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To: The Government of India
Acid attacks are a form of gender-based violence aimed at silencing and controlling women. Their use as a weapon against women who refuse sexual or other advances is on the rise in India. This petition is seeking to force the Government of India and other respondents to introduce measures...…
Acid attacks are a form of gender-based violence aimed at silencing and controlling women. Their use as a weapon against women who refuse sexual or other advances is on the rise in India. This petition is seeking to force the Government of India and other respondents to introduce measures in order to deal more effectively and sensitively with acid attack cases. The petition seeks assurances from Government that speedy trials with special courts and also seeks sufficient compensation for the victims of such brutal attacks and the payment of medical treatments and other support and rehabilitative services required.
Acid attacks have many severe consequences on their victims; most potently it brands the victims as disobedient in the eyes of the perpetrator, the scars that these attacks leave are a public statement of the women’s perceived lack of worth. The attacks are clearly and cruelly calculated to permanently disfigure, debilitate and ultimately destroy the woman, physically, economically and psychologically.
The venomous intent behind these attacks is clear from the fact that most attacks are directed primarily at the face and result in scarring, deformity and injuries such as blindness. Many of these debilities leaves the victims severely disabled and disfigured, isolating them and driving them underground in the face of ridicule, making it nearly impossible for them to function in society. A subsequent result of this debilitation is an acute decrease in income for the victims and their families as they are forced to give up work. Even if they recover to the extent that they are fit for employment few employers are willing to hire people with such physical deformities. Most women also find themselves abandoned by their husbands. This leaves them solely responsible for their children, which can have a huge effect on their lives and their standard of living. Furthermore, many victims have hugely increased healthcare costs with essential medical treatment being required on an ongoing basis. It is often the case that medical expenses easily reach 6 Lakh.
There have also been cases where the incorrect medical treatment given to acid attack victims has exacerbated their injuries, further added to their trauma, e.g. instead of using water to flush out the toxic acid, oil was used by medical personnel. In other cases vital first aid, which could prevent permanent and life threatening injuries, was not administered at all. It is imperative that medical professionals know how to treat the victims.
The police also often exacerbate the trauma of the victims. As with other gender-based crimes they often side with the perpetrator and attempt to intimidate and harass the victim at the behest of the accused. In one instance, the police instead of arresting the accused ransacked the beauty parlour of the victim, trespassed into her email account and commented on her private affairs.
Similarly, judges overlook the seriousness of the offence and firstly allow bail to the accused when they can further intimidate the victim and secondly give extremely lenient sentences when they are ultimately found guilty. Further displaying insensitivity to the type of offence that has been perpetrated on the victim, the manner in which the judicial system functions results in the conduct of long protracted trials.
It is evident that acid attacks can be described as one of the grossest violations of human rights of women in Indian society today. Women have the right under International Human Rights Law, specifically the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, 1980 (CEDAW) to be free from such violent attacks. Furthermore numerous rights guaranteed under the Indian Constitution are violated when acid attacks are perpetrated against women. Article 14, equal protection of the law is routinely violated when police fail to conduct a timely investigation and harass the victims instead of investigating the crime. Article 15(3) guarantees the state to make special provision to women and children but the state government has failed in this by not making any provisions or schemes for the welfare of acid attack victims and their children.
The petition therefore prays that:
· An amendment be made in the Indian Penal Code, Evidence Act and the Criminal Procedure Code for dealing with acid attack as a special offence;
· Guidelines be framed and an act be passed to attend to the needs of all the acid attack victims in India;
· A committee be constituted and appointed for adopting measures for the proper treatment, aftercare and rehabilitation of the victims of acid attacks;
· That acid in all forms be made a scheduled banned chemical which is not readily available over the counter.
· Bail should not be granted for the accused and should treat the case as such to murder since this kind of violence is a threat to humanity.
The victims suffer a great deal due to a slow judicial process, inadequate compensation and obviously from the after affect of the acid attack itself. Thus, there is an urgent need to legislate distinct sections in the I.P.C to deal with acid attacks and to setup a Criminal Injuries Compensation Board in India to deal with such cases in an effective and efficient manner, to help the victims of acid attack to get compensation for medical expenses and rehabilitation.
This petition closed on February 28, 2013.
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Acid attacks are becoming a growing phenomenon in India. Though acid attack is a crime which can be committed against any man or woman, it has a specific gender dimension in India. Most of the reported acid attacks have been committed on women, particularly young women for spurning suitors, for rejecting proposals of marriage, for denying dowry etc. The attacker cannot bear the fact that he has been rejected and seeks to destroy the body of the woman who has dared to stand up to him. Thus, acid throwing is an extremely violent crime by which the perpetrator of the crime seeks to inflict severe physical and mental suffering on his victim. As stated above this kind of violence is often motivated by deep-seated jealousy or feelings of revenge against a woman.
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