Acid attack on women- a general introduction
Incidence of acid attacks mostly occur when a women denies to be in a relationship with a man. Some men can’t handle rejection of any kind and they take revenge in form of acid attack. Sometimes, family disputes too result in acid attack. The women are thought to be vulnerable enough to take revenge in such form. There has also been cases where petty fights between couples has resulted in acid attack. It is very easy for a criminal to throw acid on the face of a woman and run away. Acid is used in day to day life for cleaning of kitchen, washroom, jewellery etc. Thus it is easily available in market at a low cost. The criminal is successful in hiding his identity by covering his face during the crime. This is the reason why there has been tremendous increase in this heinous crime in recent times.
How dangerous can acid attacks be?
The intensity of burning depends upon what type of acid was used in the crime. Generally the criminal uses Hydrochloric acid, Nitric acid and Sulphuric acid to attack women. These acids cause severe burning of the face and even the bones get melted. If the acid enters the eyes of the victim, she loses her eyesight. In some cases the women lost their ability to hear due to the attack. When the acid enters the wind pipe or the food pipe, it leads to fatal diseases like Ulcer. Many deaths have been reported after acid attacks. If the burn is very deep the face becomes ugly and the skin becomes sagging. Permanent marks are left on the face and body of the victim wherever the acid is thrown. After the burn is treated, the victim needs sessions of plastic surgery to look a little normal. These sessions call for a huge amount of money that can be up to 10-15 lakhs and even more. It is not possible for every victim to afford such costly treatment. The compensation that is promised to her remains only on paper. Those who survive the acid attack face severe social, physical and emotional torture. The woman loses her self- confidence. It is difficult for the family members to behave with her normally though they try their best to do so. A single woman has no chances of getting married and those who are already married are hated or left alone by their spouse. Even the children of the woman fear the ugly face of her and keep a distance. The pain she goes through, is impossible to imagine. The victim can’t socialize with people. In short the victim of acid attack loses her right to live. In addition to all these the expenses of her treatment shatters her economically. On the other hand the criminal enjoys free life on bail or is relieved after a small imprisonment.
What does the Law say
Generally, the punishment for such crime is based on the intensity of burn on the body of the victim. If the burn is small, the culprit can be sent to jail for three years under the section 324 of Indian Penal Court (IPC). If the burn is severe, according to the section 326 of IPC, the criminal can get imprisonment of 10 years extendable to lifetime imprisonment along with fine. The fine is used for the treatment of the victim. Under the section 307, a case can be filed charging the victim of Attempt to murder but this is very rare. In April 2013, Supreme Court of India rebuked the Centre on the easy availability of acid in markets. The Supreme Court also blamed the Centre of being insensitive towards the victims of acid attacks and of not taking necessary steps to stop the crime. As a result of this wig from the Supreme court of India, the Centre has said on 16th July 2013, Tuesday, that acid will be treated as poison. The buyers of acid will now have to produce identity proof, residential proof along with contact number and the purpose of purchase. The Centre also said that acid sold through retailers will be not strong enough to corrode human body. The government will make a new law based on the Poison Act 1919 to curb acid attacks by putting restriction on its easy availability in market.
Steps needed to stop the crime?
The first and foremost thing is that the Indian society needs to change its mentality towards judging women. For years, our society has been habituated of cutting wings of woman. Today, the woman is being progressive and she is strong enough to deny a proposal which she thinks is not good for her. This denial or rejection is taken as aggression of modern women by some men and they develop a maniac attitude to take revenge just to satisfy their ego. Though the number of acid attacks have risen in recent times, the women can’t sit at home due to fear of such attacks. She needs to be cautious and aware. She should report any suspicious activity such as being followed by a male to her family and police. She should avoid meeting with any such person alone who she thinks can harm her. Basically she should be her own helper and follow the safety rules for independent women.
Role of media in stopping acid attacks
Media can play a very vital role in curbing acid attacks. They show every bit of the story where a woman has been a victim of an acid attack. Similarly, the media should cover exclusively and highlight the punishment given to the criminals that fear is created in the minds of those who are planning to execute any such plan.
NGO’s stand united against these attacks
The NGO’s can also play a great role in becoming the voices of the victims of these attacks. A successful example of this is the Campaign and Struggle Against Acid Attacks on Women(CSAAAW) which was formed in the year 2003 in Bangalore. The aim of this campaign is to force government to ensure rehabilitation of the acid attack victims and stop such attack on women. This campaign has seen great success and has helped many victims. We need more such NGO’s in every city.
Reform in law and its proper implementation
There are many strict laws against acid attacks in India but the misfortune of our country is that most of them remain only in paper. The already existing law against these attacks need to be implemented properly. In addition to this we need some changes in the law that can prove effective in curbing acid attacks and help the victim lead her life with dignity. Some such changes and initiatives that are the need of the time are as below-