LIVING WITH THE ATTACKER
Geeta Mahour, 47, lives with her daughter Neetu, 28, and her husband Inderajeet, 60, who, 25 years ago, disfigured his wife and his daughter with the acid. The attack occurred in 1992, during the night, while they were at Geeta’s mother’s home, and it killed little Krishna, about a year old, blinding Neetu and scarring permanently her mother. Following the attack, the two women spent about 15 months at the hospital.
Inderajeet assaulted his wife and daughter for the resentment arising from his desire for a son and his wife's’ reproaches, due to his dissolute life made of alcohol and gambling.
But during his detention in jail, Inderajeet wrote a letter to Geeta, apologizing for what he did. She felt the pressure of society, in a country where is extremely difficult for a divorced and disfigured woman, with a disabled daughter, to reintegrate herself into the public life, and where people hate the victim more than the culprit. Therefore, she had no options and she decided to forgive him three months after his arrest.
Geeta now lives with her daughter Neetu, her husband and her youngest daughter Poonam, 20, born after the attack, in a small house which was rebuilt in 2016 with a special State compensation, designated for helping victims of domestic violence.
Neetu was blinded during the attack, so in April 2017, thanks to a fundraising organized by the Stop Acid Attack NGO, she was operated tho her right eye in a hospital in Chennai and her sister Poonam assisted her after surgery, while their parents stayed at home waiting for them.
This forced cohabitation continues, but even now they face with Indrajeet’s problems with gambling and drinking, with a permanent domestic violence and with his incapacity to provide for his family, so that Geeta and Neetu totally provide for the economic maintenance. The two women in fact, work as activists at the Sheroes Hangout Café, the first restaurant in the world run by women disfigured by acid. Thanks to their salary they are economically independent enough to support the whole family.
Today, Neetu is not angry with his father. She has forgiven him, she never asked her mother why they are still together and she can hardly remember anything about that day. On the other hand, Inderajeet remembers that day whenever he looks at his daughter, and he will regret this forever.
This project wants to describe in detail the history of Geeta, Neetu and Inderageet. A family shocked, about 24 years ago, by a tragic acid attack made by Inderageet, father and husband, against his wife and his daughter Neetu.
The intent of this reportage is to sped as much time as possible with the members of this family, to describe the daily habits and to try to understand the real and deepest motivations behind the forgiveness of Geeta after such a violent attack, and the consequences of a daily life with their attacker.
The family lives in Agra, India, and it's one of the rare cases in which victims, after charging the attacker, chose to live together.
I first met Geeta and Neetu in October, 2015 while I was working on my project about Sheroes Hangout Cafè, which is the first cafè in the world run by acid attack survivors.
In november 2016 I started to document the daily life of this family, who lives in a very tiny house composed by a single room, that is at the same time the main living room and the bedroom for all the members of the family.
My intent is to follow also Neetu, the daughter become blind after the attack, in her slow healing process through several eye surgery operations, which will partially give her the sight back.
I think it could be interesting to develop also this part of the story, Inderageet's life, the attacker. It's nowadays composed by gambling, alcool and an occasional job as trumpet player during hindu wedding ceremonies.
The interesting part in Geeta and Inderageet's relationship, is that she provides to the economic sustenance of the family, and she also manage the money balance, opposite to indian traditions.
I would like to organize this project spending time with this family once a year, for the next 5 years, to be sure to give a detailed and wide perspective of their history.