Acid Attack: A Call for Legislation

Posted: 31 Jan 2009 Last revised: 17 Mar 2009

Date Written: January 31, 2009


Acid throwing or vitriolage is a form of violent assault. Perpetrators of these attacks throw acid at their victims (usually at their faces), burning them, damaging skin tissue, often exposing and sometimes dissolving the bones. The consequences of these attacks include blindness and permanent scarring of the face and body .The chief target of these attacks are the women.

It is one of the most heinous crimes that can be committed against a human being, which have very severe consequences on the victims. The attacks are clearly and cruelly calculated to permanently disfigure, debilitate and ultimately destroy the person, physically, economically and psychologically. A person burnt by acid is like a living corpse. This type of attack is worse than attempted murder. The victims continue to battle medical complications as acid seeps into the body and harms internal organs over an extended period of time. The victim needs both short term and long term medical facilities in the form of specialized plastic surgery. But it is almost impossible for the victim's family to pay for the extensive surgeries needed to reconstruct the damaged face of the victim and thus many of the victims remain like a living corpse. As these surgeries are performed at different stages to give a person a close resemblance to their earlier looks, these operations cost the victim a fortune.

Despite the fact that in most cases the victim knows the violator, the perpetrators often escape the law and are rarely brought to justice under the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Indian Penal Code.

The Prevention of Offences (By Acids) Act 2008, should be enacted into a law at the earliest. The parliament in its list of priorities should consider adopting the said bill into a law, so that the offenders do not go unpunished and the victims turn out the courts completely disillusioned, without adequate justice being meted out to them.

Acid attacks on women have serious negative impact on their health - both physically and psychologically. The sheer magnitude of the problem, the widespread stigma and discrimination and the significant treatment gap that exists, necessitates an immediate public health response. The need to recognize and account for the psychological violence faced by women who survive acid attacks is critical.

Keywords: Acid throwning, Offence, impact on women, Prevention of Offences (By Acids) Bill 2008

JEL Classification: K14

Suggested Citation

Chakraborty, Rahul, Acid Attack: A Call for Legislation (January 31, 2009). Available at SSRN:
No contact information is available for Rahul Chakraborty

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