Sheroes, found just a short distance from the Taj Mahal, in Agra, is known not only for its great coffee and snacks, but also for the women that serve it.
According to their website the cafe is for women “who have fought back for life and survival through heinous chemical burns and are now, on a course to define themselves as ‘fighters’. Courageous fighters who walk with scars”.
It is a readers cafe, activism workshop, exhibition space and community radio hub started as a crowd funding initiative in 2013 by Stop Acid Attacks.
“I was exhilarated the first time a group of Indian tourists who visited the café told me how much they appreciate my courage,” Rupa, a 22-year-old survivor of acid violence, told Mashable. Rupa, along with four other women, runs the café.
“Our visitors are mostly people from around the world who hear about us in the news,” says 20-year-old Chanchal Kumari, another survivor running the cafe. Kumari was attacked by a man whose marriage proposal she refused in 2012. “They come here to see how acid attack survivors like us are coping with our lives.”
Acid attacks are an horrendous reality in India. The National Crime Records Bureau, a government organisation that recently started recording acid violence, estimates more than 1000 such crimes are committed around the country every year.