NATIONAL LEGAL RESEARCH DESK
In most cases, acid attacks permanently disfigure, debilitate and,eventually, destroy the victim, both physically and psychologically. While many attacks have resulted in slow and painful deaths, cases like that of Haseena (in April 1999) and in other cases have resulted in young women getting disfigured, maimed and confined to homes for life. They continue to battle medical complications as acid seeps into the body and harms internal organs over an extended period of time. The victim needs both short term and long term medical facilities in the form of specialized plastic surgery. But it is almost impossible for the victim’s family to pay for the extensive surgeries needed to reconstruct the damaged face of the victim and thus many of the victims remain like a living corpse. As these surgeries are performed at different stages to give a person a close resemblance to their earlier looks, these operations cost the victim from minimum two lacs to several lacs of rupees.
It has also been observed that there is no scope for rehabilitation for acid survivors and there is no one to provide support. Despite the fact that in most cases the victim knows the violator, the perpetrators often escape the law and are rarely brought to justice under the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Penal Code. Acid attacks can be termed as an act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual, psychological harm or suffering to women. The Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women 1993 stipulates that States should condemn violence against women and pursue by all appropriate means and without delay a policy of eliminating violence against women and, to this end, should:
Develop penal, civil, labour and administrative sanctions in domestic legislation to punish and redress the wrongs caused to women who are subjected to violence;
Ensure, to the maximum extent feasible in the light of their available resources and, where needed, within the framework of international cooperation, that women subjected to violence and, where appropriate, their children have specialized assistance, such as rehabilitation, assistance in child care and maintenance, treatment, counseling, and health and social services, facilities and programmes, as well as support structures, and should take all other appropriate measures to promote their safety and physical and psychological rehabilitation;
Include in government budgets adequate resources for their activities related to the elimination of violence against women; Thus on the basis of the above stated reasons, the proposed law seeks to focus on achieving the following major objectives:-
To assist the victim of acid attack by way of providing for her medical treatment services and also provide social and psychological support.
To arrange rehabilitation mechanisms/schemes taking into account the specific needs of the victim.