A cid attacks have been on the rise across the country and need to be tackled sensitively. For the last 14 years, Sanath Mane has been fighting for the rights of acid attack victims. He says, "This is an extremely sensitive and important issue but people are not taking it seriously. It is not just about getting the attacker behind bars, it is also about re-constructing the future of the victim."
Mane raises critical questions: How does the victim pay for the exorbitantly-priced surgeries? How will she earn a livelihood, as most people do not hire these victims? What about their marriage and future? He says, "We need to work towards making their lives normal instead of isolating them from all walks of life. The immediate problem that a victim's family faces is financial—they have to arrange money for the surgery.
Insurance companies should come up with policies, wherein they will cover the cost of cosmetic surgeries if a woman suffers an acid attack. In Europe, cosmetic surgeries are covered by insurance policies; why is it not possible for us to adopt the same here?"
Mane has written, suggesting the policy, to various cabinet ministers. He wrote the first letter in 2000 to the then Maharashtra governor, PC Alexander. He also wrote to Pratibha Patil, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, P Chidambaram, Shivraj Patil, Pranab Mukherjee and Rajnath Singh. He shares, "Out of all the letters that I wrote, only Dr APJ Abdul Kalam replied to me—he informed that the letter had been forwarded to the Ministry of Home Affairs."
"Another important aspect that we need to deal with is the easy availability of acid. This life threatening potion is available at a very low price in stores across the country. The government should set up a control board to restrict and scrutinise the selling of acid. Also, for sustainable livelihood, victims of acid attack should be provided government jobs—this will secure their future," says Mane.
It is not just about getting the attacker behind bars, it is also about re-constructing the future of the victim.