One may welcome Indian Supreme Court’ order to regulate the sales of acid to curb the attacks on women; but is this order good enough and practical to meet the desired results? The court has ordered the federal and state governments to classify acid as ‘poison’; only to be sold to people above the age of 18 holding ID cards and a valid reason for such a purchase.
This menace of acid throwing is not limited to India only, occasional cases are being reported from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. In majority of the cases young girls and women are assaulted and disfigured by vicious men out of jealousy, or to satisfy their ego, or for rejecting a marriage proposal or sexual advances. Sometimes even women’ in-laws are involved in such heinous crimes. Every year hundreds of women are disfigured for life in South Asia only because they live in a male-dominated society and culprits just walk away after committing the crime. In past six months, 92 acid attacks were reported in New Delhi alone.
Though Bangladesh has also done a similar legislation, however, Pakistan and Afghanistan lag behind on curbing the off the shelf acid sale. But apparently these steps are not enough to stem this crime against humanity. The chemicals which are generally used to produce acids are quite cheap and easily available. Even if acid retail sale is regulated, people with criminal mind can produce it at home. Such legislation may only be a first step in a long-drawn fight against this crime.
Though Pakistan has increased punishments up to 14-year and imposed heavy fines, but even then there is a record increase in such crimes. It’s not exemplary punishments, inaccessibility of chemicals but also the psychology of the society which needs to be changed. While appreciating the initiative taken by courts, it’s high time for sociologists, educationalists, religious scholars, media trend-setters and psychologists to come forward and play their role to evolve a society wherein women are accepted as equal human being, not a property or commodity.
Jubail, July 19.