ASTI is a UK registered not-for-profit charity and the only international organisation whose sole purpose is to end acid violence at a global level. ASTI was founded in 2002 and has worked with a network of six local partners in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Uganda that it has helped to form. ASTI has helped provide medical expertise and training to our partners, conducted valuable evidence based research, raised valuable funds to support survivors of acid attacks and helped change laws.
Acid violence is a particularly vicious form of premeditated violence, where acid is thrown usually at the face to disfigure, maim and blind. The targets are mostly women and girls.
Acid causes the skin and flesh tissue to melt, often exposing and dissolving the bones below. Survivors face permanent disfigurement and often social isolation - devastating their self-esteem and psychological wellbeing. A survivor needs immediate specialist medical treatment, sanctuary, reconstructive surgery, follow up physiotherapy, counselling and long-term support to rebuild their life. A survivor often requires dozens of surgical procedures. Child victims require extra long-term specialist care from paediatric surgeons (reconstructive and ophthalmic), physiotherapists and counsellors – specialist skills that are often lacking in many countries in which acid violence is prevalent.
Every year thousands of people across the world are subjected to deliberate and pre-meditated attacks with Nitric, Hydrochloric or Sulphuric Acid. Attacks often occur as a result of domestic or land disputes, a violent act of revenge towards a girl or woman rejecting a marriage proposal or spurned sexual advances. During an attack children are often in close proximity to their mother and as a result suffer burns. Sadly children are also deliberate targets of attacks.
Attacks are most common in societies with unequal relations between men and women, and where the rule of law is weak. The easy availability of acid, such as Nitric or Sulphuric Acid used in manufacturing and processing cotton and rubber, contributes to incidents of acid violence in many countries.
Acid attacks are a worldwide phenomenon that are not restricted to a particular race, religion or geographical location. They occur in many countries in South-East Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, the West Indies and the Middle East, and there is anecdotal evidence of attacks in other regions. In many countries acid attacks constitute a hidden form of violence against women and children that often goes unreported, and the true number of horrific attacks taking place has only come to light after in-depth research by ASTI and its partners.
ASTI’s role is to:
ASTI has partnered and received grants from the United Nations, the British Government and numerous Foundations on delivering medical, legal, awareness raising, advocacy, rehabilitation and livelihood projects in multiple countries including India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Uganda and Cambodia.
Due to our expertise and knowledge ASTI’s advice was sought by the Colombian government in its efforts to end acid violence and support survivors in 2014 and 2015.
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Photography by Ann-Christine Woehrl