Heinous crimes against women and children are increasing at an alarming rate globally. Rapes, gang rapes, molestation, and stalking taking place at rampant, but nothing is being done excepting big talks and significant convictions.
In a country like India, the women who survive the acid attacks are forced to live their lives as unwanted and untouchables. Like a ray of sunshine after several years of dense black cloud, Laxmi Agarwal in India received massive applause at the Speaker’s Fest organized by FICCI Ladies Organization in Jaipur by singing the famous lines “Nam gum jayega, chehara yeh badal jayega, meri awaz hi pehchan hi hai…” from Bollywood movie ‘Kinara.’
Life has been full of struggle, throwing challenges for existence every moment. She had arrived a long way since the year 2005 when she was devastated mentally and physically and was terrified to look into the mirror. The Indian legal system is progressing at a glacial pace. Hence, whenever an acid attacker is charged, it takes approximately ten years for a conviction.
Who is Laxmi Agarwal?
Laxmi is known as a fighter who inspires many women as a motivational speaker. She has dedicated her life to acid attack victims and fighting for their rights. Recently, she had initiated a hunger strike along with other victims demanding immediate justice and rehabilitation for victims of acid attacks. She has turned into an inspiration for many.
According to Laxmi, this became possible after meeting so many girls who also faced an acid attack like her and gave the strength to fight for them. She has penned a poem on her plight.
Today, Laxmi Agarwal has become a household name mainly because of the Bollywood film ‘Chhapaak’ by Meghna Gulzar. On average, people in this country, show up to a severe cause or issue mostly when it is made into a film, show real. Whether film based on the life of Kamla or Priyadarshini Mattu, even Arushi, they tend to relate with their plight in an effective way when they see their favorite actors portraying the victims on celluloid.
Laxmi Agarwal – Early Life
‘Chhapaak’ drawing full houses is based on the life of 15-year-old Laxmi Agarwal, who had first hit the headlines in 2005 when the entire country was shocked to know how she became a victim of acid attack after turning down the marriage proposal by 32-year-old Nadeem Khan.
Born on June 1, 1990, Laxmi, like any other normal girl, had the ambition to become a singer and was attracted to reality shows like ‘Indian Idol’ or ‘Sa Re Ga Ma’ on television, but for that, she needed proper ‘Talim’ (training). In a city like Delhi, where everything comes with a price, she needed money to learn singing. She took up a job at a book store in Delhi’s Khan Market. Little did she know what was in store for her. She remembers receiving an SMS from Nadeem sending her marriage proposal.
Laxmi recalls, on that fateful morning, she saw Nadeem, his brother, and his girlfriend waiting outside her house with a bottle of beer and glass. As soon as she had turned towards the bus stop, the girl pushed her on the ground and threw acid on her face. The incident had taken place near Tughlak Road, New Delhi. Three criminals were sentenced to jail for 10 years.
Laxmi Agarwal – Life Phases
In 2006, Laxmi filed PIL seeking a new law or an amendment to the existing IPC (criminal law), CrPC, and the Indian Evidence Act. Apart from demanding compensation, she demanded a total ban on selling acid in the open market, which was one of the main reasons for the increase in cases of acid attacks.
In 2013, the Apex court restricted the sale of acid. As per the new ruling, acid could not be sold to anybody under the age of 18-years and also would have to furnish a photo identity card. However, nothing has changed, and even today, we hear cases of acid attacks.
In an interview, Laxmi had lamented that in spite of the restrictions imposed by the Apex court, acid is sold across the counter and can be purchased easily. She cited the case of policewomen who was attacked by her jilted lover in the Mathura district of Uttar Pradesh.
In an interview with a popular television news channel, she expressed hope that films like Chhapaak will help to spread the message of ‘Stop Sale Acid’ among the masses. She had also thanked her father, who has been a great source of inspiration in her life, especially when she was struggling to survive. It was during this time she recalls her neighbors making faces and passes over her looks.
Some even suggested her family members give her an injection, which will kill her as what she would do with such looks. While others commented, it would have been better if the goons would spare the face and threw acid on other parts of her instead.
Laxmi and social activist Alok Dixit had been into a live-in relationship till 2015. They are now separated. According to Laxmi, Alok decided not to marry and continue as live-in.
Laxmi Agarwal – Achievements
Laxmi was conferred with the International Women Empowerment Award from the Ministry of Women and Child Development and Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation. She was felicitated by Unicef for her ‘Stop Sale Acid’ campaign by the UNICEF.
In 2014, then US First Lady Michelle Obama conferred the International Women of Courage Award on her for her relentless work for the rehabilitation of acid attack victims.
Apart from that, she was among the motivational speakers at the Speaker’s Fest organized by FICCI Ladies Organization in Jaipur, Rajasthan. Laxmi regards the film ‘Chapaak’ on her life as no less than recognition and has expressed her excitement over Deepika Padukone playing her in reel-life.
Laxmi Agarwal – Success Story
Laxmi, along with fighting for her dreams, consistently inspiring millions of women. Laxmi’s endeavor to bring new life to the dead soul is the ray of hope for the similar sufferers who are now trying to live normal lives. People have started accepting the acid attack survivors’ conditions and giving them a supporting hand for seeing the world with a fresh perspective.
Laxmi has served as the former director of Chhanv Foundation, an NGO that works for rehabilitation of acid attack survivors in India. Apart from that, she has received many recognitions from various organizations.
What Makes Laxmi Agarwal – The SuperHer?
Personalities like Laxmi invokes inner thoughts inside us as if our society is deliberate enough to stand together firmly against crimes like rape, acid attack and brutal murder of innocent women.
The original question that surpasses all other catechism is why poor girls like Laxmi, Rupa, and many more should have to face such plight? Why should goons like Nadeem and his accomplices be allowed to come out as they are habitual criminals? Why is the humankind so much in peace with the harmful patriarchy dishonoring women as a whole?
The society needs to change its outlook and allow their daughters to express their views without fear. Perhaps Laxmi would not have met this fate had she could gather the courage to tell her parents about Nadeem when he was stalking and making her life hell. Finally, to tame the errant, the need of the hour is stringent punishment that will infuse fear factor among criminals.
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