Weak Laws against Acid Attacks on Women in India – Shameful state for Women Organizations

Acid throwing also known as acid attack or vitriol age is a form of violent assault defined as the act of throwing acid or a similarly corrosive substance onto the body of another with the intention to disfigure, maim, torture, or kill.

It is mainly done by those weak persons that are not able to face the rejections in the life. They throw acid usually at victim’s faces resulting in burning them, and damaging skin tissue, often exposing and sometimes dissolving the bones. Mainly sulfuric and nitrite acids are used for this shameful act. Sometime Hydrochloric acid is also used. Reasons of doing such are much smaller than the adverse effects of this. This cause long term consequences which may include blindness, as well as permanent scarring of the face and body, along with far-reaching social, psychological, and economic difficulties.

Acid Attack

Acid throwing, also called an acid attack or vitriol age, is a form of violent assault defined as the act of throwing acid or a similarly corrosive substance onto the body of another "with the intention to disfigure, maim, torture, or kill.

It is observed that the main reasons behind this are Male honor, Rejection, Family and marriage related issues, Land disputes and Dowry related issues. These attacks usually stemmed from poor interpersonal relationships and domestic intolerance toward women. Acid attacks rarely kill the victim but it causes physical, psychological and social scarring. Some men think themselves as superior than women. So when any woman gets higher achievement than those men then those egoist men perform evil acts like rape, kidnapping and acid attack to destroy the confidence and success of the woman.

When a boy faces rejection from a girl then also in revenge they throw acid on the face of the girl. They think this rejection as a disgrace and in the revenge they destroy the whole life of that girl. Acid attacks not only destroy one’s physical beauty but it also destroys the confidence of the victim. It is known to everyone that dowry has taken a shape of a custom that every girl’s parent has to fulfill. And in the condition of not fulfilling the custom the In-laws family of girl torches her on the name of dowry and force her parents to give them dowry by hook or crook. If they do not get what they want then they throw acid on girl or sometime they also burn them so that they get relief from her and marry their son again in the rich and well settled family. Sometimes also land disputes between two parties’ results in acid attack.

Acid attacks rarely affect the family of the one who is responsible but it fully changes the life of the victim and her family. No one can understand the pain of burning, not even the family members of victim. It causes blindness, permanent scarring of the face and body, damaging skin tissue and often exposing and sometimes dissolving the bones also. It not only destroys her physical beauty but also her dreams are shattered into millions of pieces. After this she can’t even think of dreaming because a girl with scarred face is not accepted by any boy or any family also in the society. In every aspect of life, whether its girl’s fault or not she has to suffer and she has to pay for being a girl.

Laxmi Acid Attack Victim

Laxmi Acid Attack Victim

Years back Laxmi, once pretty but who now fears to venture out with her scarred face, had moved the SC to make all jilted lovers who attack girls like her with acid to pay for their crime. Her lawyer Bhatt had sought a ban on over the counter sale of acid while informing the SC that even Bangladesh had banned free sale of the corrosive substance and enacted a law treating acid attack as heinous offence.

According to me, the weak laws and easily available of corrosive and acidic substances are responsible for these accidents. SC on February 3 inserted a new section, 326A; in the Indian Penal Code making acid attacks a gender neutral offence. A person convicted under it would be punished with a minimum of 10 years imprisonment which could extend to life term and could be asked to pay up to Rs 10 lakh as fine. But neither the Central Government nor the State Governments and Union Territories have been able to handle this grave issue. The Home Ministry has asked the State governments to ban over-the-counter sale of acids as directed by the Supreme Court in its July order to curb growing incidents of attacks on women. The Ministry has asked the States to impose a fine of Rs.50, 000 on sellers who do not maintain a register on personal information about buyers. While according to me, acid should not be sold to a person below 18 years, the license holder (seller) will have to identify to his satisfaction the purchaser’s identity through a photo identity card that mentions the purchaser’s address.

The Ministry has said a compensation of at least Rs.3 lakh should be given to acid attack victims by the State government concerned as after-care and rehabilitation cost. Out of this, Rs.1 lakh shall be paid to the victim within 15 days of the incident to facilitate immediate medical attention and expenses in this regard. The balance sum should be paid as expeditiously as possible and positively within two months thereafter. Educational institutions, research laboratories, hospitals, government departments and the departments of public sector undertakings, which are required to keep and store acid and corrosive, shall maintain a register of usage of acid. All Central government hospitals and establishments have been directed to treat acid attack victims free of cost. Acid Survivors Trust International is the only organization in the world to end acid violence at the international level. ASTI also works directly with victims by providing 3 levels of service.

1) A surgical team of volunteer doctors who perform reconstructive surgeries and train other doctors;

2) A burn team to support victims after surgery and to teach victims how to treat the burns; and

3) A management team to deal with medical issues, governance and fund raising.

But with all these laws and facilities, still these misshaping are occurring. Acid is sold by retailers to people even to the child below 18.

What is the use of these laws if still these accidents are happening? What is the importance of these laws if girls are still burning with acids like hell? I think these incidents can be avoided only if Government deals with such cases strictly and give appropriate punishment to the criminals associated with such acts. Also no free treatment is provided to the victims. All these laws are just talks and are not followed by common people and not even by the persons evolved in our government.

Kundan Srivastava

Human Rights activist, Author, Columnist, Founder-CEO 'www.thevoiceraiser.com' (“India’s leading platform to raise a voice for people to fight against injustice & victimization”).

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