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Apeksha Bagchi

IWB Blogger

Run By Acid-Attack Survivors, Cafe Sheroes Hangout In Lucknow On The Verge Of Shutting Down

  • IWB Post
  •  October 8, 2018

On International Women’s Day on March 8, 2016, a cafe named Sheroes Hangout was established in Lucknow. An initiative by Channv Foundation, the cafe is run by 12 acid-attack survivors and is jointly managed in partnership with Uttar Pradesh Mahila Kalyan Nigam. But this symbol of women’s empowerment, of sheer determination that helped these women to beat the odds, is today on the verge of being shut down.

Two years after it was established, the cafe has received a notice by the Uttar Pradesh Mahila Kalyan Nigam for vacating the premises by September 29th. The notice mentions that the cafe is not fulfilling its ‘purpose’ which is not explained aptly in the document. It also mentioned that in order to ensure employment of workers currently working with the café, they will be given training in association with the National Skill Development Corporation and the State Resource Centre for Women and Child.

Sheroes opened this cafe in Lucknow after tasting success with a similar venture in Agra. While Former Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav had visited the Agra outlet and extended his support by providing assistance to set up similar café in Lucknow, the current government is not that interested. However, it has paid no heed to the rehabilitation of acid attack survivors. On the contrary, it seems to have a blatant disregard for these women’s struggles. The café located in Agra, too, faced some inconvenience when the local municipal body demolished the front portion of the café during an anti-encroachment drive in Agra in July this year.

Sheroes Cafe was started with the aim to rehabilitate women and provide them with a job that matches their skills and interest. They also support acid attacks victims and provide them with treatment, legal help, counseling, and training.

If the cafe shuts down, 12 full-time workers and 8 part-time workers will be out of a job, the acid attack survivors receiving treatment will suffer, and not only this, all the women who built their lives from scratch will be forced to do it again. Now the women of Sheroes are protesting against this unjustified decision to shut down the cafe, which stands as a symbol of hope for many women. The Channv Foundation has requested the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court till October 24 to vacate the premises.

“When an organization is performing good and actively works towards social acceptance then shutting it down without any valid reason is not okay,” said Aashish Shukla, director of Chhanv Foundation. He has also appealed to CM Adityanath Yogi to take some action in the matter and questioned the government’s ability to provide financial security to the women after the cafe is closed.

“We built Sheroes through our hard work and Mahila Kalyan Nigam is ousting us from our place of livelihood,” said Anshu, an acid attack survivor and a key member of the café.

“Our right to work here is being taken away from us. If we stop working here it would be a setback for the workers who provide for their families. We have been broken down before, Sheroes proved to be a source of support for us and we don’t want to leave it,” said Farah.

H/T: Feminism In India

 

 

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