Miti Sanjana Khan:
“I threw acid on her as she divorced me. I loved her and wanted to live with her but she denied accepting me,” this is the statement of a demonic husband, who hurled a whole bottle of acid on the face of his ex wife while she was asleep. In the middle of the night she woke up when flammable liquids burning her. She cried out in burning pain and was rolling over the floor out of harrowing pain. She was slipping into shock and couldn’t remember much about her first few hours in the hospital. She always had a lovely smile which filled up her whole face. But the fiery liquid took away her beautiful smile forever by burning her face and body almost entirely. She is one of the thousands of victims of acid attacks that happen almost in every week, somewhere in Bangladesh. Acid attacks in our country have ruined the lives of thousands of innocent young women whose only fault was that they divorced their husbands, refused marriage or love proposals or rejected sexual advances from those men.
In 2002 the Parliament enacted two acts, the Acid Control Act 2002 and the Acid Crime Prevention Acts 2002 (1st and 2nd Act), to control acid crimes by mandating rigorous punishment ranging from between three years and fifteen years and a hefty fine to life imprisonment to a maximum statement of death penalty. The variations of punishment depend on gravity of injury inflicted by the accused.
As per the Act, if there is loss of hearing, sight or damage to the person’s face, sexual organs, the punishment is death penalty or life imprisonment. If any other body parts are maimed punishment shall range between 7 and 14 years imprisonment. If person assists to commit the crime of acid throwing, he/she will receive the same punishment as the perpetrators. The Acid Control Act of 2002 has provisions to control ‘the import, production, transportation, hoarding, sale and use of acid. The Act punishes the unlicensed production, import, transport, storage, sale and use of acid by giving imprisonment of three to ten years and a fine of up to taka fifty thousand.
Social boycott and discrimination of the girls with disfigurement, is not less painful than any physical injury inflicted on them by an acid attack. Along with social boycott, they face the biggest battle from friends, relatives and neighbours. Many young girls doused with acid and disfigured endured slow and painful deaths, many of them are maimed and confined to homes for lifetime. Many face long medical battle. It is also very expensive to bear the cost of surgeries needed to reconstruct the damaged face. Acid attack is perhaps the crudest displays of brutality.
Although laws exist to restrict the sale of acids in Bangladesh but it is easily available. The law has some provisions to provide treatment support to the victims of acid violence, rehabilitation and legal support. However, the reconstruction surgeries cannot give her “beautiful” looking face back. The victims of acid attacks are overwhelmingly women. This is an extreme form of violence against a woman that devalues her as individual and human being.
Men believe woman has a minimal say in her future and life. Violence crosses all social classes, ethnic groups and religions. The men in almost all patriarchal societies consider girls and women to be their properties. A woman is constantly asked to adjust her behaviour to meet the needs of patriarchal society. This is taught in the family and society to obey men like a master rathen than a life partner. Deviation from so called traditional norms and expectations created by male dominant society, taking one’s own decision, rejecting marriage or love proposal, leaving a marriage are the cause for which men cause such barbarous violence on women.
The victim’s husband said he doused acid on her because he loved her but she did not agree to continue the marriage. Man in our society marries a girl with the assumption that the wife would make all the adjustments, sacrifices and she would generously offer love and affection without having any expectations of receiving the same in return. But most of the men do not even realize that marriage is a mutual affair and a two way-street. The woman’s desires and preferences are equally important for the welfare of a family. A woman should be respected only because she is “a human “. Blaming a woman, in some form or the other for taking her own decision is a regressive mentality. As younger and progressive generation, we must try to broaden our mind by respecting her decision regarding her own fate.
The writer is an Advocate, Supreme Court of Bangladesh and a column activist.
Article Reproduced from Media Source