Rekha

Rekha

Rekha (a.k.a. Rathna) is a 20-year-old young woman from Haveri near Davangere in Karnataka. She left her first husband with her daughter and got married to Vineet (name changed) in 2011. It was a love marriage which was against the wishes of her parents who worked as laborers in the village. Vineet was a taxi driver working in Bangalore when Rekha moved in with him. Their married life was fine initially, but Rekha later realized that Vineet had a drinking habit and would often come home drunk and insult and beat her. Unhappy with his drinking habit and beatings, Rekha told Vineet that she would move back to her village in Haveri. Vineet said he would never let her leave him and threatened to destroy her. She didn’t take the threat seriously then, thinking that he had said it under the influence of alcohol.On 2nd October 2013, the anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth, Rekha was sleeping with her daughter, who was just two-and-a-half years old. Vineet came in the morning at around 4.30am. Rekha did not know that he was carrying a bottle of acid from his car’s battery. He came to where Rekha was sleeping and poured a little of the fuming acid on her head. When Rekha got up in shock and pain, he poured the rest of the acid all over her. Rekha was initially treated at the district hospital in Haveri, however she could not be provided with specialised treatment and the proper care required to treat her burns. She was brought to Victoria Hospital in Bangalore on 26 February 2014 and was admitted to the burns ward at the hospital. Rekha left her daughter at her elder sister’s house in Davangere. She cannot bear the shock of seeing her mother’s disfigured face and the pain her mother has to bear every day. Rekha’s head, face, neck, hands and thighs were badly damaged in the attack. She cannot close her eyes fully and her right eye is inflamed. Her nose is partly damaged and she has difficulty breathing. Due to her injuries around her mouth and to her neck, she has difficulty eating anything solid. As is common in cases of acid attack, the skin around Rekha’s elbows and thighs has fused and she cannot extend them fully. She undergoes physiotherapy every day to help improve the movement of her hands and legs. Treatment to correct the fused skin will be done only after the open wounds on her head and face are fully healed. Thereafter, Rekha will have to undergo the prolonged and painful series of cosmetic surgeries to restore a resemblance of normalcy to her face, hands and legs.

Vineet was arrested and is currentlyin jail in Electronic City, Bangalore. His family however is putting immense pressure on Rekha to withdraw her case and change her initial statement to police to get Vineet released from jail. Rekha is extremely courageous and refuses to back down. The attack has disfigured Rekha’s face and has put her through immense pain, but it has not killed her spirit and hope. She is determined to be treated as a normal member of society and dreams of providing the best of care and education to her daughter – just as any mother would.