An acid attack victim in India who hit the headlines earlier this year when her father threw acid on her after she reported him to the police for his sex trafficking crimes, bravely shows her scars after two complex surgeries.
Khushboo Devi, now 21, from a small village in Uttar Pradesh, northern India, had endured two painful surgeries so far to help heal the devastating scars on her face.
Even though several doctors initially refused to treat her, she was finally accepted at King George’s Medical University hospital, in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, last month, where she spent five days.
Her sight is difficult in her left eye and she can’t use her right arm but she is trying to be determined that surgery will help.
Khushboo said: ‘After the attack I couldn’t see from one eye and my arm was frozen. It wouldn’t move. When I first went to the doctors around my village, nobody even wanted to touch me. They just prescribed medicines. But the scars appeared and my eye and arm would not heal.
‘Eventually we were referred to a hospital in Lucknow. I can partially see from the affected eye now but one of my nostrils is still closed.’
Khushboo is due to see her doctor again next month to discuss surgery on her facial scars. ‘They’ve suggested taking skin from my thigh and fix it on my face, so I think this is what they’ll do in my next surgery. But they say they cannot guarantee any successes.’
Since Khushboo was attacked with acid on April 30, this year, she has struggled to accept her new face.
She revealed: ‘I feel very sad when I see myself in the mirror. I’m not pretty any more. My father ruined it all for me. He ruined something that gives people the first impression of ne and I know that my first impression is now scary.’
Khushboo’s father Manik Chandra, 40, attacked her with acid after she reported him to the police for sex trafficking young girls in their home, something she had witnessed all her life.
‘He married young girls and then sold them to different men,’ she remembered. ‘He’d often abuse and hit my mother and send her away and would bring other women home while she was away. My mum often reported him to the police but the police never took her complaint seriously. He tried to sell me but thankfully I escaped. But the final straw came when he sold my 16-year-old sister to a 30-year-old man. That’s when I decided to go to the police. I had to help my family.’
Once her father came to know of her actions he started threatening her but she refused to be scared and stood firm.
She added: ‘He often threatened to destroy me and my family but I wasn’t going to let him win. I thought they were empty threats and would not do nothing as I’m still his daughter but how wrong I was.’
‘I could never imagine he could do anything like this.’
Khushboo was asleep with her husband Vinod Kumar, 26, and three-year-old daughter Trisha when Manik knocked on the front door and called her name at 3am on April 30.
‘I woke up to him calling my name,’ she said. ‘I went towards the door and as soon as I opened the door, he threw acid on me. My entire body shook with the shock of the pain. I cannot even express the pain I felt. I just remember screaming and fell on floor. My husband came to my rescue and that’s when he was also affected by it.’
Husband Vinod, who works as a plumber and earns Rs10, 000 (£ 100) a month, never left her side.
‘My husband was and is my biggest strength,’ she said. ‘He has been there through thick and thin. I cannot imagine my life without him. He found the doctor to treat me and he is using his savings to pay for it. And he hasn’t gone back to work yet because he’s helping me. He takes care of me and our daughter. I worry about the money but he assures me he will get the best treatment for me.’
Kushboo had her 21st Birthday on August 15th, but she did not celebrate it. It was no grand occasion, as she cannot bear to feel happiness or see people to be happy yet.
Manik Chandra is still in jail but Khushboo fears for her life if he is released on bail any time soon.
‘I know he’d kill me this time,’ she said. ‘I have sent him to jail and exposed all his secrets. I fear what he’ll do next because he is a cruel man. I have not seen him since the attack and I do not wish to see him. I only wish the worst for him.
‘I feel disgusted to even call him my father.’
‘I used to be a pretty girl, people always said I was pretty but people stare at me like I’m a monster now. People look at me in disgust, people know I am his daughter. I can fight with the scars on my body but not the pain he has caused to my soul.’