Acid Attacks

From ArticleWorld

Women in South-Asian countries are facing great violence from the patriarchal society which can range from beatings, to sexual violence or torture, to broken bones and very serious injury caused by pouring of acid or burning the victim alive. The Acid Attacks which are a violent phenomenon that occurs primarily in societies like India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, and are almost always perpetrated by males against females. The chemical agent used to commit these attacks is usually hydrochloric acid, widely available in South Asian countries as a toilet cleaner. Critics of these attacks consider them evidence of deep rooted misogyny present in these societies. Acid Attacks are not often classified as domestic violence because they usually originate outside of the home.

This stance is aggravated by the lenience of punishment for these crimes. Leaving aside the unknown, according to the known statistics 2,205 women were attacked between the years 1999 & 2005 and age group ranging from under 18 years to 55 years. This attitude that characterize the perpetrators as victims-spurned suitors whose revenge qualifies as "Poetic Justice". The victims of these abuses are trapped in a society where beating from a male family member is acceptable and where independence and divorce are taboo. Often, these victims are trapped in vicious cycle where by they are abused twice over-once by their spouses and then by the very people they turn to for help-including policemen, judges and even religious persons. Detractors deem Acid Attacks another manifestation. of social structures that demand women and girls. Unquestioningly submit to male authority.

Debate and Relief.

On the other hand there is a protective attitude that declares this perception of Acid Attacks as inherently Western, another example of western ethnocentrism that characterizes Eastern or other countries as "barbaric" or "backward". Supporters of this stance often claim that these practices, their prevalence, and their significance are taken out of context by the Western media and greatly exaggerated. The debate between, east and west often obstructs social disease repagination. Primary examples of this problem of frequent concern to women are Acid Attacks, Clitoridectomies, honor killings, and sati, to name a few.

The debate of East versus West is repeatedly invoked to prevent local agitation for change, creating the discourse "Us versus them" terms. This makes it difficult for those located within the society to protest the practice in question, characterizing them as "anti-culture" or "pro-west". 8th march 2006 hailed the arrival of International Women's Day. In commemoration, Acid Survivors Foundation held several program’s around the country. We had an over whelming amount of support from the public where we had a large turn out of 3000 men and boys, wore white T-shirts and caps bearing the slogan "Stop Acid Violence, Save Humanity!" Although it is necessary to proceed with caution when critiquing a practice that is fundamentally foreign to the critic's way of life, no amount of cultural difference can disguise a human rights violation.


Although Acid Attacks mainly target women, there has been one case where a man was deliberately attacked by a woman, who divorced his wife, was twice targeted by her with Acid, permanently losing sight in 1 eye in the first assault. In Ms.Shah's case from Mumbai, she cannot expose her Acid burnt skin to the air either; new infection may set in bringing more problems. She cannot move around in trains or buses. On the other hand Solanki, the attacker has spent 2 months in prison but returned home soon after, on bail. She says, "My life has changed, his has not." Such attacks are not unknown in other countries, although they are not usually similarly motivated. Michael Musmanno discusses attending a trial for a similar crime in Italy during the inter-war period. In Australia, a Chinese-Australian named Dominic Li was murdered by gangsters by having Acid poured down his throat.

Related Social Problems

Women are harassed for increasing dowries after marriage, and punished, often with death for failure to obtain the requested amount of money or goods under dowry harassment which can be differentiated from Acid Attacks. But these deaths are often referred as accidental. Unlike Acid Attacks, this dowry related assaults and murders are orchestrated most often by the mother-in-law, and therefore cannot be properly defined as misogyny. Other misogynistic problems that are occurred in South Asia are Child Marriages and Sati. Moreover, there is a prevalence of abandoned female children, widows, aged parents, and mothers, and female feticide that attest to the misogynistic overtones still common in South Asian countries.