Acid throwing as a menace for young girls and women saw a spike in the 1980s before reaching an alarming level in the 1990s. But the occurrence of this devious practice has significantly gone down over the years, with only 59 incidents recorded in 2015 compared to 494 in 2002. While the social scientists might be able to explain how it has happened in an increasingly violent society, it brings a respite for everyone to carefully rethink what should be the best way to control this heinous crime.
The tragedy of acid throwing is that it virtually kills a victim without taking her life. Those of us who have seen acid victims or know about how painfully they struggle to live, should understand how these victims live the absurd lives of the living dead. It happens so quickly that the corroding takes place even before the victims realize they have been attacked. The face is disfigured and other parts of the body get burned in the blink of an eye.
Acid throwing is thus a crime against humanity, particularly targeting the female gender. Distraught men spurned in love or marriage proposals are the primary perpetrators of this terrible offense. Many a time, property-related disputes and family feuds lead enemies to resort to this despicable means. The passions driving the acid throwers commonly are vengeance and intimidation.
But this is perhaps the cruelest form of violence that in most cases spares the lives of its victims but turns their lives into a perpetual horror. For as long as they live, they have to live with the scars that disfigure their faces besides causing other physical deformities. Many of them go blind, perhaps a blessing in disguise because they do not have to see the horror with their own eyes. Others suffer from hearing problems as well as difficulties in other bodily functions.
Thus the acid survivors are a contradiction in terms because they may survive the attack but not its nightmare. Instead that nightmare is repeated every day in many forms as the victims see their faces in the mirrors or are shunned by their families and friends. In most cases, they do not get justice as political influence, money and legal loopholes allow the criminals to go scot-free. The plight of the victims at times is further aggravated when these criminals start harassing them and their families.
So far the society has failed to provide the biggest compensation to the acid survivors, which is justice. Debates have been held and laws have been formulated. The government has formed national and district-level action committees to combat acid attacks. All these measures may have created some desirable impact, which must be why the number of acid throwing has been significantly curtailed.
Yet we are still remiss in our duty to ensure justice for the victims. We are also inadequate in our preparation for giving these victims a second chance in life. True, some of these victims are helped by the government bodies and NGOs to get treatments and jobs. Some of them also get support to send their children to school. But not all victims are lucky to get such assistance and they are left to stew in their own juice.
Two obvious fronts to fight this menace on are supply of acid in the country and the judicial system. If the access to this corrosive compound can be controlled, then half the battle is won already. Secondly, we need to put more emphasis on bringing justice to the victims so that they can live with the satisfaction that those who have ruined their lives did not go unpunished. Saving future victims is the real tribute to the past victims.