Stand Up and Shout Against Violence

Sonali Mukurjee

Sonali Mukurjee, before and after

If you can stare at a picture of a pretty woman then you can look at my burnt face too.

…Chilling words from the courageous Sonali Mukherjee, who recently won India’s version of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”

What’s remarkable about Sonali Mukherjee’s story is that in April 2003, she was the victim of a horrific acid attack that left her severely disfigured and partially blind. Denied justice, she pleaded with the Indian government for permission to end her life—a controversial request in a nation where euthanasia is illegal. Denied this request, she vowed to no longer be a victim, but a survivor. She made a choice to stand up and scream and shout against the heinous crime of acid violence, most common in countries, such as India, Uganda, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, where social structures remain deeply patriarchal. According to Acid Survivors Trust International, about 1500 acid attacks are reported globally each year, 80% of them against women.

After reading this hauntingly inspiring story, I asked myself:

What’s the difference between those who remain standing amidst adversity and those who fall and fail to get back up?

In the context of this story, my answer is hope, solid foundation, and strong support system.

We learn from Mukherjee that winning “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” was the best balm for her wounded existence. Her victory and the outpouring of public support gave her hope to press on.

Additional keys to withstanding the huff and puff of life are a solid foundation and strong support system. Mukhurjee’s family was instrumental towards her recovery, having spent their life savings to treat her injuries. Being part of the National Cadet Corps also gave her the courage to fight all odds, including surviving her vicious ordeal.

So why are some people more resilient than others? What lies behind the extraordinary grit of Sonali Mukhurjee, Nelson Mandela, Victor Frankl, and countless others who have survived and bounced back from distressing situations?

The Bible describes resilience as follows:

Hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed (2 Corinthians 4:8–9)

Resilience is an essential life skill. A resilient person:

  • Has a solid foundation built on godly principles
  • Has the ability to bend like a tree in the wind
  • Knows that their life has purpose even when their circumstances say otherwise.

Sonali Mukurjee is a tremendous example of resiliency. In her words: “Once everything else had failed, I decided to use my face.” Rather than hide away in shame, she is determined to valiantly rise from the ashes and seek justice for herself and other victims of acid violence. Her story should be an inspiration to all of us.

8 thoughts on “Stand Up and Shout Against Violence

  1. I got to know about Sonali a few months back when I saw an episode of Crime Patrol (An Indian TV Series based on real life stories of crime) which covered the entire ordeal faced by her. I couldn’t restrain myself from crying and it really hurt to even imagine how life must have been for her and her family. I thank you for bringing up her cause here and letting people know about her survival, struggle and suffering. I salute her for the courage she has showed and the way she fought against all odds to ‘start living’ again.
    Thank you for sharing this !!!

    • I like you have been strongly affected by Sonali’s story and that of countless other young women like her. It’s unimaginable the depth of pain she’s experienced, and the least I could do was share her story.

      Thank you for reading! Let’s keep the conversation alive.

  2. Love this post :) So very true, resilience is such a Godly character. There’s a verse from John 9:3 that reminded me of how we can display the works of God through our so-called disabilities. It also reminded me of Nick Vujiicic; God uses him to reach out to so many people!

    • Thanks for reading Harold. I was so inspired and heartbroken when I came across Sonali’s story. It’s baffling and distressing that these violent acts happen and go unpunished in the world we live in. Makes me feel powerless, we need solutions and transformative change!

  3. Pingback: Day 1 – Proverbs 1: Don’t Follow the Crowd | Uwana

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