Thirty-six-year-old Haseena Hussain, who fought a long battle after being attacked with acid, has called upon all acid attack victims to be independent and not be bogged down in life.
"Every acid attack survivor should be independent and be employed. They should not lose their confidence and get bogged down by the incident. Because if our hope dies, it will be their (attackers) victory.”
"I did not give up after the acid attack which robbed me off my eyesight. I continued my studies and also got a job," said Haseena, a native of Bangalore, who works in a government office now.
She was one of the several acid attack survivors who assembled on Saturday in New Delhi to create a national network that will help victims like them.
Survivors of acid attacks from around 20 states came together to get their voices heard on a national platform.
"I don't think a punishment of 15 years is enough to heal our wounds as we have been scarred for life. The perpetrators should be given life imprisonment till death. They also need to realise how it feels when you throw acid on somebody," said Haseena who was attacked by her boss in 1999 after she rejected his marriage proposal.
Her scarred face and body showed the extreme brutality of the attack.
Another victim, Chanchal from Bihar has also not given up on life as she prepares to enrol herself in a college.
She was attacked by four of her village men with acid and now her perpetrators roam around scot-free.
"We lodged a police complaint. They went to jail but now they roam around in front of my eyes," she said.
For Delhi girl Sapna, it was one of her relatives who scarred a portion of her face with acid.
"My sister-in-law's brother who is 10 years older than me wanted to marry me. He threw acid on me when I rejected his proposal. This happened last year," said Sapna who is still under medication.
Some of the lawyers who accompanied the victims said justice for such victims of acid attack becomes difficult because of their complete dependence on medication and financial limitations which deter them from pursuing their case.
"It is difficult for acid attack survivors to pursue a case because of their medical dependence, their inaccessibility to courts, police and lawyers. Also, they suffer from low confidence because of their physical deformity," said Sheela Ramanathan who fought for Haseena in the court.
Ramanathan said that the victims have to be strong enough to fight for justice.
"The acid attack victims are strong women. They have now realised that they need to be confident enough. I feel more education and awareness level will change the whole thing," she said.
The three-day event has been organised by the Human Rights Law Network in collaboration with other organisations.