Acid attack victims failed by lack of a cohesive law, legal process

Source: The post is based on the articleAcid attack victims failed by lack of a cohesive law, legal processpublished in The Hindu on 4th January 2023

What is the News?

Activists have been calling for strict curbs on acid sales to curb the incidents of acid attacks.

What is the data on acid attack cases in India?

Acid attack cases: According to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, in 2011, there were 83 acid attacks. By 2021, it grew to 176 (though down from 249 in 2019).

State wise: West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh consistently record the highest numbers of acid attacks, generally accounting for nearly 50% of all cases in the country year on year. 

Conviction rate: In 2021, 153 men were charge-sheeted for acid attacks. Merely seven have been convicted.

Majority victims are women: A study by Nalanda University in 2019 showed that in a majority of cases, acid attack victims are women who have resisted persistent declarations of “love” or proposals of marriage.

Most cases in rural areas: According to the Sheroes Hangout, most acid attacks take place in rural or semi-rural areas though those that get highlighted in the media are almost always from the cities.

– Note: Sheroes Hangout is a cafe and community in India set up by the Chhanv Foundation and run by survivors of acid attacks. The cafe aims to increase awareness of acid attacks and empower acid attack survivors. There are currently two cafe locations in Agra and Lucknow.

Are there any laws to punish acid attack cases in India?

In India, the National Commission for Women floated a draft Prevention of Offences (by Acid) Bill in 2008, but it failed to see the light of the day.

However, following the Nirbhaya gang rape case and the Justice Verma Commission report in 2013, the Union government amended the Indian Penal Code recognising acid attacks as a separate offence with a minimum punishment of 10 years and a maximum of life imprisonment.

Read here: What is the law on acid attacks in India?
Why are acid attack cases rising in India?

Many activists say the lack of cohesive legislation in regulating the sale of acids and in ensuring punishment for perpetrators is probably the chief reason for the rise in acid attacks.

They give the example of Bangladesh where acid attacks came down drastically after the government brought in two laws dedicated to the control and prevention of this crime.

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