Crime and Terrorism 15 January 2016 23 1773
Agra city’s, Café Sheroes, in India is known far beyond the country’s borders. The young women who work there all come from different backgrounds and have their own stories to tell but they have one traumatic experience in common: all have been attacked with acid. Their assailants were often driven by unrequited love. Rejecting a suitor’s advances can be dangerous for the young women of India. Acid throwing is on the rise and claiming more victims every year, almost exclusively women.
Even with a life sentence for the attacker, the damage done is irreparable and the victim’s life will never be the same again. Most survivors remain deeply scarred for life and not just physically, the emotional and mental aftermath is equally hard to heal. With disfigured faces, many feel their whole life has been stolen from them: they can be ostracized by neighbours and live with the constant fear that one day, their attacker may escape from prison. Many believe that all normal life opportunities, like a career or marriage, are now beyond their reach.
Café Sheroes comes to their rescue. Run by acid attack survivors who did manage to rebuild their lives after an unimaginably horrific ordeal, it gives them support and encouragement from people who know exactly what they’re going through. Working at the café helps young women regain a sense of control over their own destiny. It’s a community that helps them dream big and achieve their potential, in spite of the aftereffects of their terrible ordeal. As well as helping victims an important part of the café’s mission is raising awareness of the problem to bring about an end to acid throwing.
By supporting and working with each other, the Café Sheroes girls learn to appreciate their inner beauty, rather than mourning the loss of their physical appearance. This film doesn’t just tell the horrifying and disturbing story of an awful crime, but a heartwarming one too about finding strength, happiness and dignity in discovering the true meaning of beauty.