New Delhi: Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi is visiting our neighbouring country Bangladesh tomorrow. Considered a third world country, Bangladesh earned its sovereignty in the year 1971. As a new country in this region, Bangladesh had to tackle many socio-economic, and political disturbance in a short span of time, yet this country has achieved many feats from which India can learn and adopt many lessons.
In India, often incidences of acid attacks grab the headlines of Indian media. Apart from the legal aspects, there are many more question attached to such incidents which are discussed but no firm action is taken.
Acid attack victims are often left to the empathy of others, but what we must learn from these harrowing cases is their brave battle against societal stigma. Such incidences are not limited by geography, social strata, gender or any other factor. In most of the cases, it has been seen that jilted lovers or failed incidences of love affairs has been the reasons behind such heinous crimes.
Around 90-95% of victims of such incidents are women and most of them survive. But the mental trauma continues to haunt them throughout their life. The survivors are always looked down as victims. They are marginalized in the society owing to their physical deformities and accompanying disabilities.
India is among the top three countries having largest number of such incidents. Neighboring country Bangladesh has the highest reported acid assaults in the world. However, India might surpass Bangladesh soon due to the growing number of acid attacks as number of such incidents in latter continues to decline.
Bangladesh government's proactive initiative led to steady decline in number of acid attacks in the Muslim country by 15% to 20% since 2002. As per facts, complied by the Acid Survivors Foundation in Bangladesh, only 91 such incidents were witnessed in the country during 2011. Acid Survivors Foundation is an NGO helping survivors with medical and legal aid.
In combating such evil from society Bangladesh government adopted stringent laws criminalizing acid violence and requiring business users of acid to obtain licenses.
In year 2002, ACCA (Acid Crime Control Act) & ACA (Acid Control Act) laws were introduced by the government. ACCA heightened the penalties and created special court procedures for acid attack cases, while ACA or Acid Control Act helped Bangladeshi government to keep a control, regulate, and monitor the use, sale, purchase, storage, transportation, import, and export of acid in the country.
Learning from Bangladesh, India too must come forward to put an end to acid violence, and for this Indian government and NGOs must address the root cause which is primarily, availability of acid, gender inequality and discrimination, in addition to the core reason which is - impunity of perpetrators.
Even there is greater need of creating awareness about such incidents. Unfortunately, often the acid attack victims fail to get basic first-aid. In most cases, victims and local residents lack knowledge to treat burns and it becomes the first major failure in helping the victim.
Victim must be helped in rinsing thoroughly and completely the areas with water to neutralize the acid. Milk, in case of availability, must be continuously poured on their burned area until the vapors of acid start residing.
India as a nation is busy while taking economy lessons from the west and China should also incorporate some learning from underdeveloped countries like Bangladesh to curb the menace of acid attacks.