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Lela Edgar
Girls & Women

An India Court Just Offered Jobs to Acid Attack Victims & Trans Women to Set an Example

In India, it can be difficult to be different.

Some of the most discriminated-against people in society include women who have been viciously attacked with acid — in an all-too-common form of gender violence — and transgender individuals. The deep-seated social discrimination can affect their abilities to get jobs, earn a living, and find housing.

But this week, officials at the high court of Delhi took an important public step toward offering inclusion to these women, offering clerical jobs at the court to five acid attack survivors and one transgender woman.

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According to the India Times, Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal offered the individuals jobs after interacting with them in court.

“This is the first of its kind when such a decision has been taken. All the six, who joined today, have been given clerical jobs as per their qualification,” a court official said.

The job offers were part of a “path-breaking initiative” the court hopes will spread to other institutions that can also demonstrate inclusivity and non-discrimination by offering jobs and livelihoods to those who often face discrimination in society.

Acid attacks are a brutal form of gender-based violence in India, where there are an estimated 200 to 300 attacks per year, according to Stop Acid Attacks. The attacks leave women with scarred and disfigured faces, along with mounting medical costs of treating the acid burns. There are no specific laws against acid attacks in India.

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Read More: This Indian Woman Was Attacked with Acid for the 5th Time

One of the acid-attack victims involved in the program, identified as Matma in an interview with Voice of America, said she never expected to get a job or face the world after her husband attacked her with acid, leaving her arms and face scarred.

“(Mittal) realized that we were in pain and subjected to gross injustice, by offering this employment she has put a soothing balm on our limbs,” she told VOA.

Babli, a trans woman who told VOA she was discriminated against as a child and shunned by society, is now at work helping others visiting the court and, for the first time, feels accepted.

Read More: Meet Lela Edgar, a Photographer Who Helps Tell Acid Attack Survivors' Stories

“Now people invite me to sit with them and eat. Before, no one even cared to share a seat with me in a bus,” she said.

Sanjeev Jain, from the Delhi Legal Services Authority, told VOA that the program is an attempt to help these individuals become part of society, an idea that he hopes will spread to other government institutions in the future.

“The whole idea is to rehabilitate them, to raise their self esteem, to make them viable in the society,” he said.