PESHAWAR, June 30: There is no competent authority in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to properly monitor the sale of chemicals like acids, which, because of their easy availability, are sometimes misused by disgruntled people in acid attacks, mostly on women.
“A litre of hydrochloric acid is available for as low as Rs50 and it can be easily bought from the market by any disgruntled person who can kill or destroy someone’s life at their sweet will. Women are the main victims in such attacks,” said chairman Voice of Prisoners Noor Alam Khan while talking to Dawn.
Mr Khan linked the soaring acid throwing incidents to its over-the-counter availability though, he said, the government had framed rules under which acid come under the purview of controlled chemicals and its open sale was prohibited.
Both the ascetic anhydride and hydrochloric acid, which are used by the would-be throwers, are available, he said.
He said that the government, which framed rules for control of chemicals under the Control of Narcotics Substance Act 1997, didn’t appoint a competent authority in the province to look into legalities of the sale of chemicals, like acid, which was being misused by people.
Last week, a local singer in Nowshera was attacked by a person, her alleged proposer, with acid with the aim to destroy her beauty to the extent that nobody married her, Mr Khan said, adding that it was the most appalling shape of violence against women and such attacks could be controlled through strict measures.
The perpetrators only need an acid-filled bottle to throw the liquid on the face or any other body part of the targeted person.
The acid survivors experience pain besides needing expensive treatment after which they can live, but face social stigma and loneliness due to disfigurement. The hospitals mostly lack resources to treat such patients like the burn victims.
Mr Khan said that acid attack victims were haunted by psychological problems, which not only inflicted pain, but also diminished the chances for the victim girl to happily marry and begin a new life.
Plastic surgeons at the city hospitals say many survivors are restricted to homes, as their families feel ashamed to bring acid attack victims in public due to deformity of the face.
“Many victims simply can not bear the expenses involved in reconstructive surgery due to which they avoid venturing outside,” they said.
The Voice of Prisoners chairman said that the disgruntled men wanted to deface the women for rejecting them as husbands. This happens due to a mentality of a male dominance which under a misconception think women a lesser human than men, he said.
He said that of 150 attacks in Pakistan last year only 49 were reported to the police.
Mr Khan said that new laws and increased awareness had brought the issue in the spotlight. The government passed the Criminal Law Amendment Act in 2011 whereby it made acid throwing a crime, bearing penalty of 14 years to life imprisonment besides a fine of Rs1 million.
This has worked as deterrence and conviction rates in acid violence had dropped during the past two years, which was a welcome sign, he said. Strict implementation of the law, which makes acid throwing a non-bailable offence, will work as deterrence.