Al Jazeera Close Up

India’s Acid Attack Survivors | Close Up

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

Special thanks to Chhanv Foundation and Sheroes Hangout