Acid attacks, a gender biased heinous crime has become a mental threat to the women’s security of the entire world. In the patriarchal society, women were always considered inferior and were treated in a very bad manner subject to the non-compliance of men’s commands.
The two respective territories of India and Bangladesh, share the same historical background in terms of male chauvinistic society. Following the year of 1999, acid attacks increased at a very high pace in Bangladesh, however, the first instance of acid attack in Bangladesh occurred in the year 1967. Acid attack is basically meant to disfigure or destroy the victim in order to take revenge from the person concerned. Since, in a patriarchal society, dignity and respect of males is of utmost importance, therefore, whenever their dignity and self-respect is infringed by a mere proposal refusal or marriage refusal by a woman, they administer acid on their faces as beauty of a woman is considered to be one of most important assets for a woman. Acid attack survivors are mentally, physically, emotionally and socially traumatised for the rest of their lives in such a manner that they are not able to live their life ahead with the previous attitude. They develop hatred towards oneself and blame themselves only for being the victims of acid attacks. A mere proposal or marriage proposal by a woman cost them for the rest of their lives.
Even, there have been various instances wherein husband throw acid on the face of the wife aggressively in light of the fact that the ‘bride price’ has not been provided to him despite consistent reminders and trials on his part. Sometimes, out of aggression, husband administer acid on the face of his wife in case of a marital dispute without realising the fact that marital disputes can be resolved, however, disfigurement caused by the acid administration cannot be reversed. In India also, following the year of 2010, acid attacks have been consistently increasing despite legal amendments. Since, India and Bangladesh share a common historical background, therefore, women of India suffer from acid attacks because of the patriarchal nature of the society wherein males’ dignity is considered to be of prime importance and cannot be challenged. Marriage or proposal refusal by a woman to a man challenges their manly ego and provides grievous injuries to their dignity and self-respect. Although dowry has been prohibited in India, there have been instances wherein women are acid attacked for refusal of dowry or non-payment of dowry by the bride’s family. In Bangladesh, incidences of acid attacks increased at an exponential rate in the years 1999-2002 with the prominent reason being marriage or proposal refusal.
In the year 2002, acid attacks raised to such an extent that approximately 500 incidences were reported annually. However, there may have been incidences which may not have been reported even. To curb this alarming situation, Bangladesh’s Legislature came up with two separate acts dealing with acid violence namely the Acid Offence Prevention Act, 2002 and the Acid Control Act, 2002 wherein the former deals with the definition of the crime and the punishment accordingly whereas the latter deals with the sale, purchase, transportation of the acid. Since the implementation of these acts, there have been a significant decline in the acid attack rate, however, there are few flaws with the implementation of these acts. Similarly, with the rising incidences of acid attacks in India and to provide it with a separate status under the Indian Penal Code, the same have been amended in order to include the crime of acid violence accompanied with separate provisions for punishment. However, the incidences of acid attack in India are continually rising. A crime can be curbed by apportioning a proportional punishment taking into consideration the frequency of the crime committed. Since, the incidences of acid attacks increased to such an extent in Bangladesh and they occupied the apex row in the list of the crimes in the chronological order of frequency, therefore, punishment for acid attack perpetrators was extended to capital punishment.
However, in India, since acid violence is not given much importance, therefore, life imprisonment is provided to the acid attack perpetrators in the ‘rarest of the rare’ cases. Due to lack of severity of punishment in India, the incidences of acid attack have not been controlled.Despite legal enactments and amendments in the two respective territories, acid violence have not been totally eliminated from the society. To ascertain the reason for the existence of acid attacks, there is a need to recognise the flaws in the legal acts. Acid attacks cannot be eliminated merely by the strict implementation of the legal acts.
In a society, acid violence can be extinguished with the overthrowing of male chauvinism and establishment of gender equality not only in law but only in the mentality of the people. Awareness campaigns must be organized to make people aware of plight of the acid attack victims and also to familiarise people with the law governing the concerned crime. To introduce total elimination, there is a need to put women at par with men in all spheres of life and also to empower them in the society in such a manner that their dignity is respected.