Palakkad: When Rabinisha recollects the day of September 13 she still frets…

Tears well up on her right eyes. Covering the left side of her burnt face with her saree pallu, her cheeks and eyes still shivering.

Rabinisha remembers the day when she had given food to her children and retired for the day. Her 18-year-old son was sleeping with her in one room and in the adjacent room, her husband, who rarely visits home, was with their 15-year-old son. The couple’s daughter too was present in the house.

At about 2 in the night, Rabinisha could feel a terrible heat and burning sensation on her chest and face. She woke up instantly with a loud cry. She could see her husband running out of the room. Even her daughter’s hands sustained burn injuries.

“It took time for me to realise what happened.  The man had poured acid on me and fled. By the time my neighbour and her son rushed hearing my cries, my face, hands and neck were half burnt.”

35-year-old Rabinisha was shuddering while trying to narrate the incident.

Rabinisha married Sahabudhin, who was working in a workshop in Coimbatore, when she was 17 years old.  Their life went on smoothly in the initial years of marriage but later it started to show strains. When his torture became unbearable, Rabinisha left for Palakkad along with her 3 little children. She managed her living with the income she got from stitching and her catering works.

Rabinisha did not prevent her husband from visiting her house when he came occasionally to see the children. “I will make you faceless and not show your face to the outside world. None should see your face. I will throw acid on your face,” he used to tell but she did not take these words seriously.

Rabinisha was admitted to the hospital in Thrissur for over 3 months and underwent plastic surgery twice. Even now, her damaged skin in the neck and sagging skin on face remains. Rabinisha says turning her head towards a side is still difficult.

“That man is in jail. I only pray he should not get bail. My children are in degree class, 10th and in 7th standard. If my health improves, I will go for work. I will show to him that I can live. I’m determined on that.” Rabinisha is assisted by Rahmath and her brother.

Rabinisha was given financial aid of Rs 1,35,000 from the State Nirbhaya Cell, said Adv P V Bena, who is the Social service League legal councillor of Mercy College.

One-and-half-yr-old suffer acid attack

“Life is valuable. But face is very important. I used to see my favourite face pathetically with pain sometimes.  But I am not sad and I will face life boldly.”

Alphonsa is now 18 years and she is daughter of Dhairiyaswamy and Seeliyamma. The unfortunate incident happened when Alphonsa was just one and half years old. Holding her brother’s hand and returning from church, the day was a turning point in her life.  The acid stored in a can and kept on the roadside illegally by the plantation workers accidently fell over Alphonsa and spread over the left side of her body. Alphonsa suffered 80 percent burns and the little baby cried writhing in pain due to the injuries.

That occurred in 2003. The Palakkad court slapped 2 months jail and a fine of Rs 50,000 against those for storing acid illegally on the roadside. When the case reached the High Court, the guilty were acquitted.

Alphonsa lived with the adversity of the tragedy and the scarring skin. P Premnath, secretary of Vishwas, a social group working for these victims, said that the plight of Alphonsa was brought out to the world through media.  Alphonsa was given assistance of Rs 1 lakh from the CM’s fund and other helps followed from various organisations. She underwent 8 surgeries from 2013 onwards. Even now, the injuries are not healed.

Since June, she works assisting a Photostat shop situated at civil station in Palakkad. Alphonsa said that she suffered a lot during her childhood days.  As children were scared to see my face, I studied till VII at an orphanage school. Then I continued my education at the Malampuzha government school. I did not have any friends till class X. No one used to speak to me but after I completed my 10th standard, they slowly started to befriend me.

Alphonsa’s left eye is completely burnt due to acid fall. Though she has nil sight on her left eye, her hearing too is poor on that side. But there is no change to her smile.

Kerala stands 4th in acid attacks

The National Crime Records Bureau states that the number of acid attacks in the state is alarming. During 2016-17, 26 acid attack cases were reported from the state. Kerala stands 4th  next to Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Delhi. In 2018, the number of acid attack cases were 8 in the state.