No immunity for acid attackers

Published On: October 8, 2018 02:00 AM NPT By: Republica

When a girl or a woman is sexually assaulted, raped, or acid-attacked, apart from great physical harm, it ravages her psychology forever. The trauma they have to cope with and the stigma they have to bear with are indescribable. Even more horrendous feeling for such victims is to see that those who wronged them are walking scot-free while they are still living with agony. Equally painful is to see and experience that law enforcing agencies are doing little or nothing to arrest and jail them or that laws of the land are not effective enough to address their woes. A number of victims of acid attack feel this way. Acid attack victims, including those undergoing treatment, who participated in a rally in Sindhuli district, have complained that they are the victims of weak law enforcement. The complaint of Bindabasini Kansakar of Hetauda, who was doused with acid in April 2013 while she was inside her own shop, is that the government makes laws but fails to enforce them strictly. Sangita Magar and Seema Basnet, the victim of 2016 acid attack, also have similar impression: “Laws are limited to the law books.”

This impression needs to be corrected and for that government needs to take acid attack as a horrendous crime and jail the perpetrators.  But there are other areas which must also be addressed with urgency. First, this harmful chemical, that can burn your body to death, is available just so easily. Anyone with money in hand can go to the seller, get a bottle of it and throw it on girls and women. And it does not cost much. One can buy a bottle of acid for, according to the rough estimation, as little as Rs 120. And we have no system of keeping the record of who sold the acid and who purchased it, making it even easier for criminal-minded people to continue with their vile acts. Thus we must, without any further delay, regulate the sale and purchase of this killer liquid. It will be easier to book the culprits if it is made mandatory for those buying acid in the market to furnish their particulars, including the purpose of purchase. Second, our police administration does not seem to take acid attack seriously until it has caused a great bodily harm to the victims or there is a persistent media and public pressure for immediate investigation. This lax attitude could be emboldening the attackers. Let us not forget, like other forms of gender violence, acid attack on girls and women is spreading in the recent times.  And third and most importantly, it has become urgent to spread awareness from the grassroots level up to the top that acid attack is an unpardonable crime and the perpetrators won’t be able to escape punishment, no matter how powerful they are or whose protection they enjoy.

Violence against women and girls is becoming rampant in Nepal. Every day we hear of rape, acid attacks and physical and sexual abuse on girls and women. And as the government has not been able to bring the perpetrators of rape and murder of Nirmala Panta, it has given the feeling of insecurity and fear among girls and women. Such impression can be proved false only if and when the government becomes able enough to expedite fair investigation and bring the culprits to book with immediate effect. It has already become too late to ensure that justice will be done to the victims and the perpetrators will be sent to jail. Law enforcing agencies do not have a moment to waste.  


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