Shirin Juwaley

posted Sep 18, 2011, 7:03 AM by Hanif Kanjer   [ updated Oct 7, 2011, 5:21 AM ]

Shirin Juwaley, an acid attack survivor, talks to management students at Rustomjee Business School.

15 September 2011

Rustomjee Business School welcomed Shirin Juwaley, an acid attack survivor, for a talk on normative beauty.  Shirin has founded the Palash Foundation, and she is currently researching on normative ideas of beauty and how they can socially exclude people who are visually different (people affected with burns, skin diseases, physical impairment, a birth deformity).

Shirin says, “Social exclusion is more painful than the physical pain inflicted on an acid attack victim or a burn victim.  It is important for society to not paint them as evil reincarnate.”  She spoke of how we are conditioned subconsciously into believing that ugly is evil; right from the stories we tell our children, “Cinderella’s step-sisters were wicked and ugly”, or “the ugly duckling who has no friends until it turns into a beautiful swan”, to Bollywood stereotype of the villain always portrayed as ugly looking.  We need to challenge notions of beauty and someone who is visually different needn’t be feared.

Hanif Kanjer, dean of Rustomjee Business School says, “It is important for students to learn about inclusive growth, and shatter subconscious biases.  There is a lot of scope for organizations to undertake such initiatives as a part of their corporate social responsibility initiatives.  In fact, subsequent to this talk, the students are working on a project to identify which organizations/products/brands should be taking up this cause.”

Nikunj Goradia, PG12 student, who was instrumental in inviting Shirn Juwaley to campus talks about his friend’s brother who was ostracized by society when he suffered burn injuries whilst saving some of the members of his society from a fire in the building. He says, “This is not how a hero needs to be treated. My friend has marks over his body saving a few people, and now the same people shun him because he looks visually different because of his burns.”

Shirin is an inspiring speaker, with no bitterness towards the man who threw acid on her. Her talk at Rustomjee Business School was indeed inspiring, and the whole student community stands in support of her cause.  We encourage more schools and colleges to invite Shirin to spread the awareness.