WASHINGTON – Laxmi started a movement in New Delhi to end acid attacks in India after she was permanently disfigured at age 16 when a friend’s brother threw acid at her when she refused his romantic advances.
After her 2005 attack,she got 27,000 signatures on a petition to curb acid sales and took her issue to the Supreme Court of India and was successful.
The State Department honors women from around the world every year who show courage and leadership – and take personal risks – in working for human rights,women’s equality and social progress.
Michelle Obama on Tuesday recognized 10 women from across the world with the International Women of Courage Awards. These include women from Afghanistan,Fiji,Georgia,Guatemala,India,Mali,Saudi Arabia,Tajikistan,Ukraine and Zimbabwe.
“I have always walked away feeling inspired by these women,determined to reflect their courage in my own life,” Obama said,calling the event a highlight of her year.
She said that that these women are creating ripples that stretch across the globe and urged everyone at the ceremony at the State Department to summon a fraction of their bravery in their own lives and community. She said that if a woman can fight torture,oppression and domestic violence,then everyone can do his or her bit.
Dr. Vanessa Kerry,Secretary of the State John Kerry’s daughter,represented him at the event. He is in Ukraine.
She expressed concern over women’s access to health care. She said that health care for women needs attention because in countries with political turmoil women often lack basic health care facilities. Kerry is the CEO of Seed Global Health,which works with other nonprofit groups to improve health care in poor countries.
Dr. Nasrin Oryakhil accepted the award on behalf of the group of 10 women and expressed her gratitude for the recognition.
Oryakhil is a doctor of gynecology and obstetrics and founded the first center for obstetric fistula repair in Afghanistan. She also is the president of a non-governmental organization that works to improve reproductive health care for women.
Even after being physically attacked by members of the Taliban,who demanded that she stop her practice and start praying,she continued.
“Empowering a woman means empowering a society and generation,” she said.
Laxmi recited a poem,which she wrote after the attack. The poem talks of the pain and surgeries that she had to undergo and how she learned to love her new face.
The honorees included women from all kinds of profession – doctors,bishops,political and human rights activists and singers.
“And that is the message I’m sharing with young people across America,urging them to commit to their education so that they,too,can write their own destiny,” she said.
Reach reporter Kritika Gadhvi at [email protected] or 202-326-9868. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire.