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Trouble for Acid Attack Victims as Sheroes Hangout Cafe is forced to shut down

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In a ruthless attempt to undo the previous government’s work, the current UP state government is taking away the land beneath the ‘Sheroes’ Hangout Cafe’. The irony of the situation is that the agency responsible for the eviction is UP Mahila Kalyan Nigam. The corporation’s monitoring committee had said that it found “no reason to run the unit”.

Café Sheroes’ Hangout is an initiative started by the Stop Acid Attacks (SAA) Campaign and the Chhanv Foundation which works to rehabilitate survivors of acid attacks and spread awareness about such atrocities against women throughout the society, which often looks down upon such individuals or views them with pity.

The reason for this is the unending fight between two organization, Uttar Pradesh Mahila Kalyan Nigam and Chhanv foundation. Chhanv foundation is an NGO that took the initiative to start this cafe.

The problem started when the UP government failed to send the salaries of the support staff on time. Ashish Shukla, director of the Chhanv foundation, highlights UP Government’s mismanagement, 

“While the government was transferring money directly into the accounts of the acid attack survivors. salaries of the support staff were often delayed because of a mismanagement of the corpus.”

Ashish Shukla

What’s even worse is that the Mahila Kalyan Nigam has now written an unfair letter to Chhanv Foundation. It mentions that there is no reason to run this cafe anymore and it should be shut down. In addition to that, the letter also addressed that women workers will be given training under the National Skill Development Corporation to earn their livelihood. 

 Sheroes Cafe in Lucknow letter

Lucknowites Fight back

Concerned citizens of Lucknow gathered at Sheroes Hangout Café on Tuesday evening to express solidarity with acid attack survivors in their fight to keep the café open. 

Acid attack survivor Anshu Rajput, who works at the café and has been spearheading the campaign to keep it open, briefed the audience. “This place may get closed within three weeks if the state government does not intervene. All our efforts to lead a life of dignity will come to an end if the café shuts down. We need your support,” she appealed to the people who had gathered there.

Another survivor, Kavita, who was attacked in 2012 resulting in damage to the entire left side of her face including an eye and a ear, said she was greatly pained at the thought of the café shutting down. “This café is our hope, as it gave us a new identity. People who came here accepted us. But the uncertainty that looms on us now is making life difficult,” she said. 

State Congress chief Raj Babbar on Monday visited the Sheroes Hangout Cafe in Gomti Nagar to express solidarity with the acid attack survivors who are fighting hard to prevent a possible shutdown of the café.

Babbar assured the acid attack survivors that he would launch a massive agitation and fight for their cause.

We will raise the issue both in New Delhi and in Lucknow (and speak up) against the insensitive action of the BJP government that is determined to take this café away from acid attack survivors, who earn a livelihood by working here.

Raj Babbar

Our Take

Everyone expects more and better for women from India. We are the world’s largest democracy but one of the most dangerous country for women. One such vulnerable section among women folks are acid attack survivors. At least, they deserve the government’s immediate attention more than anything. And, they are closing the cafe. 

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