“Acid attacks” from the word itself is very daring and dangerous to hear. Acid which is a very dangerous chemical is used for various purposes like burning, decomposing, etc. Scientists also use acids for various experiments but nobody would have ever imagined that this could even be used for ruining someone’s life. Acid attack is not something which is unheard in India, one of the live example is Lakshmi Agarwal. There are many humans in around the world who suffered due to acid attack.
Acid attack is such a heinous form of crime which makes the life of the victim miserable. It is basically done with the aim of ruining a person’s life. Mostly the victims of acid attacks are women. One of the common reasons behind this is the relationship problem. This is the problem which arises due to narrow minded people who cannot face rejection in their life. And because of such people in around the world such type of violence occurs which is itself a threat to the society at large. Acid attacks are increasing globally day by day and now the time has come when we have to stand united against it and have to fight for our safety. Its time for social, medical and legal reform to stop the scourge.
The latest crime data for 2018 from the National Crime Bureau (NCRB) shows acid attack cases are constantly getting transferred or sitting in police files year after year. This is shown by the data; in Indian courts 523 cases were slated for trial in 2018 which are up from 407 in 2016 and 422 in 2017. So, while total number of “registered” cases in a particular year are on a slight decline, the fact that very few cases are disposed of in a year is symptomatic of how slow the justice system is. Today acid attack is reported in many parts of the world, as the UK has one of the highest rates of acid attacks per capita in the world, according to acid survivors trust international. Since the 1990’s BANGLADESH has been reporting the highest number of attack rates on women.
Within 1999 to 2013 the data of acid attack in Bangladesh were recorded up to 3512 in number. As per analysis of news report revealed, at least 72% of reported attacks included at least 1 female victim. From January 2002 to October 2010, 153 cases of acid assault where reported while 174 judicial cases where reported for the year 2000. India’s incidence rates of chemical assault have been increasing in the past decade with a high 27 reported cases in 2010.
Motives of acid attack
In India, the majority of victims were inclined to love issues, sexual abuse, ex- accomplices’ revenge, extra marital relation, dowry, in appropriate activities, property issues and alternate reasons. Features and behaviour of criminals are as follows:
This condition would lead the individual to either dejection or hostility because of claim disappointments. This may wind up with relationships, unfaithfulness, cruelty, etc.
Individual when he neglects to accomplish great connection or closeness may cause genuine sort of animosity swings into to do assault by pouring corrosive.
To increase sexual interest and sexual ill-treating. These persons are immodest and provocative in nature.
Acid attacks often occur as revenge against women who reject a proposal of marriage or a sexual advance. Gender inequality and women’s position in the society, in relation to men plays an important role in these types of incidences. Conflicts regarding property issues, land disputes and inheritance have also been reported as motivation of acid attack.
Consequences Due to Acid Attack
Definitely consequences of these attacks are born by the victims. Consequences are of such a nature that nobody would ever think in their entire life. Due to acids, the victims lose their eyesight permanently, as well as permanent scarring of face and body, along with far reaching social, psychological, and economic difficulties. The pain victims go through is not easy rather impossible to feel.
Acid assaults are the most frightful act against human body particularly to make harm on the body and in addition rationally the victims of these kinds of incidents will suffer lot through their life with so much of agony.
The victim is faced with physical challenges which require long term surgical treatment, as well as psychological challenges, which require in-depth interventions from psychologists and counsellors at each stage of physical recovery.
a) Medical Effect
The medical effect of acid attacks is extensive. According to the survey report it comes to know that a majority of acid attacks are aimed at the face. The severity of the damage depends on the concentration of acid. The common damages which are faced by already 99% of the victims of acid attacks are as follows:
- The skull is partially destroyed and hair lost
- Ear cartilage is usually partly or totally damaged; deafness may occur.
- The nose can become shrunken and deformed, due to destroyed cartilage the nostrils may close off completely.
- Sometimes the lips and cheeks may be partially or totally destroyed, and exposing the teeth. The mouth becomes narrow and shrunken. It become more difficult to eat and speak.
- Acid attack victims face the possibility of sepsis, skin depigmentation and even death.
b) Psychological Effect
Psychologically the assessment of acid victims especially women victims should be deliberated all over the world to make awareness and to aid victims.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder: – This issue can be influenced by the people, the individual who neglect to recover from experience of horrendous circumstances. Acid victims terribly get affected in the most of the cases due to their proneness. Usually women victims are more prone to this kind of disorders. The affected person may feel severe fear of culprits and events may further lead them into be lonely or hatred-ness towards such acts.
- Frustration: – It creates in the victims of corrosive assaults by revealing themselves since they met a sad condition.
- Misandry: – This regularly found in women, it hatred towards men and young men. The victims who develop misandry feel much furious and dread.
After medical and psychological affect many social implications also exist for the victims, especially women. These attacks rendering them dependent on their spouse or family for everyday activities, such as eating and running errands. Due to impaired visions and physically handicapped, many acid attack survivors are not able to get work. This negatively impacts their economic viability, causing hardships on the families that care for them.
Chemical burns require immediate medical attention, following are the first aid measures should be taken for acid burns: –
- The most important first aid is to immediately wash affected body part of patients with plenty of fresh or saline water.
- Keep flushing the affected burn area with plenty of cool water until the patients burning sensation starts fading. It may take 30 to 45 minutes.
- Remove all the jewellery or clothing which had contact with acid.
- Do not apply any kind of cream, ointment on the affected area as it may slow the treatment procedure by doctor.
- If possible, use sterilised gauze to loosely wrap the affected area.
- After hospital treatment, patients are advised to stick to a strict after care regime which includes dressing change on a regular basis.
- As acid assaults are traumatic patients may also advise to seek counselling.
Step which should not be taken in the event of an acid attack
We think milk could act as a soothing remedy in the event of an acid burn but expert advise it as a bad idea. Milk is generally alkaline though as it goes off it becomes more acidic. Milk could increase the risk of infections.
Research has prompted many solutions to the increasing incidence of acid attacks in the world. Nearly all research stressed the need for strict regulation of acid sales to combat this social issue. Many NGOs have been formed with the highest occurrence of acid attacks to combat such attacks. NGOs also provide rehabilitation services for survivors while acting as advocates for social reform, hoping to increase support and awareness for acid assault. A positive correlation has been observed between acid attacks and ease of acid purchase. All cheap and readily available acids like sulphuric, nitric and hydrochloric acid are most commonly used in acid attacks. Due to such ease of access, many organizations call for a stricter regulation on the acid economy.
- Specifications include required license for all acid traders.
- A ban on concentrated acid in certain area, and an enhance system of monitoring for acid sales.
- Buyer should provide all legal documents which purchasing acid.
Laws relating to acid attacks in India
Till now there is no specific laws in India to deal with the cases of acid attacks. The section 326 of the Indian penal code which deals with voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means was not so effective in dealing with this heinous crime because it does not include acid attack. The eighteenth law commission of India then proposed a new section 326A and 326B in the Indian penal code and section 114B in the Indian evidence act to deal with the criminals. The scope of section 326 is very narrow but it does not deal adequately with the issue of acid attack because it does not include various kinds of injuries, the act of administering acid attack and also it does not specify the fine to be imposed as well as the punishment which would be awarded to the criminal.
The gazette of India dated 2nd April 2013 went arrange through the union ministry of law and justice, authorised criminal law amendment act 2013 ruled out improvement and included to the section 100 of Indian penal code under chapter II, of amendment bill.
- Section 5 of criminal law amendment bill 2013, made amendment to the section 326A of Indian penal code states whoever cause permanent or partial damage or deformity to, or burns or disfigures or disobeys any parts or part of the body of person or causes grievous hurt by throwing acid on or by administering acid to that person or by using any other mean with the intention of causing or with the knowledge that he is likely to cause such injury or hurt, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than 10 years but which may extend to imprisonment for life with fine.
- Section 326B voluntarily throwing or attempting to throw acid. Whoever throws or attempt to throw acid on any person or attempt to administer acid to any person or attempts to use any other means with the intention of causing permanent or partial damage or deformity or burns or disfigurement or disability of grievous hurt to the person, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for term which shall not less than 5 years but may extend to 7 years shall also be liable to fine.
- Section 307 IPC- Attempt to Murder :- whoever does any act with such intension or knowledge ,and under such circumstances that, if he by that caused death ,he would guilty for murder, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 10 years, and shall also be liable to fine ; and if hurt is caused to any person by such act, the offender should be liable either for imprisonment for life or to such punishment as its mentioned.
The acid laws in India are genuinely considered with basic perspective. The current laws in corrosive assaults may be changed victim survivors view points are to be amplifying further genuine punishment. Deforming the face is thought to be the attempt to kill, one’s victim loses the regular skin makes the lasting imprint for whole life, so the consideration depends on the seriousness of the offence ought to rebuff with the label of murder attempts.
Case study 1
A young girl hardly aged 20 years was working in a computer office of which the accused was the proprietor. After sometime, the office incurred a loss and she left the office, and started working in some other company. The accused started pestering her to leave the new job. Enraged by it, the accused threatened her with dire consequences for not accepting his offer. One day when she was near the gate of the company in which she was working, the accused came on a motorcycle holding a plastic jug and on coming her near her, he splashed the contents of the jug on her and fled.
When she cried out of a pain, people nearby came and took her to hospital. The trial court further held that though the prosecution has proved that it is the accused who threw acid on the victim which caused severe acid burn injuries on her , the offence does not fall under Section 307 IPC, as put forth by the prosecution but one punishable under Section 326 and 201 Accordingly, the sentenced to undergo R.I.; for five years three months( the period already undergone by the accused during trial) and also imposed a fine of Rs. 300000, carrying default sentence. He also sentenced the appellant to undergo R.I. for 2 years with fine for the offence punishable under section 201 IPC (both the sentences to tun concurrently).
Case study 2
The Attacks That Shook A Nation
Laxmi, India’s best-known acid attacks survivors, was only 15 years old when a man has thrown attack on her face in 2005. Laxmi was on her way from her music class when a man who was twice of her age threw acid on her for rejecting his advances. The incident led her face and other body parts disfigured. Although she received treatment on time in a span of 10 years, she went through many surgeries, which almost affected her mental health. But with her courage and determination, Laxmi took up life’s challenge and manage to stand back on her feet.
Till 2013 there was no specific law for acid attacks. The IPC Sections 322,323,320,326(2) were to be applied to this crime and the compensation which will be awarded to the victims stands far away from their medical expense. As there is a continuous rise in a acid attacks there was an urgent need for a specific law for acid attacks. And this issue came before the court in Laxmi Vs Union of India.
Judgement of Supreme Court
After this case the Indian Penal Code recognized the acid attacks and attempt to do acid attack as a crime under 326A and 326B of IPC. And criminal procedure code got amended and inserted 357 A and 357 B to compensate the victims
.The following numbers represents the acid attack incidents from 2013 to 2018 in India
The vitriol age are intense offenses, the reported incidents and the size of the offense demonstrate that the crime occurrence are expanding each year; still, there are some sure potential outcomes of dark figures of crime. The strict control on the drug dealers and the chemical suppliers might help to combat these issues. And the strategy of highest of highest punishments would impact population to not do such offenses. There is need of good victim Survey’s at the governmental level as well.
1. “Cambodian victim on her acid attack” BBC News. 21 march 2010. Archived from the original on 25 March2010. Retrieved 23 April 2010.
2. Taylor, L.M. (2000). Saving Face: Acid attack laws after the un convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against Women. Ga. J. Int’l & Comp.L.;29,395.
3. Acid Survivors Foundation India
4. Law commission of India report – 226 (2009). Proposal for inclusion of acid attacks as specific offenses in Indian Penal Code and a Law for Compensation for victims of crime.
Author Details: Shanu chandwasia (3rd year student of B.A. LL.B. (Hons.) at Amity University, Kolkata)