Mumbai: NGO uses acid attack victim's picture without her consent, raises Rs 11 lakh

Updated: 30 November, 2017 11:41 IST | Samiullah Khan | Mumbai

Malad man approaches police alleging that a Delhi-based NGO used his sister's photos, taken after her husband had chucked acid on her, without informing the family members

Just weeks after her husband Ruwab Shaikh flung acid on her face, Zakira Shaikh, 26, has been burned yet again - this time by an NGO claiming to help her.

Zakira Shaikh is admitted in Masina Hospital (right) Ruwab Ali Shaikh
Zakira Shaikh is admitted to Masina Hospital (right) Ruwab Ali Shaikh

Even as she undergoes treatment for 80 per cent burns at Masina hospital, Zakira's family has learnt that an NGO misused her photographs and posted them on a crowdfunding page to raise money for her treatment - without ever informing her or her family about it.

Donors contributed nearly Rs 10.8 lakh to the crowdfunding campaign, but the family is yet to see any of this money. The Delhi-based NGO that created the fundraising campaign is titled Make Love Not Scars; ironically, this experience has only hurt Zakira's family further.

Insult to injury
Zakira's husband Ruwab Shaikh threw acid on her on November 1, after weeks of arguing over her wishes to lose weight. He suspected that she was having an extra-marital affair and wanted to lose weight to please another man. The couple's two daughters also suffered minor injuries in the attack. The husband later went to the police station and surrendered himself.

Also read - Mumbai Crime: Man throws acid on wife for losing weight, suspects her of cheating

The family had approached the Acid Survivors Saahas Foundation, a Bandra-based NGO, for help. Activist Daulat Khan from the NGO helped the family get government aid for her treatment.

However, last week, Zakira's family were surprised when a few people approached them, asking them to sign on some documents, claiming to have raised funds for the treatment. On further inquiry, they learnt that the NGO Make Love Not Scars had posted Zakira's photos on Facebook and on the online fundraising platform Ketto, under a campaign titled 'Zakira Needs Your Support'.

"The NGO used pre- and post-attack photos of Zakira without her permission. There was also a letter from Masina hospital, stating that they had reached out to Make Love Not Scars for financial assistance," said Khan.

However, Zakira's brother Kasam alleged that neither the NGO nor the hospital took their consent before using her photos to raise money. He suspects that the people who had approached them for signatures were trying to fraudulently access the money themselves.

"The money raised in her name should now be given to her, but the money has been deposited in some other bank accounts. Lawful action must be taken against the culprits," Kasam said in his complaint to the Byculla police.

Cop speak
The police are yet to file an FIR in the matter. Senior Inspector Avinash Shingte said, "We have made inquiries with Masina Hospital and they said that they had approached the NGO to raise funds. As far as they know, around Rs 1 lakh was raised and deposited in a bank account under the patient's name. They claim they know nothing beyond this. We are making inquiries. If anything illegal is found, action will be taken against the culprit."

The other side
Ketto founder Varun Sheth said, "The NGO Make Love Not Scars approached us with Zakira's case and sought help for crowdfunding. After we verified her medical bills and authorisation from Masina Hospital, we ran the campaign. More details can be taken from the NGO."

Ria Sharma, from Make Love Not Scars, said, "We were approached by the hospital, and have no contact with the family. We fundraised because the hospital asked us to, as they were running out of funds to treat the victim. We donated the funds directly to the hospital. If the family has a problem they need to talk to the hospital and not malign us. We can refund the money to the donors, and the family is most welcome to fund the treatment themselves."

Dr S Abhyankar from Masina hospital, who signed the authorisation letter for the NGO, said he would not be able to comment without the hospital administration's nod.

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First Published: 27 November, 2017 08:15 IST

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