How this successful café chain run by acid attack survivors is changing lives

Written by: Maitreyee Boruah
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Bengaluru, Mar 8: To mark the occasion of the International Women's Day, acid attack survivors are all set to open the second branch of Sheroes Hangout café in Lucknow on March 8 (Tuesday).

The eatery will be run by five acid attack survivors. The café will also provide legal, medical and employment assistance to survivors of acid attack in Uttar Pradesh.

The first branch of Sheroes was opened in Agra in 2014

The first branch of Sheroes was opened in Agra in 2014.

UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav will attend the event, which will start at 5pm. A special Women's Day calendar, featuring survivors of acid attack violence, will also be unveiled during the event.

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The café is located adjacent to Lucknow Metro office, Gomtinagar.

"Sheroes café has been designed to function as a reach-out centre, where survivors will get support from the state and society. This is India's first-of-its-kind initiative in collaboration with the UP government.

The Women and Child Development department of the state is assisting more than 200 survivors in their treatment and compensation. On behalf of my fellow survivor friends, I would like to invite you all to attend the event," Laxmi Agarwal, activist and acid attack survivor, told OneIndia.

"We believe that this initiative can change the perception that a person is less valuable based on her/his appearance," Laxmi added.

The café is the brainchild of the NGO Chhanv Foundation and the team of Stop Acid Attacks (SAA) campaign.
"With the launch of our new café in Lucknow, we aim to stop acid attacks in UP. Unfortunately, the state has registered the highest number of acid attack cases (186) in 2014.


Women acid Attack survivors will run a cafe in UP.

For the past three years, since its inception as a Facebook movement on March 8, 2013,

"We started Chhanv Foundation in May, 2014, where survivors became the board of directors. Out of this journey towards rehabilitation was born Sheroes café," added Alok.

In India it's estimated that there are 1,000 such attacks per year, maybe more. Most of the victims of acid attacks are women.

"The Sheroes (she + heroes) here are women who have fought to survive after receiving a debilitating blow to their lives, appearances and self-esteem. These women are true fighters, who have the courage to live, work and walk in the midst of us all and force society to re-evaluate its norms about beauty and appearance," said Laxmi.

"Our first café in Agra has now evolved into a campaign to generate awareness about acid attack violence and help survivors lead normal lives. Several cultural groups and artists will perform at the café's official opening event. We will serve cocktails and dinner to our guests," smiles Laxmi.

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