Laxmi Agarwal, was only 15 when her jilted lover had thrown acid on her and she had to bear the brunt of a monstrous attack. The motive of the attacker was vengeance for her refusal to marry him. She was burning alive on the road in excruciating pain and was screaming for help on the road. When the accident took place, she was in a state of shock. The only question that kept arising in her mind was “why me?” For two and a half months she refused to look at herself in the mirror, she failed to have the spirit to face what she had been through. Her heart and mind were filled with feelings of self -hatred and shame.
People around her especially women would call her names and taunted her. They faulted her for this heinous crime and questioned her upbringing which would leave her and her family tormented. She was scarred for her entire life and was traumatized that she had contemplated suicide. But thinking of the pain that she would cause to her parents, she decided to end such thoughts. Her attacker assumed that he would leave her trapped within the four walls of her house but little did he know that he had ruined her face not her dreams.
Change was afoot for Laxmi, she refused to be enslaved by the injustice caused to her, with her family’s support she bounced back powerfully. She had filed a Public interest litigation in the supreme court that dealt with acid attack crimes and also petitioned for the ban of the sale of acid which led to the court ordering central and state governments to curb the regulation of acid. After four years of trial her attacker was put behind the bars. Laxmi Agarwal was presented with the International Women of courage award by Michelle Obama, she was also given the International Women Empowerment Award from the Ministry of Women and Child Development, she has challenged the stereotypes and prejudices of the beauty community and has helped over 400 acid attack survivors with her NGO.
Putting myself in her shoes, at such a young age seeing your life colliding and having no control over is horrifying. Face is the first part of the body which is directly associated to your identity. It would have felt like someone has taken away my identity for the rest of my life. The look on my face would change how people would perceive me and that would have impacted me mentally as the psychological pain cannot be measured. Women like Laxmi are an epitome of courage and resilience going through a life changing event still led her to having a strong ground beneath her. She did not let anyone else decide what her life could be and took charge over it herself. Laxmi encourages people to fight against wrongful acts and stand up for themselves. She is undoubtedly an inspiration for not only acid attack survivors but also for every person who has faced injustice in their lives.