Survivors of acid attacks cry for justice in Mexico

Carmen Sanchez, who survived an acid attack by her ex-partner seven years ago when she was 30, poses for a portrait in Mexico, Sunday, May 30, 2021. Sanchez has undergone 61 surgeries and must protect her skin and right eye from the sun. When Sanchez filed a complaint against her attacker the year she was attacked in 2014, charges of “serious injuries” were not enough to arrest him. But in 2021, an investigation was reopened as an attempted femicide case, for which he was then arrested, and she is waiting to know if he will be formally accused. (AP Photo/Ginnette Riquelme)

Elisa Xolalpa has had three daughters and found a job she enjoys since a former boyfriend tried to destroy her life by tossing acid on her when she was 18. Two decades later, she is still seeking justice.

Survivors of acid attacks like Xolalpa are banding together and raising their voices in Mexico despite the country’s sky-high violence — especially toward women and staggering levels of impunity.

“I thought I was the only one,” said the 38-year-old, who grows flowers on Mexico City’s south side. “But we’re not alone anymore.”

Survivors want the attacks classified as attempted femicide, aid with the innumerable surgeries that follow, and psychological support. They want to be seen even though their faces hurt.