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Preventing acid attacks in Kashmir

August 24, 2023

Acid attacks on women are one of the most heinous and devastating forms of violence that continue to haunt our society. It is a tragedy that, in the 21st century, we are still confronted with this horrifying and deeply disturbing phenomenon. A Srinagar court on Tuesday sentenced two convicts to life imprisonment for attacking a law student with acid in Nowshera in 2014. Apart from life imprisonment, Principal Sessions Judge Jawad Ahmed also imposed a fine of ₹ 5 lakh each on the two convicts, Irshad Ahmad Wani @ Sunny and Mohammad Umar Noor. The court awarded the life sentence after noting that the “horrific act” of the convicts was not a spontaneous one, but rather a “well thought of, well planned and an organized act.” It also noted that photographs of the victim from before and after the attack themselves speak of the extent of damage caused by the attack. This has not only caused physical trauma, but also mental trauma to the victim, the Court said. Even as justice was delivered nine years after the incident, one can hope it serves as a deterrent against the horrific crime of throwing acid on young women. First and foremost, it is essential to recognize the profound physical and psychological trauma that acid attacks inflict upon their victims. The corrosive nature of acid not only causes excruciating pain but often leaves survivors with disfigured faces and bodies, permanent disabilities, and severe emotional scars. The consequences of an acid attack extend far beyond the initial act of violence, affecting every aspect of a survivor’s life, from their physical health to their mental well-being, their relationships, and their ability to earn a livelihood. The motives behind acid attacks are diverse, ranging from revenge and jealousy to rejected advances and misguided notions of honor. Regardless of the reason, these crimes are abhorrent and unacceptable. It is vital that we challenge the toxic social norms that perpetuate such violence and promote a culture of respect, equality, and empathy. To combat acid attacks effectively, several key steps must be taken. Governments must enact and enforce stringent laws specifically targeting acid attacks. These laws should ensure swift and severe punishment for perpetrators and offer comprehensive support for survivors, including access to medical treatment, psychological counseling, and financial assistance. Public awareness campaigns are crucial in educating communities about the gravity of acid attacks and the need to prevent them. Schools, universities, and communities should actively engage in dialogue to challenge stereotypes and misconceptions that contribute to these crimes. Survivor-centric support systems should be established, providing not only medical and psychological care but also assistance with rehabilitation, education, and employment opportunities. It is essential to empower survivors to rebuild their lives and regain their self-esteem. Strict regulations on the sale and purchase of acid are imperative. In addition to these concrete steps, society must challenge and change the harmful stereotypes and attitudes that enable such violence. We must foster a culture of respect for women and gender equality, teaching our children that violence in any form is unacceptable.

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