The Victims and Survivors Of Acid Attacks
Acid attacks, also known as acid throwing or vitriolage, is a heinous crime that has been prevalent in various parts of the world for decades. The act of throwing acid on another person’s face or body is not only a violent and painful assault but also has a devastating and life-changing impact on the victim. While acid attacks have been recorded in over 80 countries worldwide, it is particularly prevalent in countries such as India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan.
What Are Acid Attacks? Why And Where Do They Occur?
According to experts, “Vitriolage is an act of vengeful nature and a form of physical violence, resulting in severe consequences to the face and body of the victim. 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".
Let's analyze some of the statistics and data related to acid attacks worldwide, the reasons and causes behind them, the effects and consequences they have on the victims, and how we can prevent acid attacks from occurring again.
Statistics and Data:
Acid attack is not only a gender-based crime but it also targets men and women of all ages. However, it is estimated that 80% of acid attack victims are women, with young women being particularly vulnerable. According to the Acid Survivors Trust International (ASTI), there were over 1,500 reported acid attacks in 2011 globally. The majority of these attacks occurred in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the U.K., Italy, the USA, and Cambodia. In Bangladesh, there were over 3,000 cases of acid attacks between 1999 and 2015. In India, there were over 1,000 reported cases of acid attacks in 2018, with the highest number of cases reported in the state of Uttar Pradesh.
Reasons and Causes:
The reasons behind acid attacks vary from personal revenge to religious extremism, with some attacks being premeditated and others being impulsive. Many acid attacks are carried out as a form of revenge or retaliation, often related to relationship issues or disputes. Others are linked to dowry disputes, with women being attacked for refusing to pay the requested amount. Religious extremism is another reason for acid attacks, with some groups using acid as a form of punishment for women who do not conform to their beliefs or dress codes.
What Happens To A Victim of An Acid Attack?
Effects and Consequences:
The effects of an acid attack can be devastating and long-lasting. Victims are left with severe burns and disfigurement, which can result in blindness, hearing loss, and even loss of mobility. The psychological effects of an acid attack can also be severe, with many victims experiencing depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The consequences of an acid attack can be life-long, with victims struggling to reintegrate into society and facing discrimination and stigma.
Preventing acid attacks requires a multi-faceted approach, including education, legislation, and access to medical and psychological support. In countries where acid attacks are prevalent, there is a need for stricter laws and harsher penalties for perpetrators. Education is also crucial, particularly around gender bias and women’s rights, as well as the dangers and consequences of acid attacks. Access to medical and psychological support is essential for acid attack victims, to help them recover from physical and emotional trauma.
Acid attack is a devastating and life-changing crime that has a significant impact on victims and their families. It is essential to take a multi-faceted approach to prevent acid attacks from occurring again, including education, legislation, and access to medical and psychological support. While progress has been made in some countries, there is still a long way to go for all countries that still tolerate this horrific hate crime.
Cheaper cost to purchase any acid and readily available, with no laws to enforce, which makes it easier for attackers to acquire these deadly acids and use them upon whomever they wish, with no consequences to face at all. In the end, many of the attackers walked away free.
Four cases of Acid Attacks on women and the case of Hanifa Nakiryowa
Acid attack on women is a shocking offense that often results in severe physical and psychological trauma, disfigurement, and even death. Here are four examples of some of the prominent acid attacks on women:
The case of Laxmi Agarwal: In 2005, Laxmi Agarwal, an Indian woman, was attacked with acid by a man whose advances she had rejected. The acid caused severe damage to her face and left her partially blind. She underwent multiple surgeries and has since become a prominent campaigner for stricter laws against acid attacks.
The case of Fakhra Younus: Fakhra Younus was a Pakistani woman who was attacked with acid by her husband in 2000 after she left him due to domestic abuse. She suffered severe burns on her face and body, and despite undergoing extensive reconstructive surgeries with support from Tehmina Durrani a human rights activist, Fakhra took her own life in 2012, reportedly due to not getting any justice after the attack and due to the trauma and ongoing physical pain caused by the assault.
The case of Reshma Qureshi: Reshma Qureshi, an Indian teenager, was attacked with acid in 2014 by her brother-in-law, who was reportedly jealous of her beauty, while some have stated the acid was meant for her sister. The attack left her with severe burns on her face and she lost an eye. However, she has since become a prominent campaigner against acid attacks and has even walked the runway at New York Fashion Week.
The case of Naomi Oni: Naomi Oni, a British woman, was attacked with acid in 2012 by her former school friend disguised in a veil. The attack of jealousy left her with severe burns on her face, chest, and arms. Her attacker was one of her best friends and was later sentenced to 12 years in prison.
The case of Hanifa Nakiryowa:
Hanifa Nakiryowa was attacked with acid in 2011 in Uganda by her ex-husband. The attack was apparently carried out in retaliation for her leaving the marriage and seeking a divorce. The acid caused severe burns on her face, neck, and chest, and she lost an eye as a result. However, she has since undergone multiple surgeries and has become a prominent campaigner against acid attacks, founding a charity called the Center for Rehabilitation of Survivors of Acid and Burns Violence (CERESAV) to help other survivors of acid attacks.
Examples of publicly available cases of acid attack victims in Pakistan that have been reported in the past
Bushra Waiz: Also known as Shazia Aziz, was a Pakistani actress and singer who was attacked by a local TV producer when she refused to marry him in 2013. Despite suffering serious injuries, Bushra continued to speak out against this act of criminal violence and advocated for greater support for victims.
Kanwal Qayyum: Kanwal Qayyum, a Pakistani girl was attacked with acid by a friend in 2011 who was jealous of her career. She suffered burns to her face and lost her eyesight as a result of the attack. Despite the challenges she faced, Kanwal Kayum went on to become an advocate for other acid attack survivors.
It's important to note that these are just a few examples of the many cases of acid attacks that have occurred around the world over the years. The actual number of cases is likely much higher, as many victims may not report their attacks due to fear of reprisals or lack of support from authorities.
Pakistan and India have one of the highest rates of acid attacks in the world, with thousands of cases reported in the past decade. Victims of acid attacks in India and Pakistan are often women who have been attacked by men, usually as a form of revenge for rejecting a marriage proposal or for perceived disobedience. Acid attacks are a devastating form of violence that can cause severe physical, psychological, and emotional damage. Victims often require extensive medical treatment and may face long-term social and economic challenges as a result of their injuries. Despite efforts to address the issue, acid attacks continue to occur in these countries, emphasizing the urgent need for mass education on this problem and greater protection and support for the victims.
How can acid attacks on people be avoided? What steps can be taken to make it difficult for people to easily access deadly acids by implementing tougher laws?
Acid remains inexpensive and freely available to exploit. Preventing acid attacks on people requires a multi-faceted approach that involves education, legislation, and enforcement. Here are some examples of how acid attacks can be avoided, and steps that can be taken to make it difficult for people to access acids by implementing tougher laws:
Education: Raising awareness about the harmful effects of acid attacks is an essential step in preventing such crimes. Educational programs can be implemented in schools and communities to promote awareness and encourage people to speak out against this heinous crime. These programs can also focus on gender bias, women's rights, and the prevention of violence against women and children.
Regulation: Governments can regulate the sale and purchase of acids, requiring buyers to provide a valid reason for purchasing the acid and the details of the intended use. Additionally, they can restrict the sale of acids to licensed vendors who have undergone background checks and have received proper training on the safe handling and storage of acids.
Licensing: Authorities can require individuals and businesses to obtain a license before purchasing, storing, or selling acids. The license would require the applicant to provide valid identification and the purpose of the acid purchase. Licensing would help track the usage and supply of acids, making it easier to monitor potential misuse.
Strict penalties: Acid attacks are criminal offenses that should be punished with severe penalties. Governments can enact strict laws and regulations, increasing the penalties for acid attacks, making it a non-bailable offense, and ensuring speedy trials. This would serve as a deterrent and send a message to potential perpetrators that acid attacks would not be tolerated.
Victim support: Governments can set up support programs for acid attack victims, providing them with medical and psychological assistance, rehabilitation, and vocational training. These programs would help survivors regain their confidence and reintegrate into society.
Surveillance and enforcement: Authorities can monitor the sale, purchase, and use of acids, track the supply chain, and crack down on illegal sales and misuse. This would require increased surveillance, proper training for law enforcement agencies, and dedicated resources to enforce the regulations.
International cooperation: International organizations can collaborate with governments to promote awareness, share best practices, and provide technical assistance in regulating and monitoring the sale and purchase of acids.
Acid attacks are a devastating crime that has severe physical, psychological, and social consequences for the victim. Governments, civil society, and international organizations can work together to prevent acid attacks by raising awareness, enacting strict laws, and regulations, and providing support to survivors. With awarness, collective action and cooperation, safer environments can be created to make it a just world for everyone.
What should be the penalties for those who break the law and sell harmful acids to the public openly and without regard for the rule of law?
Penalties for those who break the laws of selling acids to the public openly and without any regard for the rule of law should be severe to deter such criminal behavior. These penalties should reflect the severity of the crime and the damage caused to the victim. Here are some possible penalties:
Imprisonment: Individuals who sell acids to the public without following the proper regulations and guidelines should face imprisonment. The length of imprisonment should depend on the severity of the crime, ranging from a few months to decades.
Fine: Fines should be imposed on those who break the laws of selling acids to the public openly. The amount of the fine should be proportionate to the crime committed and the economic status of the offender.
Suspension or revocation of license: Individuals and businesses that sell acids without following the proper regulations and guidelines should have their licenses suspended or revoked. This would prevent them from continuing to operate and send a message to others that such behavior would not be tolerated.
Restitution: Offenders should be required to compensate the victims for the damage caused by the acid attack. This would include medical expenses, lost wages, and other costs associated with the attack.
Public service: Offenders could be required to perform community service as part of their punishment. This would serve as a form of rehabilitation and would also benefit the community.
Penalties for those who break the laws of selling dangerous acids to the public openly and without any regard for the rule of law should be severe to deter such criminal behavior. The penalties should be designed to punish the offenders, compensate the victims, and prevent such crimes from happening in the future.
What should be the punishment for those who use acid to attack other people?
The punishment for those who use acid to attack other people should be harsh to reflect the gravity of the crime and to serve as a deterrent to others. The following are some examples of punishments that could be imposed on acid attackers:
Life imprisonment: Acid attackers should face a lengthy prison sentence, with a possibility of life imprisonment in cases where the attack causes severe physical and psychological harm or death.
Community service: Attackers could be required to perform community service as part of their punishment. This would allow them to make amends for their actions, learn about the consequences and provide some benefit to society.
Rehabilitation: Rehabilitation programs could be offered to acid attackers, including counseling and therapy to help them overcome their violent tendencies and prevent them from repeating the offense.
Public shaming: The attackers could be publicly shamed as a form of punishment. This would send a message to others that such behavior would not be accepted and would help deter future attacks.
In some countries, the punishment for acid attackers is severe. For example, in Bangladesh, the Acid Crime Prevention Act was passed in 2002, which made acid attacks punishable by death. In India, acid attackers can face a minimum of ten years imprisonment, which can extend to life imprisonment. In the UK, acid attackers can face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
Acid attacks are heinous crimes that cause immense physical, emotional, and psychological harm to the victims. The punishment for such crimes should be severe to serve as a deterrent to others and to ensure justice for the victims.
Can there be harsher punishments for those who use acid to attack people?
Stricter punishments for acid attackers may include:
Death penalty: In some countries, such as Bangladesh and Iran, the death penalty is imposed for acid attacks. However, this punishment is controversial and may not be considered appropriate in all jurisdictions.
Chemical castration: In some countries, chemical castration has been suggested as a punishment for sex offenders, including those who commit acid attacks. This involves the administration of drugs to reduce the offender's drive.
Permanent disfigurement: Acid attackers could be required to undergo permanent disfigurement as part of their punishment. This would involve causing them to suffer the same physical harm that they inflicted on their victim, such as scarring or disfigurement.
Public flogging: In some countries, public flogging has been used as a punishment for various crimes, including acid attacks. This would involve the offender being publicly whipped as a form of humiliation and punishment.
Life imprisonment without parole: This punishment would ensure that the offender remains in prison for the rest of their life and cannot be released on parole.
Extradition: If the offender flees to another country to avoid punishment, they could be deported back to the jurisdiction where the crime was committed to face trial and punishment.
It is meaningful to note that punishments should be proportionate to the crime committed and should comply with international human rights standards. The goal of punishment is not only to punish the offender but also to deter others from committing similar crimes and to provide justice for the victim.
How can we bring justice to the victims of acid attacks, and what kind of a support mechanism should be built to help the victims of acid attacks?
Bringing justice to the victims of acid attacks is a multi-faceted process that involves legal, medical, and social support. The following are some steps that can be taken to provide justice and support for victims of acid attacks:
Legal support: Victims of acid attacks should have access to legal support to ensure that their rights are protected and that the perpetrators are held accountable. This includes providing free legal aid, fast-tracking court cases, and ensuring that the punishment for acid attackers is severe.
Medical support: Victims of acid attacks require immediate medical attention to minimize the damage caused by the acid. Long-term medical support is also needed to help victims recover from their injuries and cope with any long-term health effects. Medical support should be comprehensive and include plastic surgery, psychological counseling, and rehabilitation.
Social support: Victims of acid attacks often face social isolation and discrimination. To overcome this, social support should be provided to help victims reintegrate into society. This includes providing vocational training, job placements, and financial assistance to support their livelihood.
Awareness campaigns: To prevent acid attacks from happening in the first place, mass awareness campaigns should be launched to educate the public about the devastating effects of acid attacks on victims and the severe punishment for perpetrators. This will help to reduce the stigma associated with acid attack victims and increase the likelihood of reporting such incidents to the authorities.
Rehabilitation centers: The establishment of rehabilitation centers can provide a safe space for acid attack victims to heal and recover from their injuries. These centers can offer a range of services such as medical treatment, counseling, vocational training, and legal support.
Public-private partnerships: Collaboration between the government, non-governmental organizations, and private companies can help to provide a holistic support mechanism for victims of acid attacks. This partnership can ensure that resources are pooled together to provide the best support possible for the victims.
Awareness campaigns utilizing all available mass media and public-private partnerships can play a strong role in preventing acid attacks from transpiring.
Justice and support for victims of acid attacks require a comprehensive approach that involves legal, medical, and social reinforcement. Providing access to legal representation, medical attention, and social rehabilitation can help victims recover from their injuries and reintegrate into society.