An acid attack involves the premeditated throwing of acid on a victim, usually on her face. In addition to causing psychological trauma, acid attacks result in severe pain, permanent disfigurement, subsequent infections, and often blindness in one or both eyes. Perpetrators commit acid attacks for a number of reasons, including revenge for refusal of a marriage proposal or other romantic or sexual advances; land disputes; perceived dishonor; and jealousy. While acid attacks are most prevalent in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India and Pakistan, they have also been reported in Afghanistan and in parts of Africa and Europe. Experts attribute the prevalence of the practice in part to the easy availability of acids. (See: Statistics, Cambodian Acid Survivors Charity; Good Practices on Harmful Practices Expert Group Report, p. 22)
(See: Good Practices on Harmful Practices Expert Group Report, pp. 22-23)
In 2002, the Bangladeshi Government passed two Acts, the Acid Control Act 2002 and the Acid Crime Prevention Act 2002. The Acts address punishment of those involved in the acid attack itself and restrict the import and sale of acid in open markets.
Some important features of the laws include:
The Cambodian Law on Regulating Concentrate Acid passed in November 2011 and came in to force December 2011. This law criminalizes acid violence provides regulations and controls for all forms of concentrate acid. The law provides an extensive definition of the term “concentrate acid” with an ability to supplement the list by sub-decree in the future. In addition, regulates the import, transport, distribution, retail, and storage of acid by requiring a license or permission letter issued by the relevant Ministry allowing such uses. In addition to criminalizing and individual’s intentional use of acid to harm or kill others, the law provides for the criminal liability of legal entities in relation to unintentional death or injury caused by the entities’ negligence or carelessness in securing the acid they possess. The law also directs state-owned health centers to provide medical treatment free of charge and indicates that the state will provide legal support for victims of acid attacks.
In February 2013, the law was reinforced by Sub-Decree N.48 on Formalities and Conditions of Control of Concentrated Acid. Sub-Decree 48 is an additional document to the law and aims to clarify the formalities and conditions for sale, purchase, storage, transportation, packaging, carrying and use of all forms of strong acid. Provisions set forth requirements for sellers, distributors and purchasers of strong acids including, the recording of all information on the purchase or sale in the register book and the presentation of an identification card and/or license or other authorization stating the professional occupation relevant to the use of strong acid. In order to prevent access to disposed of acid, the document also clarifies how to deal with waste and remains of packaging materials which was not defined in the main law.
(See: Law on Regulating Concentrate Acid, Sub-Decree N.48 on Formalities and Conditions of Control of Concentrated Acid, Punishment fitting the crime: Effectively punishing and combatting acid violence in Cambodia through the creation and enforcement of a law).
Punishment Fitting the Crime: Effectively punishing and combatting acid violence in Cambodia through the creation and enforcement of a law , Cambodian Center for Human Rights - January 2012
Ending the Cycle of Impunity for Acid Crimes in Cambodia,Cambodian Center for Human Rights - May 2012
In December, 2011, Pakistan passed the Acid Control and Acid Crime Prevention (Amendment) Act, 2010. The Act amended Pakistan’s Penal Code to include the terms “disfigure” and “deface” which are explained as “disfigurement of face or disfigurement of any organ or any part of the organ of the human body which impairs or injures or corrodes or deforms the symmetry or appearance of the person.” In addition, the Penal Code was amended to include the following sections:
336A. Hurt caused by corrosive substance. Whoever with the intention or knowingly causes or attempts to cause hurt by means of a corrosive substance or any substance which is deleterious to human body when it is swallowed, inhaled, comes in to contact or received into human body or otherwise shall be said to sauce hurt by corrosive substance:
Explanation: In this sub-section, unless the context otherwise requires, “corrosive substance” means a substance which may destroy, cause hurt, deface or dismember any organ of the human body and includes every kind of acid, poison, explosive or explosive substance, noxious thing, arsenic or any other chemical which has a corroding effect and which is deleterious to human body.
336B. Punishment for hurt by corrosive substance. Whoever causes hurt by corrosive substance shall be punished with imprisonment for life or imprisonment of either description which shall not be less than fourteen years and a minimum fine of million rupees.
In December, 2012, The Acid Throwing and Burn Crime Bill, 2012 was submitted for further deliberations. The Acid Throwing and Burn Crime Bill, 2012 expands upon the Acid Control and Acid Crime Prevention (Amendment) Act, 2010 and proposes the following specific definition of acid attack: “any act or omission, caused by corrosive substance/acid to be thrown or administered in any form on the victim with the intention that such person is likely to cause to the other person permanent or partial damage/injury or deformity or disfigurement to any part of the body or organ or cause death of such victim.” In addition to providing extensive definitions including broad inclusion of a variety of corrosive substances, the bill provides guidelines for investigation, protection of witnesses, as well as the recognition of medical, legal, and finanicail support for victims and their dependents. The bill criminalizes an attempt to commit an Acid Crime and imposes liability to officers for negligence or improper investigations. To promote implementation of its terms, the bill establishes the Acid and Burn Crime Monitoring Board and describes its role and responsibilities. The bill also provides for government funding for the Board’s functioning.
(See: Pro-Women laws take hold in Pakistan, UN Women, 26 March 2012; Women-specific bills passed: Fourteen-year jail term for acid-throwers, The Express Tribune – International Herald Tribune, 12 December 2012; Switching to life terms: MPs backtrack on death penalty plea for acid attackers, The Express Tribune – International Herald Tribune, 23 December 2012; Acid crimes show no letting up on women in Pakistan, Women News Network, 3 May 2013.)
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