Neela, Acid Survivors Charity (ASC), Socio Health And Rehabilitation Programme (SHARP), Sirajgonj.
Neela was married in 2006 aged 14. There was no dowry payment involved. She went to live with her in laws but while she was there overheard her husband saying to his parents that marrying her was a bad decision as he received no dowry payment. She overheard the decision that her husband would traffic her to Saudi Arabia where he worked. When confronting her husband he threw acid over her face and body. She had six months of treatment, still managed to pass her exams and was then brought to ASN to receive support. She now lives with her family in Siraganj. Her husband was arrested and given the death penalty in early 2009. However, he was imprisoned for just one year and now walks free.
‘I am Neela.
I think being a girl, the best thing is nowadays girls’ position in society has improved a lot and we can do many things. At the same time, the worst thing is because it is a male dominated society, even though women have advanced a lot, they are still oppressed and neglected. Side by side, the message I want to convey, as a girl, is that I want for girls to change their minds and go ahead. In my life, I want to continue my studies and graduate. After graduation I want to have a good job.
My name is Neela. I am ActionAid’.
The Acid Survivors Network was formed in 2006 in Sirajganj, Bangladesh to help the victims of Acid Violence. Acid attacks are a form of violent assault, often linked to ‘honour’ in parts of Asia. Acid is readily available and used in the garments trade in areas of Bangladesh where acid violence is inherently more rife. Poor women are usually the victims of these domestic attacks perpetrated as revenge for refusal of marriage, sexual advances, dowry payment or land disputes. The ASN not only helps with the physical challenges such as legal aid and medical assistance, but also assists with the psychological challenges that arise from fear of prejudice and stigma in the community. Victims are provided with a safe place to stay, develop life skills, attend group counselling sessions and actively campaign to enforce acid laws and build awareness. ActionAid is assisting the ASN through its partner organisation SHARP (‘Socio Health and Rehabilitation Programmes).
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