A WORLDWIDE PROBLEM

Acid attacks happen across the world and it affects women disproportionally. Although it is also unacceptable when acid violence occurs against men, acid violence is a form of violence that has a disproportionate impact on women. It reflects and perpetuates discrimination of women and girls in society, as such it is prohibited by international law. However, all too often it’s a crime that goes unreported and unpunished: survivors of acid attacks live in fear of reprisals for reporting the attack.

A MESSAGE FROM JAF SHAH, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

COUNTRY FILES

GENDER BASED VIOLENCE

1500 RECORDED ATTACKS EVERY YEAR

80% OF ATTACKS ARE ON WOMEN

Violence against women and girls is the most widespread form of systematic abuse worldwide, affecting one third of all women in their lifetime. Preventing violence against women and girls is a development goal in its own right, and important in achieving better lives for individual women, their families and greater development progress for communities and nations.

60%

ESTIMATED AMOUNT OF ATTACKS THAT GO UNREPORTED EACH YEAR

Acid and burns violence, like other forms of violence against women and girls, both reflect and perpetuate the inequality of women in society.  Whilst there is limited information on the numbers of acid and burns attacks in ASTI’s focus countries, which appear to be in the hundreds, there is no doubt as to the devastating and lifelong consequences for the women and girls who experience it.  Acid attacks cause immediate damage, disfigurement, pain and long-lasting medical complications for victims.  Significant surgery is required by acid burns victims, as well as long-term support and rehabilitation.  In addition, victims of acid and burns violence suffer psychological trauma, economic and social ostracism.

0
%

INCREASE IN ACID VIOLENCE IN THE UK OVER THE LAST 10 YEARS

A  literature review shows the global nature of the problem of acid-based violence and reinforces that it is not confined to particular regions, religions or cultures. It also highlights that the cause and characteristics of burn injuries vary widely across the globe, with significant age and gender differences of victims among countries (Dissanaike and Rahimi 2009). An estimated 90% of global burn injuries occur in developing countries, with huge associated social and economic costs (Atiyeh, Costagliola et al. 2009).

 

It is difficult to gauge the true scale and prevalence of the issue for a number of reasons. Victims of acid and burns violence often do not report the true cause of the injuries out of shame or fear. Most developing countries do not have a comprehensive national system for recording and monitoring burn injuries. Furthermore, where there are resources available, these are usually focused in urban areas, leading to greater under-reporting in rural areas (Dissanaike and Rahimi 2009). People may never present themselves to hospitals for treatment, so their cases go unrecorded, or there may be large areas of the country that are remote or in conflict (as is the case for Uganda) where there may not be medical facilities or relevant NGOs who might collect data are not working for security reasons.

 

In international law, states have a due diligence obligation to prevent such violence from occurring, to protect victims, to punish perpetrators, and to provide compensation to those who have suffered from it. Former UN Special Rapporteurs on (a) Torture & Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Mr. Manfred Nowak) and (b) Violence against Women, Its Causes and Consequences (Professor Yakin Ertürk) have recently (2010 and 2011 respectively) commented on the linkages of acid violence to torture and Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) and there is an emerging attention to this crime on the international agenda.

 

The main research on acid violence to date has been undertaken through ASTI and its partners through a programme funded by the UN Trust Fund. Initial findings show that providing redress to victims in the form of ongoing psychosocial and economic support to help them rebuild their lives and to cover healthcare costs is one of the recommendations for governments to address the consequences of acid violence.

 

Another important issue, highlighted by an ASTI study (Justice? What Justice? Tackling acid violence and ensuring justice for survivors), is the need to address the impunity of perpetrators because of the lack of laws criminalising the use of acid as a weapon, lack of implementation of existing laws and the inadequate response of police. In Bangladesh where laws have been stronger since 2002 and additionally there is a law to limit the sale of acid and a public awareness campaign, there is evidence of a drop in the number of cases.

SOCIAL MEDIA

COPYRIGHT

© 2017

Acid Survivors Trust International

 

 

Patron: Her Royal Highness

The Princess Royal