Acid attacks on the rise in Bengaluru in past 4 years

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Karnataka Has Fewer Cases Than Other States

Cases of acid attack in Bengaluru have registered an increase in the past four years, according to an organization that works for survivors.

“There has been a rise in acid attacks,” according to Pragya Singh, founder of Atijeevan Foundation, an NGO that has been fighting for the empowerment and rehabilitation of acid attack survivors.

“Now since media are vigilant, the public is getting to know what is going on. Each one of these cases is reported. Earlier, it was not reported because people were unaware of laws. The offenders thought they could harm anyone and flee. But the situation has changed. More victims are coming forward (to report attacks),” she added.

But Karnataka has witnessed fewer cases than other major states. A report by Acid Survivors and Women Welfare Foundation says that 27 cases were registered in Karnataka in 2016 – far less than West Bengal (220), Uttar Pradesh (213) and Delhi (141).

Madhya Pradesh had 69 cases and Gujarat 39 during the year. Data for 2017 is unavailable.

Receiving proper medical treatment remains a huge challenge.

“Victims have to undergo many painful surgeries. The number of surgeries depends on the percentage of burn and kind of injury. In critical cases, the surgeries get extended to 30 procedures,” Singh said.

Sowmya R, an acid attack victim from Bengaluru, informed The Observer: “There are many unreported cases. Some victims might hide information if the attacker is close to them. It took almost six months for the wound to heal in my case. Luckily, I suffered only minimal injuries.”

According to the Acid Survivors Foundation, acid throwing is a violent assault to disfigure, torture or kill someone. The reason could be vengeance or anger.

While victims suffer lifelong disfigurement, they have high survival rates.  The victims face physical and psychological challenges. They require intervention by psychologists and counsellors at each stage of their physical recovery. The far-reaching effects on their lives impact their psychological, social and economic viability in communities.

Dr Ganapathy RM, who has been performing plastic surgeries in Marathahalli, said: “Most of the attacks are on the face. The extent of damage depends on what acid has been used. If it is a concentrated acid, the burn is more intense as these acids eat away the skin completely. Parts of the body like mouth, ears, skin, lips, eyelids, nose and hair can be severely damaged. Some victims are very strong; others may end up with clinical depression.”

“To curb acid attacks, the sale of acids anywhere and everywhere must be stopped. The law must be tightened and punishment must be severe,” added Sowmya. There were no separate statistics for acid violence cases in India till early 2013 because the criminal law did not recognize it as a separate offence. Following an amendment to the Indian Penal Code in February 2013, incidents of acid attack are now being recorded as a separate offence under Sections 326A and 326B.

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