UK & World News

  • 27 December 2013, 12:24

Acid Attacks: India Victims Demand Action

Sapna, 20, considers herself lucky to have escaped with just a few burns on her face and upper body. She's one of the latest victims of an acid attack in India.

A spurned relative threw industrial acid when she rejected his advances.

There are no exact figures because these attacks are not recorded separately - but campaigners fear they are increasing.

In a landmark judgement the Supreme Court has ordered the government to regulate the sale of acid, compensate the victims and impose stiffer sentences.

For example, the government now has to pay for the medical treatment of the victims.

But Sapna is yet to receive any money for her treatment.

She said: "The government does not care for us victims. They may arrest the man and keep him in jail for a few years but our lives have been ruined.

"The men should be punished so badly that no one will ever think of attempting to ruin a girl's life."

The Rathi family grieve for their 24-year-old daughter who died after an acid attack six months ago.

She had got a coveted job with the Indian navy. Her father says she was looking forward to her new life in Mumbai.

But when she arrived at the train station in Mumbai, a masked man threw acid on her.

Preeti was blinded and the liquid she swallowed burned her insides. She died in hospital a month later.

Her father says: "I want the culprit to go through the suffering that my daughter went through.

"Hanging will give him instant death but he will not experience the hell he inflicted on her. I want an eye for an eye."

The culprit is yet to be traced - the grainy CCTV images cannot identify him.

Preeti's parents have been petitioning authorities for an investigation by the central government.

They evendoor-stepped the home minister of India in charge of the police.

The minister,Sunil Kumar Shinde, told them he's directed the relevant state department of Maharashtra to look into the case.

Preeti's mother is unconvinced with his reply and told Sky News such ministers just make statements but can't give justice.

"My daughter fought for her life for a month - we want a proper investigation and that they can't give us," she said.

India's deputy home minister RP Singh told Sky News the government has made laws and taken action against acid attacks.

"We have made it a different category in our bill which we amended and the government has made it more difficult for its sale," he said.

But many, like Laxmi, believe the government is still doing very little.

She survived an acid attack six years ago when a man threw the liquid when she spurned his advances.

It burned her face and upper body - her eyes were seriously damaged. She is now an active campaigner for the rights of victims.

It was her petition to the Supreme Court that initiated the changes in law.

But she's dismayed the government is doing nothing to help rehabilitate victims - one of her key demands.

She says she will challenge the government for not doing enough.

"We are not to blame for what happened to us. We are just not survivors. Only we know what we go through when walking down the streets," she said.

"Relatives and friends stop meeting us, our careers are destroyed. Society, the laws and the government don't care if we are living or dead."

India is considered one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a woman.

The horrific gang rape of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student in Delhi in December 2012 has stirred the nation's soul.

Unprecedented protests took place in the national capital and across the country.

The brutality of the crime pressurised the government and the judiciary to frame new laws and make changes in the older ones to protect women.

Fast-track courts were established to deal with such cases and stricter punishment enforced.

But until the regulation in the sale of acid is strictly enforced, and these crimes are severely and swiftly punished, such attacks will continue.

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