A transgender woman from India has finally been awarded compensation after she was attacked with acid and gang-raped two years ago.
Sonia Sheikh, a trans woman living in Hyderabad, will receive the financial relief from the government following the violent attack in 2015.
Sheikh formerly worked at dance events to earn a living, but she became dependent on her mother’s support after the attack.
Guidelines on compensating victims of acid attacks have been put in place by the government and it is expected that she will receive a minimum of Rs 3 Lakh (roughly $4,500 USD).
It is expected she will also be compensated for reconstructive surgeries, however, some of her treatment has been crowd-funded online by the NGO Make Love Not Scars which is aiming to raise Rs 10 Lakh.
Sheikh has revealed that she hopes to begin her own business using the money to support her family.
She used to be the main income before the attack but was reliant on her mother and four sisters afterwards.
“I used to be the breadwinner of the house, but for nearly two years I have been fully dependent on my family. Now, I want to support them,” she explained.
Talking about her life before the attack, Sheikh said that she could no longer be a dancer because of the damage caused by the acid.
“I used to be beautiful back then. I could dance and earn and provide for my family. I can’t do that anymore.
“But I want to start my own business now. I want to run a salon and start earning again. My family has looked after me for long. Now it’s my turn.”
Vyjayanti Vasanta Mogli, a founding member of the Telangana Hijra Intersex Transgender Samity, said that the money will help Sheikh move forwards with her life.
“She cannot go out in the sun because her skin will burn. But she cannot be sitting in the house either. She does not have the luxury to do that,” said Vyjayanti Vasanta Mogli, a corporate professional and a founder member of Telangana Hijra Intersex Transgender Samity.
She added that Although Sheikh has had three surgeries already, she will likely have to have two more before she regains more basic functions such as closing her eyelids.
“The first surgery is usually a life-saving one and not a cosmetic or reconstructive one. But even after the first operation she was not able to chew food, and could only consume liquids through a straw.
“She wasn’t able to close her eyelids. How can a person sleep without closing their eyelids? After the next two surgeries, she’s at least been able to close her eyelids, but still has problems chewing,” Vyjayanti said.