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Acid Attack: A Curse For Women

The National Crime Records Bureau reported a staggering increase as the number of cases between 2014 and 2018 was 1483 women. Acid attack is a form of gender-based violence against women in which a person usually throws rusty acid on her face to seriously injure her and disrupt her socio-economic life.

This is usually done to avenge the rejection of sexual promotions, affair proposals, etc., in case of domestic violence it is managed by the husband or in-laws seeking dowry, or to show their superiority. According to Acid Survivors Trust International, there are 15,000 cases worldwide and 80% of them involve women as a sex offender. In those cases, the target men are usually the cause of such serious damage to property disputes in India.

The National Crime Records Bureau released a report in 2018 stating that 228 cases of acid attack were reported in India. However, the actual number of cases is likely to exceed 1000 but it was not reported due to fear.

The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 made special provisions for victims of acid attack by inserting Section 326A and Section 326B in the Indian Penal Code, 1860. Offenders convicted under these sections shall be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years with a fine which may extend to life imprisonment; That penalty should cover the medical expenses incurred by the victim.

Section 326a:

Section 326A of the Indian Penal Code provides for punishment for acid attack. The minimum sentence is 10 years in prison. It can extend to life imprisonment with a fine. A separate law was passed to punish offenders in such cases with an amendment to the law on sexual offenses. Such laws have long been demanded by various sections of society to be consistent with the laws of other countries, such as Bangladesh.

Explanation Of 326a:

326A: which causes permanent or partial damage or deformity to any part or parts of the body of a person, or burns or cripples or disables or causes serious injury by throwing acid on or throwing acid on or using that person. By any other means or knowing that he is likely to cause such injury or harm, he shall be punished with imprisonment of any description not less than ten years but which may extend to life imprisonment. And with fines:

However, such a penalty would be fair and just to cover the medical costs of the victim's treatment:

It is further provided that any penalty imposed under this section will be paid to the victim.
Explanation 1. For the purposes of this section, "acid" includes any substance having an acidic or damaged character or burning nature, capable of inflicting bodily injury which leads to scarring or deformity or temporary or permanent disability.

Explanation 2. For the purposes of this section, permanent or partial damage or distortion does not have to be reversible.

Section 326b:

Section 326B of the Indian Penal Code provides for punishment for attempted acid attack. The minimum sentence is 5 years in prison. He could face up to 7 years in prison with a fine. A separate law was passed to punish the offenders in such cases with an amendment to the law on sexual offenses.

Explanation Of 326b:

326B: Anyone who throws or attempts to throw acid at any person or attempts to give acid to any person or attempts to use any other means, permanent partial damage or burn disorder or disability or deformity or disability or severe person Injury will be punishable by imprisonment for any description not less than five years, but up to seven years and may be punishable by a fine.

Explanation 1. For the purposes of section 326A and this section, "acid" includes any substance which is acidic or decaying or burns, capable of inflicting bodily injury which may lead to scarring or deformity or temporary or permanent disability. Goes.

Explanation 2. Section 326A and for the purposes of this section, permanent or partial damage or distortion does not have to be reversible.

Essentials:
  • Throwing/attempting to throw/administering acid
  • Causing grievous hurt
  • Causes permanent or partial damage (burns, maims, disfigures or disables)
This offence is a cognizable and non-bailable offence.

Compensation Under Crpc:

The heinous crime of acid attack is prosecuted not only by the IPC and the Indian Evidence Act but also by the relevant provisions of the CrPC. These provisions are contained in Section 375A of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and contain six important sub-sections.

Sub-section (1) urges state governments to draw up schemes which provide compensation to the victims of acid attack who are in need of rehabilitation. This should be done under the guidance of the Central Government.

Sub-section (2) indicates that under the recommendation of the court, the District Legal Services Authority or the State Legal Services Authority (depending on the case) may determine the amount of compensation to be provided.

Sub-section (3) states that in the discretion of the court, if the compensation for the rehabilitation of the victim appears unsatisfactory, or in the case of acquittal or acquittal of the accused, the court may still recommend the necessary compensation.

Sub-section (4) further discusses the rights granted to victims. He talks about cases where the alleged culprit cannot be traced or absconded, but can be identified. In such a case, the victim may make a written request seeking compensation from the state or district legal services authority.

Sub-section (5) further discusses the proper exercise of the rights specified in sub-section (4). It authorizes the state or district legal services authority to allow compensation to the victim after conducting a proper investigation.

Finally, sub-section (6) provides that the state or district legal services authority should endeavor to provide free medical treatment to the victim, provided that the victim succeeds in obtaining a certificate from a police officer not less than the area magistrate.

Further Section 357B of the CrPC specifies that the compensation referred to in the preceding section shall be in addition to the compensation already provided under section 326A and section 326B of the IPC. Section 357C of the CrPC commands all hospitals to provide free emergency first aid treatment to any type of victim (local, public, private, etc.).


Victims Of An Acid Attack In India Say A New Law Banning Sales Is Being Ignored:

December 5, 2013: In this photo, acid attack victims, left, Lakshmi, 24, Chanchal, 19 and Sonam, 16, New Delhi, India, communicate at the office of Indian NGO Stop Acid Attacks. Victims of the acid attack are pushing the Indian government to do more to prevent such violence, saying the new law is being ignored in order to ban the sale of dangerous drugs. Highly concentrated acids are readily available in India for use as household and industrial cleaners.

Treatment And Consequences:

When the acid touches the skin, the response time is crucial. If washed with water or deactivated immediately, burns can be reduced or avoided altogether. However, unprotected areas through the skin, such as the cornea of ​​the eye or the lips, can burn immediately upon contact.

Many victims are attacked in an area without immediate access to water, or are unable to see due to being blind, or are forced to close their eyes to prevent additional burns to the eye. In many developing countries where the incidence is higher, treatment for burn victims remains inadequate.

In addition to inadequate medical capabilities, many acid attack victims fail to report to the police due to a lack of confidence in the force, feelings of frustration over the release of the attacker, and fear of retaliation by the attacker.

These problems are exacerbated by a lack of knowledge of how to treat burns: Some sufferers have applied oil to the acid instead of rinsing it thoroughly with water for 30 minutes or more to neutralize the acid. Such home remedies only serve to increase the severity of the damage, as they do not counteract acidity.

Motivation For Perpetrators:

The intent of the attacker is often to insult rather than kill the victim. In Britain, such attacks, especially against men, are considered to be under-reported, and as a result many of them do not appear in official statistics.

Some of the common motivations of criminals include
  1. Personal conflicts related to intimate relationships and sexual rejection.
  2. Sexual-related jealousy and lust.
  3. Revenge of denial of sexual advances, marriage proposals and dowry demands.
  4. Gang violence and hostility.
  5. Disputes over land ownership, farm animals, habitat and property.
Acid attack often occurs as revenge against a woman who refuses a marriage proposal or sexual advance. Gender inequality and the status of women in society, in relation to men, play an important role in such attacks.

Individuals are also attacked based on their religious beliefs or social or political activities. These attacks can be targeted at a specific person because of their activities or against random individuals simply because they are part of a social group or community.

Important Case Laws:
Lakshmi Vs. Union of India
Case brief
Lakshmi Vs. Union of India (2015) deals with a girl, Lakshmi who was just 16 years old when she suffered an acid attack. The reason for the attack was the refusal of the marriage proposal. Lakshmi was courageous, and in 2006 she filed a PIL in the Supreme Court of India where in addition to seeking compensation, she also sought to enact new laws and amend any law relating to acid attacks in India. She called on the general public to impose a complete ban on the sale of acid in the markets.

The apex court ruled in its favour and directed the governments at the central and state levels to enact legislation after due deliberation and deliberation. Seeing that the governments were not complying with the matter, the Supreme Court took the matter into its own hands and issued guidelines. According to the guidelines, acid should not be sold to anyone under the age of majority i.e. under 18 years of age. Proof of photo identity was mandatory for those wishing to purchase acid.

PiyaliDatta Vs. State of West Bengal
Case brief
In the case law, PiyaliDatta v. West Bengal State (2017) Piyali Dutta filed an application in the High Court as she did not get any compensation despite appealing to the Chief Secretary for compensation after she suffered an acid attack. The West Bengal Legal Services Authority took up the matter and argued that the provisions in CrPC as well as IPC were introduced after her acid attack in 2005 and therefore, she should not be eligible for any compensation. The High Court passed the order in her favour and asked the authority to pay her compensation.

PreetiRathi case
Case brief
Case Law: State v. AnkurPanwar (2019) is related to a 23-year-old nurse working in a hospital in Mumbai. She was approached by the accused for marriage but she turned it down as she wanted to establish her career. He could not handle the denial and threw acid on her while she was traveling in the train. She accidentally swallowed a few drops and suffered fatal injuries. She was hospitalized for a month, but died.

It should be noted that this was a very special case and therefore the hearing by a special court headed by a woman judge, Justice A.S. Shinde. She was shocked that the acid attack was so terrible that it resulted in the death of the victim. Initially, he was sentenced to death under Bangladesh's much-lauded Acid Crime Suspension Act. The death sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment with compensation to the victim's parents.

Conclusion:
The success of any law is determined by its implementation. Acid attacks are on the rise even after stricter provisions were introduced in the IPC against it. Lakshmi Agarwal says, "People say that inner beauty is important, but in reality, only a few people go beyond physical features."

This is true. Acid attack survivors face all sorts of consequences. Physical consequences are not limited to dementia but include other health problems caused by acid fumes. Socially these people face loneliness, negative gaze, sarcasm and other comments. The prospect of marriage fades. They cannot work due to disability and have to depend on others.

Even if they are not disabled, deformities motivate many not to give them a job. Psychologically, they suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and suffer from low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, lack of hope, etc.

In my opinion, India should take inspiration from the Government of Bangladesh and introduce similar acts like the Acid Control Act, 2002 and the Acid Crime Prevention Act, 2002. Some of the main features of these acts are:
  1. Prohibition on import, export and sale of acid.
  2. Special fund for victims known as the Acid Attack Council Fund
  3. Rapid and adequate medical treatment of victims.
  4. Establishment of rehabilitation centers for victims.
These small changes will go a long way in paving the way for a better life for the survivors of acid attack victims. Acid is a very readily available substance and needs immediate regulation. As citizens, it is our collective duty to eradicate this social evil and to end the stigma attached to this crime for the good of the survivors. Certain rules need to be enforced to curb the number of acid attacks in India.

Written By:
  1. Arpan Chakroborty (Techno India University) and
  2. Sohini Seal (Techno India University)

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