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Four sisters injured in newest acid attack in India

By Raluca Besliu     Apr 4, 2013 in Politics
On Tuesday evening, four Indian sisters, aged between 19 and 24, from the Shamli district of Uttar Pradesh, situated at around 100 km from New Delhi, suffered burns after an acid attack committed against them.
According to the senior officer investigating the case, "the victims were walking together when two men on a motorbike made lewd remarks and the man who was riding pillion splashed acid on all of them." The sisters were returning home from a government school where three of them work as teachers, while the fourth is a student.The senior officer further stressed: "The youngest sister suffered maximum burn injuries and she had to be rushed to a hospital in Delhi." Another girl was taken to a local hospital, while the other two underwent minor injuries. The reason for the attack remains unclear and police has not yet made any arrests.
The four girls' assault occurred just as President Pranab Mukherjee signed into law stronger legislation combating violence against women. The new legislation was passed in response to the protests and growing outrage across India over the horrifying gang rape of a young woman on a New Delhi bus in December 2012. The law doubles the minimum punishment for rapists to 20 years, has provisions for imposing the death sentence to recidivists, defines stalking and voyeurism as non-bailable offences if conducted a second time and fixes age for consensual sex at 18 years. It also imposes a minimum 10-year jail sentence for acid attack perpetrators, while also defining acid attack as a crime. Nevertheless, acid attacks offenses remain bailable, which means that, with the right sum of money, these offenders could easily be on the streets again.
Nevertheless, some experts argue that the greatest problem will be respecting and implementing the law, given that people will simply choose to ignore its existence, while the Indian authorities can be bribed to avoid investigations and sentences. Moreover, the renowned Indian novelist Arundhati Roy stressed that another key problem is the fact that, certain crimes, like rape and acid attacks, are regarded as a "matter of feudal entitlement" in many parts of India and, as a result, local authorities dismiss these cases without making even a minor investigations to verify the alleged victims’ accusations.
At the same time, criticizing the Indian government for neglecting the increasing numbers of acid attacks, Stop Acid Attacks, an advocacy organization, has called it to take other essential measures, in particular regulating the sale of "Tezaab," an acid designed to clean rusted tools but often used in acid attacks. According to activist and acid attack survivor Archana Kumari, "Acid has become the cheapest and most effective tool for men to attack women in India." She added: "Why is the government not stopping the sale of acid? Why are they supporting a weapon that has the power to kill and ruin a woman's life?"
Acid attacks are a growing problem in several other South Asian countries, affecting women in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
The main victims of acid attacks tend to be women who reject lovers, husbands or employers.
According to Acid Survivors Trust International, around 1,500 acid attacks are yearly reported worldwide. Nevertheless, there are many more victims who choose not to report their case, because, in their societies, they are often considered responsible for the crime, which determines many of them to remain silent and prevents them to report their abuse to the police for fear of exposing themselves and their families to public humiliation and shaming.
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