STOP ACID ATTACKS & SUPPORT THE VICTIMS
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In recent times, Acid Attacks have emerged as a weapon against woman in India. It is one of the most brutal forms of attack, which is used to crush a woman’s identity and dignity. More than just an individual problem, affecting the face and eye (including blindness), it is a societal issue that can broadly affect economic productivity and access to education, leading survivors to live in isolation. The situation becomes worse as many victims are not able to receive proper treatment, due to monetary issues, low morale, and lack of proper support system. It is important for us to come together and help these acid attack survivors in all possible ways and defeat the purpose of attackers altogether.
On November 25, we observed the International Day for the elimination of violence against Women. According to data released by NCRB, in 5 years (from 2014 to 2018), India witnessed 1483 cases of acid attack incidents. This figure is highly likely to be underreported as States like Bihar and U.P have lower rates of reported crimes against women. Acid is known to be a very potent weapon of offense and assault, especially against women and minors. Girls and women account for more than 85 percent of victims.
Victims of acid attacks are entitled to compensation under various schemes like NALSA's Compensation Scheme for Women Victims/Survivors of Sexual Assault/other Crimes, 2018, additional compensation of INR 1 lakh under Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund, compensation paid by the respective State/UTs in terms of Central Victim Compensation Fund. Despite all these funds, victims are not able to access the benefits and end up spending a heavy amount, towards their medical expenses, from their own pocket; creating pressure on their economic conditions.
NALSA's scheme provides compensation ranging from INR 3 to 8 lakh depending on the severity of the case. It aims to pay compensation as expeditiously as possible. However, according to data till October 20, out of 1,273 cases of acid attack across the country compensation has been given to acid attack survivors in just 474 cases. This figure is based on the cases of acid attack registered on the website of the National Commission for Women (NCW) Management Information System (MIS).
Additionally, the NCW in a recent statement said that States/UTs delay in filing charge sheets, as most cases do not mention dates, the status of investigation or progress of the prosecution or any records of the cases; hence the delay in updates indicates that cases are not dealt properly in the interest of the survivors. The number of cases updated to date on the NCW’s MIS was not adequate, as the numbers of the cases reported across the country and in states do not match with the commission’s MIS data.
The conviction rates in the cases of violence against women have been extremely, revealing the commitment of authorities, police, and courts. In 2016, 2.45 percent cases (10 cases out of 407 cases) resulted in a conviction, as compared to 3.39 percent cases (15 cases out of 442) in 2017 and 3.36 percent cases (19 cases out of 523) in 2018.
In 2013, the Supreme Court of India banned the sale of acid through open counters. The guidelines require the seller and purchaser to have a license and shops selling acid must maintain a record of sale and purchase. However, after 6 years of the ban, there are various shops still selling acid on-demand without following the directives. We can not directly stop acid attackers , but we can definitely stop acid sale and support the victims. Let us come together and fight against this menace.
In the light of the above, we need your support in demanding the following from the Central Government (Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Women & Child Development, NALSA), and respective State Governments/UTs and State and District Legal Services -
1. Expediting payments and medical assistance under the various national and state compensation schemes including NALSA’s to the acid attack victims.
2. Fastracking and properly reporting the cases so that there is no delay in filing the charge sheets and investigation.
3. All states/UTs must appoint a nodal officer who must instruct the police authorities to take such cases as a priority.
4. Stricter implementation and checking of the SC regulation on acid sale, with the regular audit of licenses, seller and buyer identity, the purpose of the purchase, etc.
Petition by: Abhishek Sethi , Kunal Pant & Suganda Sharma (Students of IIM Ahmedabad )
1. Alok Dixit, Founder member of Stop Acid Attacks and Save Your Voice
2. Chhanv Foundation, NPO working for the rehabilitation of acid attack survivors (https://www.chhanv.org/
3. Arundhati Dhuru, Women's Right Activist
4. Sandeep Pandey, Ph.D., UC Berkeley; Visiting Faculty, IIT Kanpur, IIT Gandhinagar, BHU Varanasi, IIM Ahmedabad (Social Activist)
Links for Reference:
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