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#StopAcidAttacks: Acid Attack Caught on Camera

“Acid attacks” the pairing of the two words is more despicable and disgusting than what the two mean alone.  No one asks or is shocked of news reports or media coverage on acid attacks, because sadly enough they’re all too common. The worst part of acid attacks isn’t the fact that people aren’t outraged by the fact that they occur, but why these attacks still continue to plague society, especially those directed against women. As for India, many Indian women and families suffer due to the physical and emotional scars left by acid attacks. Yet, having a video for the whole world to see the senselessness of the act has been more than enough to call attention to this issue.

It was breaking news when the acid assault on a 30 year old woman was caught on camera on the morning of December 24th. The doctor was attacked in Rajouri Garden. While on the road, she was suddenly sprayed with acid by two attackers who sped off after they stole her belongings.  The motive behind the attack was nothing new, but for the victim she couldn’t believe that the perpetrator behind such a ruthless act was her “best friend” of 10 years. The reason the woman was brutally assaulted was because a 32-year old man could not bear to see his friend of 10 years get married, after she rejected his own proposal. Dr. Ashok Yadav studied with the victim in Russia and developed a relationship over the span of 10 years, yet after getting rejected and then hearing about her marriage, the so called “friend” decided to retaliate against her by throwing acid in her face. Specifically, Yadav said: “Main usko sabak dikhana chahta tha (English: I wanted to teach her a lesson).” After the attack, the woman was brought to the AIIMS where she underwent extensive surgery and lost her right eye and got plastic surgery. 

India was in an uproar when the news hit the air, and due to the fact it was caught on tape by CCTV, it brought a lot of attention to acid attacks in India. On Twitter, the news blew up with the hashtag #StopAcidAttacks with people commenting on how shocked they were or what needed to be done in India. One tweet was by Indian politician Arvind Kejriwal:

“Shocked to know about an acid attack on a young lady in Rajour Garden. What is happening in Delhi ?”

The issue of acid attacks is one part of a bigger issue: attacks on women and inadequate protection. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, the reported crimes increased from 244,270 to 309,546 this year, which is 65,276 more reported injustices directed towards women. Acid attacks leave scars deeper than the wounds on the skin.

The people who actively participate in organizations against acid attacks explain how simple it is to purchase acid and ruin someone’s life. There are many more cases of acid attacks, and these women suffered because of how acid is so easily obtainable and deadly.

“One of them pinned me down while another held my hands and legs. The father of my boyfriend then forced acid down my throat.” This is the account of 21-year old Shabana from Kolkata who was tortured by the family of her boyfriend after seeking approval to get married. The assault did not stop there, after she passed out, the assailants stripped her down and continued to pour acid over her body.

In India, acid can be bought by anyone as a strong cleaning agent, but for many it becomes a tool to commit heinous crimes against women and others. It seems that using acid to disfigure young, bold women is used to compensate for their own issues of either rejection or similar issues, but now Indians are taking action, and even the survivors are beginning to stand up against this brutality.

Due to the recent news, the Home Ministry will reform its old laws and replace them with laws that will benefit acid survivors and their struggle. For example, there will be more regulation on the sale of acids and only with identification will an individual be able to buy harsh liquids. “This measure will considerably reduce unauthorized sale of acid in the country,” stated Rajnath Singh, the Home Minister.

Also, the punishment for acid attacks will become more severe, resulting in longer jail time or even a death sentence, and it will be placed under “Heinous Crimes.” Besides the government action, the victims themselves took a stance to challenge the negative stigma through working in a cafe. The young women work in the cafe selling clothing or crafts that they have made, all in a effort to show people that they are strong, independent, young women.

An acid attack is a monstrous form violence since it makes it difficult for the victims to recover from their traumatic experience by causing permanent physical damage and emotional trauma. There is a lot of negative stigma for survivors because of their scars and wounds that disfigure them or because of resultant disability. Thankfully, some people are supporting acid survivors, because of the public being fed up with such gruesome acts and demanding for justice.

[Image Attribute DFID – UK Department for International Development ]
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