The biggest hindrance in Indian society to dealing with crimes like acid attacks is how we interpret the law of Karma. Erroneously, we believe acid attacks to be the effect of the victims’ karma.  Acid attack victims need love and compassion, and not a distorted version of karma, to help them rebuild their lives, says SEEMA SAXENA

The society and culture we live in have a great influence on us. Based on its ideological perceptions, this society prescribes some laws to help its people evolve and function properly.

But apart from laws, conscience is our guide to help us  live in an ethically correct way in all spheres of life. Moreover, our mind develops individual perceptions based on the data it has collected by way of memories, environmental factors, choices faced, and our basic instincts. Our intellect is a tool of discretion that helps us to take decisions that are necessary for our sustenance and growth.

There are times in our lives when we deliberately take decisions that our inner instincts and conscience have automatically rejected as detrimental to society. But since we are under the illusion of power we are confident of overcoming all hurdles along the way. The illusion encourages us to defy even nature and that leads to the most gruesome acts, which leave a painful scar on society and humanity, as a whole.

Seema Saxena

How else would you explain an act of a man throwing acid on the face of a woman whom he admired and even loved, but was turned down by her?

“You  rejected me, now let’s you see how you will live your life like this,” the attacker conveys this blood-chilling message to the victim.

It is a vicious attempt by the attacker to destroy the woman’s life as revenge for rejecting his advances.

Considering that such criminals get away with a lighter punishment and even have the power to escape the law, the attacker deliberately plans an acid attack. The attacks with sulphuric or nitric acid, on sale at chemical stores, melt skin tissues to expose bones and cause damage to the eyes, leading to partial vision or blindness. The woman’s nose, mouth, and ears are distorted beyond recognition. Without a face, a woman’s socio-economic life is completely broken down. She is solely dependent on her family members in the initial days of her struggle to survive the heinous crime.

The burn injuries inflicted by acid need immediate treatment, otherwise the damage is beyond repair. Each surgery for restoration of the functioning of the nose, mouth, and eyelids costs a whopping 60,000-1 lakh, depending on the intensity of the acid burn.

Private hospitals demand high fees and they do not want to get involved with the hassles of criminal proceedings. Government hospitals are known for their negligence and burn injuries need to be handled in a special way. Most of the acid-burn survivors tell pathetic tales of negligence in treatment. Most of the time the treatment is not enough or it begins late. If the survivor belongs to the Dalit class or the weaker sections, you can well imagine the state of the victim.

Hangout Cafe run by acid attack survivors in cities in UP

Section 326-A and Section 326- B in the Indian Penal Code has been able to bring some relief to the survivors and towards women’s security, but the attacks have not stopped. 

Acid attacks on women are more serious than murder, because the crime forces a woman to live in the most challenging situations and compulsions for the rest of her life as the victims are mostly in their teens. It affects the psyche of the survivor forever. She suffers from post-traumatic disorder. She is left with few job opportunities, which inflict an additional burden on the already broken personality.

Needless to say, respect for women is essential to be instilled in every culture. They are not objects of entertainment. Their importance has to be understood and society needs to provide security to them. It needs to empower them so that they do not become victims. Right upbringing at home and in school is essential for the proper mental growth of individuals, especially men.

Violence against women in any form, whether physical abuse or rape should be dealt with a firm hand and the laws of society need to be stringent. All loopholes need to be plugged in, as and when they appear.

Life imprisonment or death sentence is a must for acid attacks, rape, or human trafficking. Although the punishment cannot bring back the previous life of a survivor, it sure can deter others from resorting to acid attacks or any other form of physical abuse of women.

Laxmi Agarwal, acid attack survivor and crusader

Rehabilitation of survivors is essential and fortunately many NGOs and the survivors themselves are helping other survivors to rehabilitate.

The biggest hindrance in Indian society to dealing with crimes like acid attacks is how we interpret the law of Karma. The sufferings not only of acid attack survivors, but many others are looked upon with total apathy, erroneously believing them to be the effect of their karma.

But why do we forget that by ignoring and not doing anything to reduce the miseries of the victims, we are building our karma too, that will end up in the extinction of our culture and society, gradually, on its own accord.

A society grows with love and compassion. Acid attack victims need love and compassion, and not a distorted version of karma, to help them rebuild their lives.

Seema Saxena is a B.Sc in microbiology, and also a B.Ed. She was brought up and educated in Mumbai. Seema is an avid writer and blogger who writes about practicality and spirituality in life. She lives in Jaipur.

More Stories by Seema Saxena  

Featured Image: Pic of acid attack survivors who run Hangout Cafe ( Pic Courtesy ―