Treatment delay could have cost acid victim eye

Treatment delay could have cost acid victim eye

Author Tania Singh and acid attack victim Reshma Qureshi at a interactive session organised by Prabha Kaitan Foundation at Taj West End in Bengaluruon Friday.DH Photo/Sudheesha K G

Stung in pain and shock after her brother-in-law threw acid on her face, Reshma Qureshi struggled without treatment for five hours. 

Doctors refused her treatment without an FIR. To make matters worse, her mother wiped her face with a dupatta, allowing the acid to penetrate her skin, while merely pouring room-temperature water continuously would have prevented extensive damage. 

"Had the doctors treated me in time, I wouldn't have lost an eye," Reshma said at an interactive session organised by Prabha Khaitan Foundation, The Write Circle Bengaluru chapter. 

Reshma’s story — from a burqa-clad girl in the slums of Mumbai to walking the ramps at the New York fashion show — is documented in the book 'Being Reshma' by author Tania Singh. The book captures various shades of cruelty and how tragedy changes one's attitude to life.

Despite a Supreme Court ban, Tania explained how easy it is for an attacker to stock acid and use it against women. 

"There are more acid attacks in the UK, but they're against men. In India, the reasons are different," she said. "While acid is freely available over the quota in India, it is banned in the UK." 

She continued: "In India, anyone can buy acid for Rs 40 a litre, cover their face and the number plate of their bikes, and fling it on the victim's face. They can never be traced. In the UK, acid is available only through the battery and the attacker can easily be caught," she said.

Reshma's acid attack happened when her brother-in-law Jamaluddin tried to set her sister Gulshan on fire. Jamaluddin, who demanded dowry from Gulshan’s family, teamed up with two others and flung acid on Reshma’s face to hurt the family by defacing its youngest member. Reshma was only 17 when the attack happened.