5 Acid Attack Survivors Find Their Independence Running This Beautiful Cafe In Agra

5 Acid Attack Survivors Find Their Independence Running This Beautiful Cafe In Agra

Tucked between trinket shops in North India’s Agra is a beautiful cafe that stands for independence, grit, and the strength of the human spirit. Sheroes Hangout, an initiative by Alok Dixit’s NGO Stop Acid Attacks, is a cafe run purely by five acid attack survivors. Apart from serving delicious food and beverages, this cafe boasts of a an ever-growing library for avid readers to browse, and acts as an open space for activism workshops as well, that aims to equip girls with practical skills such as reading, writing, social media and computer usage, and so forth to empower them in the real world.

Additionally, Sheroes acts as a platform for handicrafts and exhibitions, and organizes gatherings such as poetry and book readings, design exhibits, and so on. Rupa, one of the acid attack survivors, displays her beautiful designer clothes line at Sheroes as well. So, besides serving coffee, this cafe empowers women, curates and supports different arts, aims to break the stigma surrounding acid attack survivors, and gives Chanchal, Ritu, Rupa, Neetu and Geeta a chance to rebuild their lives. And, to add to the beautiful spirit of this cafe, their concept allows customers to pay whatever they like.  

Amazingindiablog

“The new wave feminism evolves at the Hangout through critical issues that cripple women and devoid them of equal opportunities. The irony is such issues are abundant in South-Asian cultures, and it is this irony that pushed our Sheroes to set this Hangout here, in the city that boasts of the monument of love.”

- Sheroes Hangout official website.

This venture was made possible initially through crowd-funding, and it now aims to set up similar cafes in Delhi, Kanpur and Ludhiana. The walls of this edgy, beautiful space are plastered with graffiti and paintings that symbolize feminism and women empowerment -- perfectly capturing the spirit of this endeavour.

Across India, acid attack survivors have risen above the crime committed against them with the help of NGOs like Stop Acid Attacks and the Acid Survivors Foundation of India (ASFI). While government support in the past has been minimum, with acid attacks being recognized as a separate crime by the Indian Penal Code only as late as 2013, recent events in Delhi have pointed to some relief for these survivors.

Support from various sources, such as Rahul Saharan’s calendar, Sarah Thomas’s documentary Scarred, as well as various steps taken by Alok Dixit of SAA, have contributed phenomenally in breaking the social stigma in the past. And Sheroes Hangout is another large step in the direction of empowerment.

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