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Acid Violence

What is Acid Violence?
Acid violence is a particularly vicious and damaging form of violence in Bangladesh where acid is thrown in people’s faces. The overwhelming majority of the victims are women, and many of them are below 18 years of age. The victims are attacked for many reasons. In some cases it is because a young girl or women has spurned the sexual advances of a male or either she or her parents have rejected a proposal of marriage. Recently, however, there have been acid attacks on children, older women and also men. These attacks are often the result of family and land dispute, dowry demands or a desire for revenge.

Consequences of Acid Violence
Acid is highly corrosive chemical has a catastrophic effect on human flesh. It causes the skin tissue to melt, often exposing the bones, sometimes even dissolving the bone. When acid attacks the eyes, it damages them permanently. Many acid attack survivors have lost the use of one or both eyes. But the scars left by acid are not just skin deep. Many survivors suffer from psychological breakdown including identity crisis because of their lost and distorted appearance. Most stop their education or work during the lengthy recovery period or beyond, due to disfigurement. Survivors often face social isolation which further damage their self esteem and socio-economic status, even position in their own family. An unmarried woman attacked with acid is very unlikely to get married ever. The acid survivor is not the only one affected. Parents, siblings and other relatives often incur a huge economic, social and psychological burden in caring for the survivor. Instances were reported where families sold their land and assets to pay for medical care. Many are forced to leave their house and village, due to fear of safety, especially for fear of retaliation against legal action. In the cases, where victims are children or adolescents, special physical and psycho-social supports are needed for them as they grow and mature with these incurable scars. In the worst type of acid violence when a daughter is attacked by her father she may completely lose trust in men and in all forms of human relationship including marriage.

Reasons for acid attack
Acid violence reflects gender inequality and discrimination in society. Often acid attacks are perpetrated against women because they transgress conventional norms that relegate women to subordinate positions. Indeed, a significant portion of attacks occur when a woman exercises decision-making power by rejecting a marriage or "love" proposal. Acid attackers aim for a woman’s face in an attempt to destroy what many members of society consider to be one of her most important assets—her beauty. Majority of female victims are between 13 to 35 years of age. Most acid attacks are perpetrated by the people known to the victims and the attacks are often triggered by refusal to sexual advances or marriage proposals or failure to pay dowry or by land disputes. Historically, a vast majority of attacks are against women, with 99% of the perpetrators being men. In recent years there has been an increase in crimes staged against men too, mostly related to the disputes over land and other property. One fourth of the reported victims are children. There were reports that father showered his own daughter with acid as he wanted a boy child. Sometimes, children get hurt as they stay close to the main targets (mothers).