This video contains graphic content.
How is that when a woman does everything right — zealously pursues her education and joins the workforce against all odds, defies her parents to marry the man she loves, and then makes compromises so they can live a happy life — that life can still deal an irreparable blow.
All Sheela, 32, was trying to do was fashion a better life in the city of Panipat, Haryana, where she settled with her husband after leaving her home. But one evening, her boss, whose advances she rejected several times, had acid thrown on her while she was waiting for a bus to go home.
“I rejected him and he couldn’t tolerate it,” she said. “He used to say, ‘I won’t let you go so easily. It is because of this face that you are able to get a job. What if I destroy your face.'”
In this video by the Make Love Not Scars (MLNS) campaign, Sheila appears with a black cloth which covers half her face. The other side is badly scarred.
“The pain in my eyes was intolerable. I wanted to cry but knew that crying won’t solve anything. I couldn’t find a way to reduce the physical pain. I thought of ending my life I tried but I failed,” she says.
This video, posted on the fund-raising website Milaap by MLNS, is calling for contributions to help Sheila afford surgeries she needs. MLNS says she has gone through 15 surgeries, so far, but needs several more to get better.
“I need funds because I want to become the old Sheila that I used to be. I can’t sit at home for five, ten, twenty years until my life ends. It is better that I move forward,” the survivor said.
Sheila’s husband abandoned her after the acid attack. No action was taken in her case for four years because her boss because he is a powerful man in Haryana, she said.
In her recollection of this horrific instance, Sheila talks about the ferocity of the screams that exploded from inside her as the acid hit her face.
“I never knew I could scream like that. I never knew that the shrieks that were coming out of my mouth could come out of another human being. I didn’t know what hit me. I was surprised,” she said. “I could feel the burning sensation but I couldn’t feel it. It was like my senses had given up on me and the shock took over. I didn’t know what happened to me and not in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that I had just been attacked with acid.”
While official statistics for the number of acid attacks in India, MLNS says that over 1000 of these crimes are carried out against women, every year.