher turned political leader said she was warned of the attack, but it has made her more daring than ever and she can no longer “be stopped”.
Every time a woman dares to rise, speak, protest or challenge, there is always a section waiting to quell, scar and burn her spirit and ensure she never gets the courage to fight for any cause again. There always exist insecure individuals desperate to attack and maim her spirit and her pride. Armed with acid, they go about throwing the lethal substance whenever their dissatisfied selves face opposition. They dread the idea of a powerful woman, willing to sculpt her life and make choices of her own accord. If she refuses to kowtow, she is attacked, if she refuses anyone, she is attacked.
Laxmi was merely 15 years old when she survived an acid attack. An older man, whose advances she had rejected, decided it was his ‘moral imperative’ to teach her a lesson, and that throwing a readily-available acidic substance on her body would suffice. The ones that attack believe their acts are capable of bringing a destructive difference, but Laxmi and survivors like her, have time and again proved otherwise. Their zest for life pushes them to smile through their pains. Beneath the burns lives a human being, engulfed in flames of courage, refusing to douse their love for life. A mother to a baby girl, Laxmi today actively advocates and speaks for the rights of acid attack survivors.
Women like Soni Sori and Laxmi are an example to the society, and to those malignant elements that lurk in corners, waiting to avenge heaven-knows-what. They are neither “jilted” nor “scorned” to carry out acts so preposterous. They are vile minds that need to bear the brunt of a societal stigma. They may have scarred them, but they have been unsuccessful in killing their mettle.