Our country has recently been witnessing a rise in the number of acid attacks, especially on women. The main intention behind the attackers is either disfiguring the face of the individual or killing them. One can also term it as violence against women based on gender. A recent research survey shows that around 78% of the acid attack cases recorded are either for refusal to marry or denial of romance. Hydrochloric acids and sulphuric acids are the most common weapons which have been used by the attackers and the fact that they are inexpensive and easily available make the attacker more suitable to achieve his purpose.
IMPACTS OF ACID ATTACKS:
The acid attacks affect the victim both physically and mentally, which cannot be compensated with money. The victims of these acid attacks face numerous medical complications such as obvious and gruesome physical impact, however, does not overshadow the psychological, social and economic consequences of acid attacks. It also results in the development of anxiety, distress and also some instances of insanity.
Social consequences- Lakshmi Agarwal, one of the acid attack victims, mentioned once in an interview that the pain is not only internal but also external as the society continued to taunt and speak ill about her and her family because the society then does not accept an acid attack victim as a normal human being.
LACK OF ANY SPECIFIC LAW:
The essential fact here is that in India acid attack cases are not given much importance and hence there is no specific law regarding the same yet. The current legal provisions under which an accused is booked under the IPC is as follows:
- Section 320 (Grievous Hurt)
- Section 322 (Voluntarily causing grievous hurt)
- Section 325 (Punishment for voluntarily causing grievous hurt)
- Section 326 (Voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means).
An offender who is booked under section 325 of the IPC can be imprisoned for a period extended up to 7 years and also fined, whereas under section 326 the punishment is a bit harder. The perpetrator may be imprisoned for life or 10 years along with a fine. The most appalling fact is that the offender who is booked under section 325 of the IPC can get bail as per the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. As per section 375A of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 by Act 5 of 2009, provides for a scheme wherein the victim would receive funds as compensation or any of his dependants who have suffered as a result of the crime.
Today there is an increase in the number of acid attacks in many countries like Cambodia, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Pakistan including India. Bangladesh has recorded the highest number of acid attack cases. However, many countries have now started to come up with new laws to tackle such cases with utmost efficiency. NGO’s play a very important role in the lives of such victims; they are their ray of hope in such times.
They try their best to settle their unbalanced life and get it back on the normal track. NGO’s try to explore the job opportunities for them; they come forward to help these victims financially when the Government is unable to help and also raise funds for their medical treatments. They help in organising seminars for them where they could work and participate in developing skills.
These cases can be reduced only if there is a change in the attitude and mentality of the society. Firstly, the main root cause which leads to the commission of such crimes is ‘lack of education’. Most of the countries possess very high-level of violence against women. Also, it is observed that most of the acid attack victims are women. Therefore, it has become very crucial to educate the people and end all forms of violence against women. Prevention should start early in life, by educating and working with young boys and girls promoting respectful relationships and gender equality.
Ensuring the enforcement of the rights of the victim:
The Central and the State Governments role is not limited to only providing monetary compensation to the victim and his/her family but also ensuring that the victim restores back healthily in the society and work to ensure that certain rights of the victim are granted to them without any hassle. These rights include:
- Right to compensation;
- Right to a speedy trial;
- Right to be shielded from intimidation and harassment;
- Right to be informed;
- Right to be fair treatment;
- Right to attend and be present at criminal proceedings;
- Right to privacy;
- Right to be heard.
Although nowadays acid attack cases have been grabbing much attention by the people more care and attention needs to be given to prevent the commission of such dreadful crimes. The major problem is that the sale of the acid needs to be regulated as it has been made very easily available for the offenders. Thus, there is a serious need to regulate the sale of acid. Also, we as a society should understand the plight of the victims and treat them as equals, as they also deserve the same dignity and respect as other human beings.
Acid Attack Hydrochloric acids and sulphuric acids – Impact – Sections under which Acid Attack is booked 320, 322, 325, 326 IPC Acid Attack Hydrochloric acids and sulphuric acids – Impact – Sections under which Acid Attack is booked 320, 322, 325, 326 IPC