Wednesday 17th of March 2021
Author: Erberto Zani @zanierberto
“SURVIVORS” is the title of my long term documentary project about acid attack survivors around the world. The goal is put the lights on these terrible, criminal attacks. Disfigured with industrial acid by neighbours, relatives or boyfriends-husbands for economic reasons or senseless jealousies, these people are forced to survive for years at borders of society. Often they are considered guilty for their look, impure creatures to leave in the shadows. Destroying the face of a person using acid, criminals don’t want kill, they prefer erase the identity of victims by a kind of black mark to show inevitably every day to the society: is not a coincidence if many survivors, especially women, prefer kill themself.
The body of my reportage is “one portrait, one story”: with my work I try to be not only a witness for what happens in several, far, areas of our world, but also a “voice” for the victims. Every portrait describes a deep pain. Every story tells infamous violence, years of phisical and mental torments, but also a new attitude to the life, a message of hope, a shout to stop any kind of violence and the use of acid.
In some cases cars are no more hidden, but proudly exhibit as a symbol of a war against the human insanity. A message to contrast these criminal attacks and a hope for hundreds victims, women men and sometimes also child.
Until now, for this topic I worked in Bangladesh, Uganda and India, but my project will continue:
acid attacks, infact, have been reported in 38 countries of the world.
Suraya, 28 years old (Mymensigh, Bangladesh). In 2008 the violent husband asked more money and punished her using industrial acid (very cheap and easy to buy in local market).
The husband is now in prison with a lifetime sentence. Suraya, who had lost her left eye, works with the staff of Acid Survivors Foundation of Dacca. She received the “Joyeeta Award” from the government as ambassador of bravery.
Nomita, 45 years old (Dacca, Bangladesh). A fatherly aged relative of Nomita often came to Nomita’s house. After few days, he was allured to Nomita, but family members of Nomita were astonished to observe the immoral behavior of him. Following his attitude, Nomita’s family warned him for disliking behavior. Nomita was attacked with acid when she was returning from school along with her father. During the moment, her father was away 10 to12 meter distance from Nomita. But Nomita’s father identified the perpetrator. After incident she was rushed to Khulna sadar hospital. Receiving treatment from Khulna hospital, she was referred to National Orthopedic hospital Dhaka after few months. Nomita received series of surgical development during her treatment in National Orthopedic Hospital. After attack her father lodged a case. Her perpetrator was sentenced to life time imprisonment. But, She does not know the present situation of perpetrator. A management team of Baptist Mission School, Mirpur, Dhaka, met Nomita during treatment. After meeting Nomita, they had taken a decision regarding Nomita to admit in Baptist Mission School. In 1987 she passed the SSC exam, in 1990 passed HSC; finally she obtained a degree pass course in 1993. Besides her academic degree she has received different training from home and abroad.
Nabuuma, 31 years old (Kigoma, Uganda). In 2008 she refused to accept a proposal of marriage from a man: for revenge, he disfigured her face with acid.
Mohammad, 26 years old (New Delhi, India). During a night, when he was a child of 4 years old, someone attacked him with acid. He still doesn't know who was the agressor, but probably someone who had problems with Mohammad's father. Actually Mohammad works in his mechanical shop.
Phool, 50 years old (Nilakkhiya, Bangladesh). He has been attacked in the year 1991. Due to demand of dowry from her sister he has been attacked by her husband.
After taking several treatments in hospital, now he is running a grocery shop and a shop of cake.
Nalumu, 35 years old (Bukeka village, Uganda). In 2014, when she was coming back from a local market in Kampala, received an attack by an unknown man. She spended several times in the hosputal, suffering for the scars and for the damages at nerves of hands.
Amos, 50 years old (Mbarara, Uganda). When Amos was politician in his distric, discovered a system of corruption between other politicians and businessmen: ready to report it in front a court, he was attack by hired assassins near his house in the evening of 8th november 2017. After months of several surgeries and a lot suffering, Amos came back home. Criminals were imprison for twenty years, but the politician who organized the attack, disappeared.
Roopa, 26 year old (Agra, India). In 2008, during the night, she had been attacked by step mother. The reason was that the aggressor feared off that she may reveal extra marital relationship with other man. The step mother poured concentrated nitric acid on Roopa's face and run away. Nobody helped her and not benn provided any aid nearly two hours and half from the attack. She got nearly 20% acid burns on her body and till now 14 surgeries has been done. It tooks 6 years to recover her mentally, because she attempted for suicide many times. The perpetrator got punishment for one year and half. After release she attempted again to kill Roopa. Now Roopa works as waitress at Sheroes Hangout in Agra, a cafè managed by acid attack survivors.
Neetu, 31 years old (Agra, India). She was just 3 years old when the father attacked her, the mother and the youngest sister of 18 months, with acid. Neetu had lost her vision in both eyes and deep scars on her face. After two months from the aggression, Neetu's sister died at hospital for problems at head because of acid.
Actually Neetu works at Sheroes Hangout Cafè in Agra.
The criminal still lives with the family.
- ERBERTO ZANI -
Erberto Zani is a journalist and documentary photographer specializes in human rights issues.
Awarded in several international contests, his images are published on several books and dozens of magazines.