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80pc victims of 1,500 acid attacks reported each year are women: charity

June 03, 2015

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We need to look not merely at the people who are throwing acid on others, we need to look at the availability of the acid.—Reuters/File
We need to look not merely at the people who are throwing acid on others, we need to look at the availability of the acid.—Reuters/File

NEW DELHI: Bottles of acid are too easily available in India and the makers should take responsibility for the rising number of acid attacks, the head of India’s National Commis­sion for Women (NCW) has said.

Acid attacks — meant to maim, disfigure or blind people — are most common in Cambodia, followed by Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan and India.

Women are the victims of 80 per cent of the 1,500 acid attacks reported globally each year, the London-based charity Acid Survivors Trust International says.

“When we talk about laws, we need to look not merely at the people who are throwing acid on others, we need to look at the availability of the acid,” NCW chairman Lalita Kumaramangalam said at an event on Monday.

“Small manufacturers don’t think beyond their sales. They don’t bother about where these bottles end up and how they perhaps could be used,” she said. Acid attacks are ‘vile’ and top the list of heinous crimes, she added.

In India, 349 acid attacks were reported in 2014, up from 116 in 2013 and 106 in 2012, according to research by the charity Acid Survivors Foundation India (ASFI).

Despite a law making acid violence a separate offence with a minimum penalty of 10 years in jail, and a Supreme Court ruling on the regulation and sale of dangerous chemicals, acids are still bought and sold without the required licences.

Household cleaners, which contain highly concentrated acids, are cheap and plentiful in markets, said Kumaramangalam, speaking at the launch of a new book by ASFI.

Published in Dawn, June 3rd, 2015

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