Acid attacks survivors set trend of inspirational selfemployment venture

DHAKA, An air of dismay grips the consciousloving people at the happenings of acid attacks on women and children. The consequences of brutal crime of acid attacks are often life changing, leaving the victims permanently disfigured and requiring his or her specialist treatment.

The occurrence of acid attacks and images of victims on the news and social media has left a gap in public knowledge about the rehabilitation process for survivors.

The campaign of rehabilitation for acid survivors acts as a bridge between survivors and the society, as most of the victims of this heinous crime have isolated themselves after losing their face. It brought survivors of acid attacks facetoface with a society that had been living in denial of this brutality.

When Ayesha Begum was telling her story, she did not show any anguish. She was completely at peace with the pain that life has inflicted on her. Ayesha Begum and Rahima Akhtar Dolly, two acid attack survivors, were trained in preparing readymade garment from the trainers coming from Australia in 2002 in the Acid Survivors Foundation at Mirpur.

Later, four more women Shamima Akhtar, Taslima Akter, Nargis Akhtar Ranu and Roksana Parvin became selfreliant undertaking training at the foundation. Each of them earns Taka 10,000 to 15,000 per month from the foundation.

Five women survivors are now making specialized pressure garments for hospitals providing treatment to the patients burnt by acid attacks.

Pressure garment is distinctive clothing called Laikraa, which is prepared conforming to the size of the patient's body. It can cause constant compression in the affected area simultaneously and reduces the growth of scars. Collagen fiber, which is a considerably fibrous protein in the body, make scar expandable in the burning area. Collagen is the same in consequence of coerced garment pressure. The specialized garment is made in accordance with the demand for each organ distinctly.

Pressure garments are made out of a very strong Lycra or polycotton material and are typically beige in colour. However certain pressure garment manufacturers have begun to incorporate fashion into the design of the garments they manufacture. It is important that health care professionals clothing designers and manufacturers are aware of the varied ways that clothing and fashion can affect people living with burns and scars and hopefully help them towards some kind of recovery.

The use of pressure garments is an important part of burns scar management, including the prevention and control of excess scar formation. Pressure garments aid in reducing the scar formation and the deformities that result from overscarring.

The five women, struggling for survival, have been making pressure garments by learning from the real life experience. Presently, the production of specialized apparel named special garments is going on in the Burn Units of Acid Survivors Foundation and Dhaka Medical College and Suhrawardy Medical College.

Each pressure garment is being sold ranging from Taka 800 to Taka 4,500 at Dhaka Medical College Hospital, Shahid Suhrawardy Medical College Hospital and the Acid Survivor Foundation.

Pressure garments worth around Taka 80,000 is sold every month from these three establishments.

Dr. Ferdous Wahid, manager of the Acid Survivors Foundation Hospital, said Before 2002, when there was no pressure garment factory, the use of ointment and medicines was the mainstay. Coerced garments are used suiting to the needs after the surgery in the burnt area and as a result skin does not swell. Seven doctors have been working in this 20bed hospital. Acid attacked women are being treated at free of cost with collecting fund from donors, said Wahid.

A separate room has been allotted for sale of women's pressure garments at Dhaka Medical College Burn Unit, where Roksana Parvin and Taslima Akter sell their readymade garments.

Roksana Parvin, who has been selling these materials for long, told journalists, Once I was also a patient. Of late I started working in the sector receiving training. Other patients are now using the materials made by me.

Shamima Akhter, hailed from Chakdurga village of Patnitala thana under Naogaon, had a dream of serving the Bangladesh army. She married businessman Shahidul Islam on condition that she will continue her study after marriage. But illluck would have it that her husband did not allow her to continue study after marriage. A brawl broke out between Shamima and her inlaws family members. She became a victim of acid attack while sleeping.

Shamima said, There was no treatment following the incident. Later I use to put on Ayshamanufactured pressure garment. Taking inspiration from Ayesha I started making pressure garments and earning Taka 10 thousand per month. Shamima, who now has become a selfreliant woman, has restarted her study.

Ayesha Begum of Chittagong, who engaged herself in this profession in 2002, said that she did not get support of pressure garment when she became a victim of acid attack on August 2, 2000 for denying a marriage proposal.

I have my skin slacked. Even operations were done on me 14 times.

She got married in 2006 and is currently leading a normal life with a son and a daughter. Her daughter is now a third grader while her threeyearold son accompanies her in works.

Ayesha Begum, Shamima Akhter and many other women are the real fighters, who have not let tragedy blunt their outlook on life. Giving inspiration to all these survivors is at the forefront of the campaign and has given hope to many survivors. Putting tragedy behind these acid attacks survivors have become spokespersons on behalf of Bangladesh's acid attack victims.

According to the Acid Survivors Foundation (ASF), there have been 3386 acid attacks between 1999 and 2017. From January to September 2018, the foundation recorded about 15 acid attacks.

Acid Survivors Foundation (ASF) Executive Secretary Sumaiya Nur admitted The miscreants have disfigured many women through acid attacks, but these women did not accept defeat and learnt to start life afresh.

The campaign for survivors of acid attacks is a serious effort to engage society with the victims. It is an attempt not only to provide jobs, but also to change the mindset of the people to develop a soft corner in their minds for the victims and sensitize them to the issue. People should be engaged and survivors should be brought to the mainstream. Many believe it is important for men to realize the pain of an acid victim and through the campaign women want to narrate the anguish of the victims.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)