I could quote the law on acid attacks in India and then break it down for you but I want to make this as simple to understand as possible because you need to understand this. I don’t want to give you a long statistic that your going to forget in 5 mins. India’s judicial system is slow in its implementation of the law and in most cases this implementation is not even visible. Every acid attack victim in India is entitled upto Rs.3 Lakh in compensation from the government. Not only is this amount inadequate but in most cases this compensation is not even released because it is such a lengthy process. If the government thinks that a girl who has just suffered grievous burns is in a state to fight in the court of law for her own right then they couldn’t be wrong. Should her family be in the hospital taking care of her or running from lawyer to court to lawyer to hospital to court to get money for her treatment? Even though the amount is inadequate its no lie that if this money is received in time, it saves the family selling various properties in order to just get the initial first aid.
The government also offers free of cost treatment in some government hospitals in certain states BUT the fact is that a lot of these hospitals are not equipped to deal with such specific chemical burns. The first few surgeries in the lives of an acid attack victim are most crucial. These surgeries decide if the victim will regain her vision, sets the foundation for further reconstruction and decide weather fatal infections can be avoided. Most of the treatments of this calibre are extremely expensive and the hospitals that are supposed to cover these costs are not even half as equipped to handle these complex cases so what’s the point of this law anyway? What the government doesn’t realise also is that this measly amount of Rs. 3 lakh barely even covers costs of surgeries let alone medication. The government doesn’t even have rehabilitation programs set in place for the victim to overcome her trauma.
A VICTIM that has been through such an ordeal needs constant counselling and life guidance/coping classes in order to even have some hope of leading a normal life in the future. The government does nothing about sensitising the public to the issue through which society can rid itself of the stigma that surrounds the cause. Its not like the victims don’t want to go out and lead normal lives, its that the public wont let them forget what happened to them by not providing them with jobs, not letting them roam around in public because of their disfigurement.
The government needs to make more of an effort to spread awareness on the crime so that the public can stop approaching cases of disfigurement with disgust. The government also doesn’t look into rehabilitation, an aspect that is so crucial in order for a victim to overcome what has happened to her. There are no employment schemes set in place, no schemes that provide education or employment skills to victims of acid attacks. The government has to also understand that the victims are not only disfigured but disabled as well.
It is very hard to find employment based on specific needs even if we leave the stigma of disfigurement aside. From my point of view regulating the sale of acid is just another law but when there is no implementation of the current laws then what will assure that a new law will actually work? We need to understand that we live in India, a country where it is easier to procure banned substances than it is to get legal substances.
Where these is a will, there is way and a person that wants to cause harm will always find a way. It is easy to get away with a crime in India because the government lacks in its implementation of the law which makes it easier for criminals to commit crimes because there is no fear of any consequences. You don’t hear of acid attack cases being fast tracked often because they are not.
Only when the government helps us in our fight to spread the awareness, sensitises the public, put in proper infrastructure to help aid the recovery of victims, puts in place employment schemes and rehabilitation programmes, improves the free medical treatment it provides, sets in place fast track courts and actually convicts criminals that have caused the crime and sends out a strong message about the consequences, ONLY then can we start to imagine an end to this easy to commit heinous crime.
Regulating the sale of acid would be brilliant but what good would it do in a country where a victim cannot even get her compensation because she doesn’t even have the funds to afford a lawyer let alone medical bills? It’s a viscous cycle that needs to be stopped in order to give the victims of acid attacks a fighting chance.
Indian Government – we need you! Please help!
Written by Ria Sharma.
Founder at Make Love Not Scars.