On 21/10/2012, four men threw acid on Chanchal Paswan, 19 and her sister, 15 while they were asleep on their terrace. The attack was a direct result of Chanchal’s opposition to continuous sexual harassment by the men. The below video report by Video Volunteers Community Correspondent and women’s rights activist, Varsha Jawalgekar shows Chanchal and her family talking about the incident. They want their appeal for justice to go public.
Anil, Ghanshyam, Baadal and Raj had been harassing Chanchal and her family for a long time. They would follow her on the streets, in auto-rickshaws, would pass vulgar comments and sexually harass her. When she refused to give in to their demands, they threw acid on her.
The four perpetrators have been arrested by the police. Chanchal is 19 years old and an earning member of the family. Almost five months after the incident the Paswan family is still waiting for a speedy trial. They also spending money on Chanchal's medicines, instead of the state and both the sisters have got less compensation than they deserve- because the police hasn't taken her official statement under section 164 yet.
For the last four months the Paswan family has been waiting for justice, going from one court to another, Chanchal needs your support in getting speedy justice and compensation. Especially in light of the fact that after the Justice Verma Committee report and last years Delhi gang rape case, the Chief Justice of India has asked for stricter laws against women atrocities.
The video report by Video Volunteers Community Correspondent and women’s rights activist, Varsha Jawalgekar was used to launch an online petition in partnership with Change.org (DM Patna: ensure justice for Chanchal Paswan). The petition has received more than 28000 signatures from all over the world. Chanchal wishes to fight for justice and Video Volunteers along with local advocacy groups like Parivarthan Jan Andolan, Parivarthan Kendra and Change.org, amongst others will stand by her.
On the 6th of March, Chanchal and her family addressed a press conference in Patna, Bihar. The press conference, organized by VideoVolunteers, Parivarthan Jan Andolan and Change.org, was attended by over 40 journalists from print and electronic media. Here is what Chanchal had to say.
Chanchal's Current Medical Status:
1. PMCH has done a very basic skin graft, which has not healed properly.
2. Her eyes are stretched, as the grafting was not properly done. She cannot close her eyes properly.
3. On her neck, the burnt tissue has formed a mass and wound.
4. The wound on her chest are still serious and the ones on her back have not healed.
5. PMCH discharged her at the end of January 2013 hurriedly. They even misguided the family saying she will get infection in the hospital. They did this, as there was increasing pressure on them by Parivartan Jan Andolan/ Parivartan Kendra and on the police as well.
6. Chanchal’s family has been purchasing medication with their limited finances ever since the incident. On 2nd March, Varsha Jawalgekar and other activists visited PMCH and asked why the hospital was not able to provide Chanchal and her sister the medication that they had prescribed. After much discussion with local medical representatives (who take commission on sale of medication), they forced the administration to give Chanchal's parents some of the prescribed medications free of cost.
7. The family has been receiving threats from some people in the community and have been unable to resume their livelihood activities.
B. Current Status of Chanchal's case with Police and Court:
1. We have reports from reliable sources that the DIG, Weaker Sections, has given directions to the police station not to take Chanchal’s statement under Section 164.
2. Chanchal has been treated as a minor when she is a major and also treated as a non-earner when she was an earning member of her family. By misrepresenting her age and earning capacity, the state has awarded her less compensation than what she is entitled to under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act.
3. There has been no direction from the Police to the Court recommending Chanchal’s case for a speedy trial.
4. Chanchal's father, Shailesh Paswan has tried to follow up on the case in Court. The Danapur Magistrate’s Court said it has been transferred to the District Court. When he reached the District court, they said it is still with the lower court. Till date, there is no trace of Chanchal’s case file.
Immediate Intervention Required:
1. Chanchal’s statement must be recorded under Section 164, as it will ensure that the names of the accused are included in the FIR. Her previous statement was recorded just after the attack when she was in too much pain to speak clearly and name her attackers.
2. The case must be sent for swift trial.
3. Funds need to be raised for Chanchal’s treatment, plastic surgery and legal fees.
4. The Court and the State must ensure proper compensation and rehabilitation for Chanchal and her family.
Many have offered various forms of support to Chanchal’s family. But more needs to be done. It is with this in mind that we are trying to mobilise more resources for Chanchal her sister and her family. We hope you will join us in doing so.
Chanchal Passes Away
We're sad to share that Chanchal Paswan, a young girl with extraordinary courage, and an acid attack survivor, passed away today.
In October 2012, four men had attacked Chanchal and her sister with acid, while the girls were asleep on their terrace. In the following months, many of you came forward to support the two girls financially, and in their demand for justice.
Chanchal was the face of defiance in a society that treats acid attack survivors with callous disregard. She became part of a campaign that demanded that the government do more to prevent such assaults, and punish the culprits. She insisted that people do not look away.
Despite the many obstacles that came their way, Chanchal and Varsha, the correspondent who had reported her story, went on to file a Public Interest Litigation with the Supreme Court of India. The judgement resulted in acid attacks survivors being legally recognised as disabled, giving them the same rights and benefits. It also made it obligatory for private hospitals to give immediate treatment to acid victims, which Chanchal herself never got.
Chanchal underwent six surgeries and pursued a degree in Political Science while she advocated for the rights of acid attack survivors across India. The VV family is deeply saddened by her untimely demise. Our thoughts are with her family. We have all lost an indomitable spirit in the fight against acid attacks today.
Community Correspondents use many strategies to escalate an issue by increasing the scale or reach of their videos and finding ways to put pressure on government functionaries.