India’s Acid Attack Survivors is a documentary spanning five years in the lives of three young women as they struggle and persevere with life-altering injuries. Centred around the Sheroes Hangout cafe in Agra, the film follows Ritu, Dolly and Anshu as they overcome trauma and prejudice to inspire and help other survivors like themselves.
The cafe, run by Chhanv Foundation, employs acid attack survivors, and first opened its doors to the public in 2014 in Agra. Anshu Rajput was 15 when she was attacked in her sleep by a 55-year-old man who had been sexually harassing her. She travelled to Agra in 2015 to join Sheroes cafe, sharing a home with Ritu and Dolly. “When I’m spending time with the girls, I feel great. But when I’m alone I feel the pain. I think that if I wasn’t attacked, I wouldn’t be staying with strangers. But now I think they’re slowly becoming my family,” Anshu said. Five years later, she feels very much part of the Sheroes family and their support network of fellow survivors.
She now works for Chhanv Foundation’s outreach team, visiting and assisting acid attack survivors, and offering the same support that changed her life. “Today I’ve changed so much, I have so many dreams that I don’t think I can fulfil, because every day I wake up with a new dream in my eyes,” says Anshu, as she returns from visiting a 10-year-old survivor.
In March 2020, Anshu’s attacker was sentenced to life imprisonment.
Filmmakers: Jihan Hafiz and Mithun Pramanik
Producers: Reed Lindsay, Khadija Moheb Lobo, Allwyn Lobo, Ala Alhussan
Translator: Sarah Hazel
Editors: Andrew Phillips, Anakha Arikara
Executive Producer: Andrew Phillips
Produced by Belly of the Beast Films