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Work Soothes Pain of Acid Attacks In India


FILE - Acid attack survivor Rupa, 22, arranges some of her creations displayed at "Sheroes Hangout" café, managed by five acid attack survivors in Agra, India, Nov. 25, 2014.

FILE - Acid attack survivor Rupa, 22, arranges some of her creations displayed at "Sheroes Hangout" café, managed by five acid attack survivors in Agra, India, Nov. 25, 2014.


A café in India is hiring women who once stayed in hiding after being attacked with acid.

One woman, Dolly Kumari, says she stayed inside for two years after a man threw acid on her. He was upset that she was not interested in having a romance.

But now, Kumari works at a café in Agra, called Sheroes Hangout.

The café helps women like Kumari get comfortable in public again.

After working in the café and serving customers, she no longer covers her face.

She says “I have so much courage, I can say anything to anyone.”

A group in New Delhi called Stop Acid Attacks started the café a year ago after women like Kumari had trouble finding jobs.

Alok Dixit is the founder of the group. He says the isolation the women feel after the attack might be worse than the physical injury.

He wants to change the perception that a person is less valuable based on their appearance.

Now that Kumari is back in public, she says she thinks about a career in fashion design.

Another woman who works in the café was attacked by her father as a child. She did not go to school or play with other children because of her appearance.

She says her life now is so much better because of the café.

There could be 1,000 acid attacks per year in India, but there are no official statistics. That is because access to acid is not very well regulated. Stop Acid Attacks says most of the women who are attacked are in their 20s. And many are attacked by men who are angry for some reason.

Dixit says he plans to open more cafes around the country to continue the work of Stop Acid Attacks.

“We want to redefine beauty,” he says.

I’m Dan Friedell.

Anjana Pasricha wrote this story for VOANews.com. Dan Friedell adapted it for Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.

Do you think a social program like this would work where you live? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.

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Words in This Story

acid – n. a chemical that can cause burns if it comes in contact with skin

perception– n. the way you think about or understand someone or something

isolation – n. the state of being in a place or situation that is separate from others : the condition of being isolated

hangout – v. a place where a person spends a lot of time

romance – n. an exciting and usually short relationship between lovers

acid – n. a chemical that burns when it comes in contact with skin

cafe – n. a small restaurant where you can get simple meals and drinks

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