My Husband Changed My Life Forever
By: Shirin Juwaley

Hello! My name is Shirin Juwaley, 27 yrs of age, and I am an acid attack victim!

I got married on Valentines Day in 1998 with a lot of dreams and aspirations. My marriage though- was a disaster. My husband and I did not get along and we were just not meant to be. One day he invited his relatives and mine and insulted and abused me in front of the whole family. He was telling our bedroom
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stories to his relatives! Ashamed and insulted I left for my mom's house. I did not want my life to be a compromise and I asked for divorce. My husband agreed for divorce but for a price! He demanded 1 lakh (2250USD) of rupees. Since I could not afford such a big amount I refused to pay him. This irked him and on 28th May 1998 he cruelly threw acid on my face and flew abroad.

I was coming from work when this incident happened. I was climbing the stairs to my Mom's house at 8:45pm when suddenly my husband loomed out from the stairs and in a second he threw the crude liquid on my face and ran down the stairs. My face suddenly felt tight and it was fuming all over. The smoke that was emanating from my faces made me suffocate. I screamed for help but my screams were muffled by the closed doors. Fearing the acid would eat up my face I ran to my house, which thankfully was on the first floor and rang the bell. My Mother opened the door and she went in a state of shock to see her beautiful daughter's face getting swallowed by acid fumes. I simply pushed her aside and ran to the bathroom and sat under the running water tap. By that time people from the whole building were gathered in my house and I was quickly hospitalized.

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The days in the hospital were the worst days of my life. In the beginning, I was actually glad that I was burned because I felt that the society would accept me now. When I left my husband's house and was staying with my Mother I was ridiculed and looked down as a characterless girl. I was always talked about when I passed and condemned for leaving my husband's house. Losing a face probably made the society less harsh towards me.

I had received 3rd degree burns on my face, right hand and chest which amounted to 15%. My features got totally destroyed but miraculously my eyes got saved. It was difficult for my own close friends to recognize me. My eyelids had shortened as a result of which I could not close my eyes. This made it very difficult for me to sleep and every night sitting on my bed I would wait for dawn.

Burn patients have to undergo dressings by doctors' everyday so that the wounds should not get infected. Undergoing dressings everyday was very painful. The doctors had to literary swab away fluids from the wounds. OoH! That was very, very painful. I would often hear screams of other patients in the Operation Room besides mine. But we had to undergo this pain everyday for survival. I was hospitalized for two months and it has been an experience I can never forget and would never want anyone to go through.

Getting back home and adjusting to your life was a different story
altogether. I was no longer a good-looking person. I was normal but with a very badly burned face. Adults and kids would get scared and run away looking at me. That really hurt. I could not go down in my own building for a walk or just to get some fresh air 'cause I did not want the kids to run away. I felt very sad that people moved away from me. I mean I was the same person they would talk to a few months back, fine I had changed; I did not have a face anymore! I was reduced to an exhibit. I hated to be exhibited! Relatives, neighbors, people, would come to see me from far and wide with their "sympathies". I locked myself at home and would refuse to see anybody or even go out of the house. For two years I sat home, watched TV, ate and put on a lot of weight. I realized I was wasting my life for some people who don't like the way I look. Why should I care for such people? They must not be sparing one good thought for me. I took hold of my life with the help of my Mom (who pampers me like a queen) and my friends and I started going out, meeting people, joined some courses and I realized that people were not really that bad. Yes, there were obstacles, there still are but one has to stand up for one's rights. You have to make people accept you the way you are. And believe me I have found so many wonderful people who see beyond your exterior.

I've undergone multiple surgeries and by God's grace and by the prayers and donations of all my well wishers I look much better now and can sleep peacefully.

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