In a male ruled society like India, most of the women have been facing abuse and domination at every step of their lives. Acid attacks in our country have emaciated the lives of thousands of young women whose only fault was that they disclaimed marriage proposals, rejected sexual advances from men they didn’t fancy, or were caught in the conflict of domestic disputes. Unfortunately, after so many lives gone for stake not to curb incidents of acid attacks on women, the government would soon make data available online on the sale of acids. Each State government has been asked to ensure that acid is sold to a person above 18 years of age, the buyer has a photo identity card and a register is maintained to track the use of acids. In India’s patriarchal society, men who take resentment at being spurned turn to acid as a retributive weapon.
Sulfuric, nitric, and hydrochloric acid are most commonly used and these commodities are cheap and readily available in many instances. For example, often acid throwers can purchase a litre of concentrated sulfuric acid at motorbike mechanic shops for throw away prices. Nitric acid is available for purchase at gold or jewellery shops, as polishers generally use it to purify gold and metals. Hydrochloric acid is also used for polishing jewellery, as well as for making soy sauce, cosmetics, and traditional medicine/amphetamine drugs. There are various sources to acquire these acids and keeping the data of all purchasers and controlling them is highly impossible.
Uttar Pradesh has recorded the highest number of acid attack cases with 186 such incidents reported in the state out of the 310 cases registered across the country in 2014. In the same year 27 acid attack cases were registered in Delhi. Fifty three cases of acid attacks were registered in Madhya Pradesh, 11 in Gujarat, seven in Haryana, six in Maharashtra, four each in Punjab and Andhra Pradesh and three each in Bihar and Odisha last year. A total of 208 people were arrested across India for their alleged involvement in acid attack cases in 2014. This year they are on the rise. Crime against women is surging. Government needs to be more sensitive towards such incidences, merely publishing the data of purchase will not help in controlling such crimes.
Due to ease of access, many organizations call for a stricter regulation on the acid economy. Specific actions include required licenses for all acid traders, a ban on concentrated acid in certain areas, and enhanced system of monitoring for acid sales, such as the need to document all transactions involving acid. However, some scholars have warned that such stringent regulation may result in black marketing of acid, which law enforcements must keep in mind. A woman has to face endless difficulties throughout her life. She has to struggle even before entering this world.
And the male chauvinists in society always tried to suppress or eliminate her- either in the form of female foeticide or in the form of child marriage, and this suppression leads to more crimes against women. Perpetrators of these attacks throw acid at their victims, usually at their faces, burning them, and damaging skin tissue, often exposing and sometimes dissolving the bones. Many victims become blind, as well as permanent scarring of the face and body along with far-reaching social, psychological, and economic difficulties. The attackers are hardly caught and punished. Even if they are nabbed the lengthy judicial procedure, corruption and insensitivity in various legal and police departments enable them to roam scot free. They go unnoticed or punished.
Today, acid attacks are reported in many parts of the world. Since 1990s, Bangladesh has been reporting the highest number of attacks and highest incidence rates for women, with 3,512 Bangladeshi women becoming victims between 1999 and 2013. Although acid attacks occur all over the world, including in Europe and the United States, this type of violence is concentrated in South Asia. The most notable effects of an acid attack is the lifelong bodily disfigurement and there is a high survival rate amongst victims of acid attacks. Consequently the victim is faced with physical challenges, which require long-term surgical treatment, as well as psychological challenges, which require in-depth intervention from psychologists and counsellors at each stage of physical recovery. These far-reaching effects on victim’s lives impact their psychological, social and economic viability in communities. In addition to medical and psychological effects, many social implications exist for acid survivors, especially women. For example, such attacks usually leave victims handicapped in some way, rendering them dependent on either their spouse or family for everyday activities, such as eating and running errands. These dependencies are increased by the fact that many acid survivors are unable to find suitable work, due to impaired vision and physical handicap. This negatively impacts their economic viability, causing hardships on the families/spouses that care for them. Moreover, acid survivors who are single when attacked almost certainly become ostracized from society, effectively ruining marriage prospects.
Acid attack is one of the most heinous crimes against women. It not only just inflicts physical injuries but also destroys the victim’s entire life, leaving the scars of the heinous crime on the body and mind of the victim. The beautiful lives go burned in rage of anger, disagreement and revenge. Its high time society and government collectively should take some aggressive steps, to prevent such attacks.