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Acid Attacks on Women

Acid Attacks On Women – A Burning Hell – By Irma Abbasi

Irma Abbasi
Freelance Writer

Images Credit:
International Business Times
NDTV
Hindustan Times
India TV
ANI

Stop Acid Attacks On Women
خواتین پر تیزابی حملے بند کرو
महिलाओं पर एसिड अटैक रोकें

Acid Attacks on Women in India
“Melt Hate, Not Faces: Unite Against Acid Attacks!”
“Break the Chain, Quench the Pain: Say No to Acid Violence!”
“Transform Lives, Not Faces: Join the Movement to End Acid Attacks.”

Warning: This post contain images that may be disturbing to some viewers.


Introduction:
Acid attacks on women in India have emerged as a heinous and deeply disturbing form of violence, leaving indelible scars both physically and emotionally. Despite efforts to address this issue, the prevalence of acid attacks continues to cast a dark shadow over the lives of countless women across the country. An acid attack, also called acid throwing, vitriol attack, or vitriolage, is a form of violent assault involving the act of throwing acid or a similarly corrosive substance onto the body of another “with the intention to disfigure, maim, torture, or kill”. Perpetrators of these attacks throw corrosive liquids at their victims, usually at their faces, burning them, and damaging skin tissue, often exposing and sometimes dissolving the bones. Acid attacks can lead to permanent, partial, or complete blindness.
Acid attacks have been defined as a form of violence, in which acid or another corrosive substance is
thrown at a person – usually, a woman or a girl – with the intention of maiming, torturing, or killing
them(Action Aid, 2020). Women make up 80% of acid attack victims making these types of attacks highly gendered and deeply rooted in misogyny. Acid attacks are prevalent all around the world, however, research has shown that occurrences are most notably in South Asia.

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“From Acid to Advocacy: Be the Change, End the Pain.”Acid attack survivor Laxmi Agarwal stands by women in distress

The Human Rights Law Network estimates that there were 1000 acid attack cases per year in India,
however, only around 250 cases are reported. This article tries to analyze why the law and order of the
country failed to tackle acid attacks on women in India.
Acid attacks on women in India represent a sinister manifestation of gender-based violence, a complex
issue interwoven with societal, cultural, and legal challenges. In delving deeper into the reasons behind
these attacks, examining their impacts, and exploring preventive measures, we can better understand the multifaceted nature of this pervasive problem. This article explores the various facets of acid attacks in India, shedding light on the root causes, the aftermath, and the measures being taken to combat this gruesome crime. According to India’s National Crime Records Bureau data, there were more than 1,000 acid attack cases reported in the country between 2017 and 2021. The numbers fell from 249 attacks and 67 attempted attacks in 2019 to 176 attacks but 73 attempted attacks in 2021. But Vikas Scott, an activist and project manager at Make Love Not Scars, said that the real number was likely higher. “We see that on an average at least 200-300 cases are reported for acid attacks [per year], but the real figure is above 1,000 annually.”

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“Illuminate Lives, Not Burns: Shine a Light Against Acid Violence.”
“Beauty Shouldn’t Burn: Stand Up, Speak Out, Stop Acid Attacks!”Laxmi Acid
Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone with Laxmi.

In India, 80 percent of the acid attacks target women, and independent agencies estimate that 60 percent go unreported, as many women are embarrassed and afraid to speak out against perpetrators – who in most cases are close to the victims. Survivors are also unlikely to pursue legal action due to pressure from family members. But when women such as Meena Khatoon gather the courage and demand accountability from their attackers, they are often failed by the system. Thirty-five-year-old Khatoon was attacked with acid by her husband and in-laws in 2011. A court had found her husband guilty and sentenced him to eight years in prison. But after only a year and a half in jail he was bailed out and has been free ever since. Today, Khatoon’s husband has moved on with his life, while for her every day remains a struggle. “I have no hope from the government,” she told FairPlanet. “The man who ruined my life is roaming freely. How can I lead a normal life?” One strong spurt of hot liquid on her face from a steel mug and a terrible burning sensation — that is all Nirupama remembers from an otherwise regular day in 2013. The acid attack melted her left ear and disfigured her face permanently, causing both physical and psychological scarring. What followed were 10 surgeries with more to come, innumerable hospital visits, and many rounds of the courts, which continue to this day. But the perpetrator, the stalker whom she identified as her former teacher, was released after a short three-month stint in jail. The acid that scarred her for life can still be freely and cheaply bought from the shelves of neighbourhood shops in her village of Kamargaon in Assam’s Darrang district. This is the story of most acid attack victims in India since the first recorded incident came to light in 1982. The National Crime Records Bureau’s (NCRB) data reveals that there has been no let up in the number of this gender-based crime — in 2011, there were 83 acid attacks; in 2021, it grew to 176 (albeit down from 249 in 2019).

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“Love, Not Acid: Empower, Educate, Eradicate.”
“Douse the Flames of Hate: Join Hands to Extinguish Acid Attacks.”

West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh consistently record the highest numbers of acid attacks, generally
accounting for nearly 50% of all cases in the country year on year. In 2021, 153 men were charge sheeted. Merely seven have been convicted. Many activists say the lack of cohesive legislation in regulating the sale of acids, and in ensuring punishment for perpetrators, is probably the chief reason for their misuse.
They give the example of Bangladesh, where acid attacks came down drastically after the government
brought in two laws dedicated to the control and prevention of this crime. The Bangladesh Acid Control
Act, 2002 and the first and second Acid Crime Prevention Acts, 2002 restrict the import and sale of acid in open markets. Once known as a country with the highest number of recorded acid attacks (496 in 2002), the number dropped to 70 in 10 years after the laws came into being, according to the non-profit Acid Survivors Trust International.

Stop acid attacks, Supreme Court tells government

Root Causes of Acid Attacks:
In India, deeply entrenched patriarchal norms perpetuate gender inequality, often leading to violent
reactions when women challenge traditional roles. Acid attacks can be triggered by perceived defiance,
rejection of advances, or resistance to oppressive societal norms. A study examining Indian news reports, which depict the motivation of attacks, suggests that 35% of these occurrences were a result of revenge on women for rejecting romantic, sexual, or marriage proposals. A study by the Nalanda University in 2019 showed that in the majority of cases, acid attack victims are women who have desisted persistent declarations of “love” or proposals of marriage. Many acid attacks are borne out of failed romantic relationships or instances of unrequited love. The assailants, often unable to cope with rejection or betrayal, resort to acid as a means of revenge and control. Societal ignorance and a lack of awareness about the devastating consequences of acid attacks contribute to their persistence. Education and awareness programs are crucial for dispelling myths, challenging stereotypes, and fostering empathy. Another primary causes of acid attack cases is the easily availability of acids in the market. People can easily procure it without much effort on their part from pharmacies, open-air markets, goldsmith shops, automobile repair shops, etc. Many people also use it as a common cleaning agent in their homes. Thus, it is easily obtainable. Apart from this, it is inexpensive also within the reach of common men. The unrestricted availability of corrosive acids for everyday purposes facilitates their misuse as weapons. Implementing stricter controls on the sale and distribution of acid is essential to curb this menace. Despite having laws to punish the offenders and putting regulations on acid selling, India fails to tackle acid attacks on women. Lack of severe punishment, loopholes in the existing laws, corrupt law enforcement, and legal justice system, persisting misogyny and sexism, and toxic culture enforcing male masculinity are some of the main reasons why India has not been successful to prevent acid attacks.Govt plans multiple benefits for India's acid-attack victims

Impact of Acid Attack:
Acid attacks result in severe physical trauma, causing burns, disfigurement, and, in some cases, blindness. Survivors often require multiple surgeries, enduring excruciating pain and long periods of rehabilitation. Beyond the physical scars, survivors grapple with profound psychological trauma, experiencing anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The emotional toll can hinder their ability to reintegrate into society. The effects of acid attack on the skin include blindness and permanent scars. It is immediate and often devastating. But scars aren’t just physical, and violence of this kind, and the consequent disfigurement, also causes psychological scars that manifest in the forms of PTSD, loss of self-identity, and more. Acid attack survivors often face societal stigma, discrimination, and isolation. The visible scars make it challenging for them to find employment, secure relationships, or lead a normal life, exacerbating their sense of vulnerability. The aftermath of acid attacks imposes significant economic burdens on survivors. High medical expenses, coupled with limited employment opportunities, create financial hardships, perpetuating a cycle of disadvantage. Acid attack survivors face life-long ordeals and more often than not don’t receive justice.

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“Paint the Future, Not Faces: Articulate Change, Condemn Acid Attacks!”acid attacks what india should learn from bangladesh

Many cases are not reported, especially when the perpetrators are from influential backgrounds or related to the victims. Sometimes perpetrators of acid attacks do not disappear after the crime, they stalk and intimidate their victims long after the attack. Victims from marginalized communities or living in rural or remote areas are often not aware of their rights. They don’t have access to the proper medical and legal support and are often denied legal and medical justice. Government health centers or hospitals in remote areas are not equipped to deal with severe burn injuries of acid-attack victims. As a result, they do not receive immediate medical attention and suffer irreversible physical damage, disfiguration, blindness, or death. Expensive reconstructive surgeries and lifelong treatment needed by many survivors are not covered by the Government. The legal process is very slow in India. The average time for legal action to be completed is around 5-10 years. High levels of corruption within law enforcement and justice systems make it really challenging to receive justice.Acid Attack Survivor Laxmi Now Turns Mother

Preventive Measures:

Strengthening the legal framework is crucial. Stricter penalties for perpetrators, swift justice, and witness protection measures can act as deterrents. Additionally, effective implementation of existing laws is imperative for combating impunity. Comprehensive education programs targeting schools, communities, and law enforcement agencies can contribute to changing societal attitudes. Emphasizing gender equality, consent, and respect in educational curricula can foster a culture of empathy and understanding.

India needs to begin to dismantle and change ideas at a cultural level. Many of these attacks have
demonstrated that misogyny and sexism are at the core of this violent crime. Therefore, prevention lies
in changing ideas at a young age. Education is a crucial tool for changing ideas over time, it teaches both
boys and girls to respect each other as equals. It also encourages girls to be able to achieve the same as
boys can. The normalization of women in high positions such as leadership can help shift ideas at a cultural level and provide a safer future for women. Changing toxic male masculinity and misogyny needs a shift of culture and mindset. Controlling the sale of acid and enforcing regulations on its purchase can minimize its accessibility as a potential weapon. Retailers should be required to maintain detailed records of acid sales, and penalties for non-compliance should be strictly enforced.

“Douse the Flames of Hate: Join Hands to Extinguish Acid Attacks.”
“A World Without Burns: Ignite Change, Extinguish Acid Violence.”
“Turn the Tide: No More Acid Horrors, Only Healing Hopes.”
In December last year, a 17-year-old girl was attacked with acid by two men on a motorbike in broad
daylight in the capital. Since the attack, activists across the country are demanding a stricter ban on over the-counter sales of acid. In 2020, Shaheen Malik, an acid attack survivor and activist filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Delhi High Court seeking a blanket ban on the sale of chemicals such as acid. “We want acid to be banned completely at least at retail shops, so that such crimes are stopped. A notice has been issued regarding the same but the government keeps asking for more time and nothing
important comes out of it,” Malik told FairPlanet. Malik runs the Brave Souls Foundation, an NGO that
offers legal advice and rehabilitation for survivors of acid attacks in New Delhi. Adequate rehabilitation services, including medical treatment, counseling, and vocational training, are essential for survivors. NGOs and support groups play a crucial role in providing a network of emotional and practical support.
Engaging communities in the prevention of acid attacks is essential. Community leaders, religious
institutions, and local influencers can play pivotal roles in promoting awareness and challenging harmful norms. In response to the rising incidents of acid attacks, the Indian government has enacted laws to address this menace. The Criminal Law Amendment Act in 2013 introduced stringent provisions, including higher penalties and compensation for victims. However, challenges persist in implementing and enforcing these laws effectively. Delayed justice, a lack of witness protection, and societal stigmatization often hinder the legal process.

Conclusion:
Addressing acid attacks on women in India necessitates a holistic approach that transcends legal measures alone. By unraveling the complexities of the root causes, acknowledging the profound impacts on survivors, and implementing multifaceted preventive strategies, India can move towards a future where women are safeguarded from the horrific consequences of acid attacks. It requires collective efforts from society, government, and civil organizations to foster a culture of respect, equality, and zero tolerance for gender-based violence. The issue of acid attacks on women in India is a grave concern that demands urgent attention from all quarters of society. Efforts to combat this form of violence must include a comprehensive approach that addresses the root causes, strengthens the legal framework, and fosters a culture of respect and gender equality. By dismantling the patriarchal mindset and implementing effective measures, India can work towards creating a safer environment for women, free from the specter of acid attacks. Civil society, NGOs, and activists in India have been at the forefront of the battle against acid attacks. Various campaigns and initiatives aim to raise awareness, eliminate the stigma surrounding survivors, and provide support for their rehabilitation. Additionally, efforts to regulate the sale of acid and improve victim protection mechanisms are gaining momentum.

Irma Abbasi Freelance Writer Images Credit: International Business Times NDTV Hindustan Times India TV ANI Stop Acid Attacks On Women خواتین پر تیزابی حملے بند کرو महिलाओं पर एसिड अटैक रोकें Acid Attacks on Women in India “Melt Hate, Not Faces: Unite Against Acid Attacks!” “Break the Chain, Quench the Pain: Say No to Acid Violence!” “Transform Lives, Not Faces: Join the Movement to End Acid Attacks.” Warning: This post contain images that may be disturbing to some viewers. Introduction: Acid attacks on women in India have emerged as a heinous and deeply disturbing form of violence, leaving indelible scars both physically and emotionally. Despite efforts to address this issue, the prevalence of acid attacks continues to cast a dark shadow over the lives
Acid Attacks On Women – A Burning Hell – By Fariha Khan

Fariha Khan
Freelance Writer

Asian Human
Rights Commission

Stop Acid Attacks on Women
خواتین پر تیزابی حملے بند کرو
महिलाओं पर एसिड अटैक रोकें

      Acid Attacks on Women in Pakistan

Warning: This post contain images that may be disturbing to some viewers.

Growing acid attacks in Pakistan

Acid crimes, alongside “honor” killings, are the most violent forms of gender-based violence present in Pakistan today. A UN report defines acid violence as any act of assault which uses acid. It recommends defining the crime in legislation using the mode of assault rather than the motivations behind it. Acid attacks may result in the death of its victims. At the very least, they result in “severe pain, permanent disfigurement, subsequent infections, and often blindness in one or both eyes along with a great deal of psychological trauma and economic hardship.

Acid is a highly corrosive substance. It melts through skin and bone resulting in extreme physical and mental torture. The perpetrators usually deliberately target the face “in order to maim, disfigure and blind”. If acid is not washed away immediately, it continues penetrating and “may even cause skeletal damage and organ failure”. Superficial burns are caused by contact with acid in only 5 short seconds while full thickness burns take a mere 30 seconds. Superficial burns cause more agony than deeper burns because in deeper burns the acid destroys nerve cells. Immediately after the attack, victims are also at risk of breathing failure because of inhaled acid fumes or a swelling of the neck which can close off the airway. Those who survive the attack are severely scarred and, in the months to come, have to deal with the risk of infections, such as septicemia or gangrene. Infections prevent burns from healing and can spread to healthy parts of the body, increasing the chances of subsequent death.
Acid attack victim Masqood
After emergency treatment, those who survive require immediate surgery because if dead skin
is not removed in time, new skin has the potential to cause further deformity. Dead skin must
also be removed from around the neck and arm pits to aid movement after an attack. Burn
wounds can take anywhere from 3-12 months to heal. Staged surgeries and physical therapy
is essential to “ensure that scarred tissue remains elastic and does not harm other parts of the
body”. Surgery may also be needed to remove scar tissue from covering the nostrils and ear
canals. Physical therapy is required to reduce the “lack of movement from scarring”. In the
meantime, survivors face daily “discomforts such as skin tightening and severe itching”,  and
may have difficulty eating and drinking. More surgeries are needed after the burns have healed
to restore the appearance of the survivor. These surgeries may need to be carried out over 2-3
years. Medical treatment can be very expensive, and is, often, unaffordable or unavailable.
The psychological effects of acid attacks can be traumatic and long-lasting; some victims may
live with their psychological symptoms their entire life because they are reminded of their trauma by their scars and disabilities. The psychological effects, it can be seen, are caused not
only by the attack on the victims, but also as a result of living with the consequences of that
attack.

Acid violence: Laws must meet action - Pakistan - DAWN.COM

Additionally, in many cases, permanent blindness, damage to hearing and loss of use of hands
makes day to day routine difficult, if not impossible. Survivors face discrimination in finding
employment. Physical deformities and disabilities also result in social ostracization and loss of
independence. Survivors are often unable to continue their education. Some survivors find it
hard to appear in public with their deformities and need to be rehabilitated. Many end up staying
with their attackers out of economic dependence (often greatly enhanced due to disabilities) or
fear of losing their children as in the following case:

“I have to stay with him because of the children. If I leave, he will take them”, said Shaminara, a mother of three whose abusive husband threw acid at her during a fight nearly 3 years ago. “He says I should be grateful that he is keeping me, when I’m so scarred and disfigured”, the 34-year old said. . . .Every afternoon . . . she returns to her husband, who still beats her regularly and who was never punished for his crime. “Before I was burnt, I used to fight back, now I don’t fight back at all”, she said.

Women who were single at the time of the attack are unable to marry. In a society where many
women depend on their husbands for their economic needs, this can mean a cycle of poverty
and deprivation. Moreover, survivors who decide to register cases against their attackers often
find the justice system inadequate with the police reluctant to register cases, high legal
expenses and a time-consuming path to conviction.

Unforgiving scar: 2014, a year of horrific acid attacks - Pakistan - DAWN .COM

Throwing acid is considered worse than murder. However, unfortunately throwing acid is getting much common in Pakistan۔ Recently, a woman in Lahore was attacked with acid because she refused a proposal of marriage.

The atrocious act of attacking human beings with acid is, tragically, a common threat that women face in Pakistan. According to the Acid Survivors Trust International, 90% of acid attack victims are women, making it part of gender-based violence. Although men are also targeted by attackers, the issue affects women disproportionately and is more likely to occur in societies with pronounced gender inequality. This practice perpetuates gender inequality and reflects the poor position of women in the Pakistani society, who are at serious risk of attacks at any moment, not only from strangers but often also from their own husbands and family members.

Acid attacks were outlawed in 2011 in the Pakistani criminal justice system and the punishment for such an attack was set to life imprisonment. The sale of acid and other corrosive substances was also made illegal, in the same attempt to eliminate this form of violence. Even though these measures were implemented by the government of Pakistan, they are not effectively enforced. The attacks continue and the ease with which the chemical is available in most parts of the country is surprising. An investigation carried out by Pakistani private news channel SAMAA TV revealed that bottles of acid were freely available at a local chemical shop for a mere few hundred Rupees, even though the minimum fine for an acid attack is set to 1 million Rupees.

Removing scars - Pakistan - DAWN.COM

Frequent reasons that perpetrators cite for attacking a woman with acid include suspicions of cheating in a marriage, disputes over land ownership or general family disputes. Fathers will attack their daughters with acid for “looking at boys”,  and potential suitors will attack women for denying their marriage proposals. They are often an expression of the worst form of domestic violence, stemming from the patriarchal culture of the Pakistani society, in which women are seen as commodities and are continuously objectified. Not only that, but survivors of attacks live in fear of reporting to the police, since the rule of law in the country is weak and perpetrators often go unpunished. This may also be due to the fear of reprisal by the perpetrators.

Acid is a highly corrosive substance. It melts through skin and bone resulting in extreme
physical and mental torture. The perpetrators usually deliberately target the face “in order to
maim, disfigure and blind”. If acid is not washed away immediately, it continues penetrating
and “may even cause skeletal damage and organ failure”. Superficial burns are caused by
contact with acid in only 5 short seconds while full thickness burns take a mere 30 seconds.
Superficial burns cause more agony than deeper burns because in deeper burns the acid.

Removing scars - Pakistan - DAWN.COM

Causes
Manzoor’s attack followed a row over doing the dishes. “It was seven o’clock in the morning, and I had just finished making breakfast,” she says. “My daughter was crying so I picked her up, but her grandmother said: ‘Leave her and wash the dishes.’ I told her that I would wash them, and that we had the whole day ahead of us. After this, they started beating me. I was unconscious for four or five days. I woke up in hospital in Lahore.” While she lay unconscious, Manzoor was drenched in acid. It devoured her lower lip, neck and shoulders and left her chin fused to her chest. “My husband and I often had arguments in the house,” she said, in her hospital bed. “On that day before going to sleep he said ‘you take too much pride in your beauty’. Then in the middle of the night he threw acid on me, and ran away.

. . . violence against women is a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between men and women, which have led to domination over and discrimination against women by men and to the prevention of the full advancement of women, and that violence against women is one of the crucial social mechanisms by which women are forced into a subordinate position compared with men . . .
In some cases, gender bias may even be the personal motivating factor behind an attack rather
than just a part of the cultural background such as in the case of Najaf Sultana whose father burnt her when she was 5 because he did not want another daughter.

19-year-old Indian acid attack survivor impresses at New York runway - Culture - Images

The tremendous emphasis on women’s appearance is also responsible for acid attacks . . . By destroying women’s appearance, attackers try to bolster the political power they feel was threatened when the women rejected their proposals. The men use women’s appearance and sexuality to mark the boundaries between themselves and the women. Therefore, appearance seems to be a map of power for men and
women.

Fariha Khan Freelance Writer Asian Human Rights Commission Stop Acid Attacks on Women خواتین پر تیزابی حملے بند کرو महिलाओं पर एसिड अटैक रोकें       Acid Attacks on Women in Pakistan Warning: This post contain images that may be disturbing to some viewers. Growing acid attacks in Pakistan Acid crimes, alongside “honor” killings, are the most violent forms of gender-based violence present in Pakistan today. A UN report defines acid violence as any act of assault which uses acid. It recommends defining the crime in legislation using the mode of assault rather than the motivations behind it. Acid attacks may result in the death of its victims. At the very least, they result in “severe pain, permanent disfigurement, subsequent infections, and often

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