Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Wide Awake:"Acid Attacks on Women are a problem in South Asia"
"Mamata's story goes back 12 years, to when she was 14. Her crime was that she refused to stay with a husband who had decided to marry again.Over several months, while she stayed with her parents, he coaxed, threatened and tried to persuade her, but to no avail. One day catching up with her as she headed for work, he suggested she come and sit for a while in the quiet, secluded park en route.Then as she made to leave he grabbed her hands and threw acid over her face and arms, leaving her permanently scarred."
This extreme form of domestic violence is absolutely devastating. It is an act of revenge that can occur over a declined marriage proposal, jealous husband, slow dowry payments and even from a disgruntled employer. As a result, many of these women are condemned by their families and ostracized by society. The victims have difficulty finding employment and may even blame themselves for the crime committed against them. Many of these women then cannot afford the numerous and expensive surgery and grafts that are needed. Injuries caused by acid attacks are severe and require long and complicated medical treatment including reconstructive surgery, exclusive nursing care, physiotherapy and psycotherapy. According to the Acid Survivors Foundation (ASF), 68% of the victims were women and girls and the top motivation for attacks are the result of money and land disputes ( for both men and women). In addition, in 2006 only 58% of individuals were convicted for this crime. This advocacy group is housed in Bangladesh and government institutions and NGOs in India are just beginning to "wake-up" to this increasing trend.