What happens when obsession over a woman’s appearance becomes a reason to incite a violent act against her? Violence against women is a constant in many countries, especially in India. Women in India are discriminated on and so many of them have been physically attacked or lost their lives over patriarchal ideologies stemming from their beliefs. One of the most horrific ways women have been targeted in India is by acid attacks. Acid attacks are perpetrated on women who have either spurned a man’s attentions or a result of the perception that they have dishonored their family in some way.
One woman who is making a difference in the lives of acid attack survivors is Ria Sharma, a former fashion student who is the founder of Make Love Not Scars. Sharma had heard of these attacks but was unprepared for what she saw at a government hospital treating acid attack survivors. She had initially thought of doing a documentary to tell the stories of these women, but decided that she needed to do more.
Her confrontation with victims of acid attacks inspired her to launch India’s first rehabilitation center in March 2014 called Make Love Not Scars. This organization makes it possible for survivors to have access to medical, psychological, legal, and financial help even when they aren’t certain they need it. In addition, sleeping quarters are provided for women who come to the center from out of town. A law in 2013 by the Indian Supreme Court regulated that shopkeepers have a license to sell acid and for customers to show ID for it. Yet it is unbelievable that customers can still purchase it for less than a dollar.
Launching Make Love Not Scars was far from easy because Sharma encountered roadblocks due to her young age and her gender. Her efforts were not taken seriously, but she persevered and founded her organization. It is her commitment to make sure victims of acid attacks are cared for, not ostracized.
Most of western society is obsessed with women’s physical appearance. From billboards to magazines, a woman’s external appearance becomes a measure of how much attention, unwanted or not, she receives from men. For Indian women, unwanted attention is half the battle; it is the repercussions of a violent act toward them that leave indelible marks.
Sharma’s dedication to help these women is inspiring. As a woman, I have encountered my share of unwanted attention. As a Mom of an almost adult woman, I think about my daughter who may face the same attention one day and how it will be received if it isn’t mutual. I can’t imagine the trauma and lasting psychological impact of a violent attack such as what these women have endured. It is my hope that Sharma’s organization is only the beginning of raising awareness and decreasing, if not eliminating any means of obtaining acid to attack women.
Tes Silverman was born in Manila, Philippines and has been a New Yorker for over 30 years. Moving from the Philippines to New York opened the doors to the possibility of a life of writing and travel. Before starting a family, she traveled to Iceland, Portugal, Belgium, and France, all the while writing about the people she met through her adventures. After starting a family, she became a freelance writer for publications such as Newsday’s Parents & Children and various local newspapers. Fifteen years ago, she created her blog, The Pinay Perspective. PinayPerspective.com is designed to provide women of all ages and nationalities the space to discuss the similarities and differences on how we view life and the world around us. As a result of her blog, she has written for BlogHer.com and has been invited to attend and blog about the Social Good Summit and Mom+Social Good. In addition, she is a World Voice Editor for World Moms Network and was Managing Editor for a local grass roots activism group, ATLI(Action Together Long Island). Currently residing in Virginia Beach, VA with her husband, fourteen year-old Morkie and a three year old Lab Mix, she continues to write stories of women and children who make an impact in their communities and provide them a place to vocalize their passions.
Watching a storm brew from my balcony…my house was hit by lightning 30 min later!
Greek summer has always been a challenge for me, even though most of my friends and relatives think I’m insane. People from all over the world spend small fortunes on heading to the land which created the first Olympic Games and has countless beaches, monuments and fascinating historical sites to visit. So when I confess that Greek summer is usually a nightmare for me they are shocked.
My main issue is the overwhelming heat. The temperature is usually between 35°C and 42°C (around 95 and 108°F). That’s just too much for me to handle during the day and it means that at night the house is uncomfortably hot. It’s so difficult to sleep and at least one of us can usually be found prowling around in the early hours of the morning trying to find a cool spot. Unfortunately, the best of these spots is directly in front of the fridge…that means that my family nearly always gains weight during the summer period! September always heralds the arrival of requests for gym membership and low fat meals.
Another issue that most parents have in Greece is the incredibly long school break. High school finishes the regular curriculum in the middle of May and resumes again around the 10th of September. When the teaching programme finishes in May the students go to school for a couple of hours in the morning several days a week to do their end of year exams. The exam period lasts five weeks. That means that parents of children in Greece have the pleasure of seeing their offspring for four whole months. There are no regular lessons, unless the parents can afford to send their child to summer school or pay for private tuition. My children went to a private school this year so I thank the Lord that they were busy until the middle of July! Having time to drink a leisurely coffee in the morning and catch up on e-mails without being hounded by your permanently hungry teen, should NEVER be taken for granted!
Private schools and tuition brings me on to my next summer difficulty: being able to save enough money during the eight months I work a year to cover the extra expenses we have during the long vacation. My teens have virtually all day free apart from a couple of hours they spend studying, revising and training for judo. Not a day passes without them asking, pleading or sometimes blackmailing me to give them money to go to the town and meet their friends! That means that I rarely go out, as I simply can’t afford it.
Most of my summer is spent at home trying to escape the gruelling temperatures. Thank heavens I have many online friends to ‘hang out’ with, otherwise the four months would never end! My teens also want to go to summer camp with their friends, so that’s another expense which makes it difficult to make ends meet. I really celebrate when September arrives and my kids only have time to go out on Saturdays! I also start working again at this time of year so things tend to get better in the fall.
So that’s the heat, the long school break, and the expense of a summer in Greece covered, but then there is also the weather…
Summer storms in the mainland area of Greece where I live are frequent and unpredictable. Last summer as I was gathering clothes from the washing line, a sheep was struck dead by lightening very close to where I was standing! It was a terrifying experience, for us both I imagine, and as a result I am very stressed this year every time I hear a thunderclap.
Our house was hit AGAIN this year and on another occasion shortly after that the electricity column next to my house was also ‘attacked’ during one of our frequent summer storms. The whole area was left without power for several days which meant cooking and cooling systems had to be abandoned. I gave away a lot of frozen food to friends in the town as the lack of fridge/freezer was the biggest nightmare. No cool spot at all during the blackout! My modem was also blown to smithereens and I don’t even want to recall the pain of being offline for several days!
Ok, so now that I told you how I really feel about summer in Greece, I will end it on some positives. Here’s goes…I can say that I enjoy having lots of time to catch up with my online friends and reading as many books as I like. This year I have also spent real quality time with my two sons who actually want to hang out with me. My 15-year old decided to stay at home while his brother went camping with friends. This was a total surprise as he just wanted to spend time reading books and chilling out with me. He hasn’t wanted to do that for several years! My 16 year old formally invited me to watch judo during the Olympic Games and actually insisted on me being with him so that we could bet on who we thought would win each match…I’m not sure whether I should be flattered by the invitation or worried that I have produced a gambler!
At least this year my two teens think I’m cool enough to hang out with in public (on the front balcony) and to participate in underage gambling (watching judo) in the privacy of our home….
How do you deal with a long summer vacation? What activities are your children involved in?
This is an original post for World Moms Network written by Ann Maria in Greece.
Having lived in 4 different countries, Ann Marie finds it difficult to give a short answer about where she's from. She regards herself: Brit by birth, Aussie by nature, with a sprinkling of Greek and German based on her insatiable appetite for tasty food and chilled beer!
This World Mom has been married to her Greek soulmate for 16 years and they are the proud but constantly challenged parents of two overactive teenage boys. (She secretly wonders sometimes if she was given the wrong babies when she left the maternity clinic.) She can't explain the fascination and ability that her 13 and 14 year-olds show in math and physics or that both boys are ranked 1st and 2nd nationally in judo. Ann Marie can only conclude that those years of breastfeeding, eating home cooked meals and home tutoring really DO make a difference in academic and physical performance! The family is keeping its fingers crossed that---with the awful economic crash in Greece---continued excellence in math and/or judo will lead to university scholarships...
In addition to writing, enjoying a good glass of wine and movies, Ann Marie also works as a teacher and tends their small, free-range farm in the Greek countryside.