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The word ACID ends with D.ACID ATTACK; on the other hand, it leads to D.

D as in danger, destruction, deformation, and that one question, “DID I DESERVE IT?”

The girls who were studying inside the room for their exams got attacked, did they deserve it?

The girl who was just 15 and refused a marriage proposal just because she wanted to study. Did she deserve it?

A husband was acid-attacked by his wife. Did he deserve it?

They sure don’t deserve it. But, the punishment to the perpetrator is undoubtedly justified.

What Exactly is Acid Attack?

Acid attack is an act of throwing the acid or any kind of corrosive material in the face/ body of another person with the intention of deformation of face, torture, or even death in some cases. The attacker usually throws the substance in the face causing the burning sensation on the skin. The acid is responsible for melting, shrinking and shriveling the skin which can reach the bones as well which can leave scars or physical disfigurement in the face throughout lifetime..in some cases, it can result in permanent disability such as blindness and inertness.

First, the burn and then the pain

The Immediate Impact of the acid can be seen on the skin. The acid attack survivors describe that at first, they experience an intense burning sensation followed up with the severe pain. The recovery is often a long process, and the victims must undergo several surgeries. The treatment is expensive and almost unaffordable to ordinary people. There is short term as well as long term effects aftermath the acid attack. 

  • Effects on health 

The short term effects are taken into consideration the period from the attack to the treatment in the hospital. The short term effects mostly happen in the affected area on the body. The white patches start seeing in the area that eventually gets darker. The burnt skin wears off, and the underlying skin looks fleshy. The person might feel weak, and the immune system also suppresses over time. If the acid reaches around the skull area, he/she will undergo hair fall, and it also forms patches in the area. If affected in the lips area, there might be difficulty in speaking or eating. 

Types of burn

The severity of the burn depends on the depth of the wound. The intensity or degree of injury are categorized into;

  • First-degree burn:

 The injury that occurs only in the first layer of the skin (known as epidermis) is called the first-degree burn. It is referred to as a surface wound.

  • Second-degree burn:

The injury that occurs in the layer below the epidermis, known as the dermis, is the second-degree burn. The dermis is the second layer of the skin, and this type of injury is called partial thickness.

  • Third-degree burn:

The injury that reaches the third layer of the skin is the third-degree burn. The subcutaneous tissues are damaged in the third-degree burn. It is known to as full-thickness burn.

  • Fourth-degree burn:

The injury that passes the skin layer and reaches the muscles and bones underneath the skin is fourth-degree burn.

Acid attacks are mostly third-degree and fourth-degree burns.

There are usually three zones of burns in an acid attack. The zone of coagulation is the area that is most affected by the burn. The second zone is called the zone of stasis.it is the area surrounding the affected area. The third zone is called the zone of hyperemia. Hyperemia is an unburned section of the affected area. The damaged part of the skin must be removed or replaced by the skin from other parts of the body. The stasis zone, however, can be treated depending on the severity. The unburned section of the affected skin may also appear dark but does not affect the skin.

In the long run, the growth of tissues might develop in the affected area. However, due to the growth of muscles, the body might fail to regulate average body temperature. The masses may not have a severe impact on the health, but it makes the person self-conscious about it. If there is damage in the muscles or nerves, the person can become completely immovable. Blindness is also possible in the case of damaged skin tissues in the eye area. 

Treatments

For the short term treatment, removing the dead skin is the priority. The dead skin may forbid the growth of new skin and may even cause infections. Then the removed dead skin is replaced by the skin from other parts of the body. This process is known as grafting. Transfusion of blood becomes necessary during these treatments. Due to severe pain, the person must be given pain killers as well. Nutritional supplements become a necessity due to the immune system. The patient must undergo the surgery contracture release surgery in case of inertness in body parts. Other critical operations the patient may have to do re tissue expansion, topical treatments, laser treatments, etc. Tissue expansion is carried out to allow the body to grow extra skin. Topical treatment helps reduce the growth of scars. Similarly, flattening of the overgrowing tissues in the affected region is done during laser treatment.

Consequences

Along with the unpleasant physical scars, the survivors of acid attacks are forced to face mental and psychological consequences. The daunting pain due to the injury, along with mental distress, becomes their daily lifestyle. Many acid attack survivors have insomnia, anxiety, and depression. Post-traumatic stress disorder(PTSD) becomes a bother in the process of recovery. However, if you have strong will power and determination, the healing becomes easy. Society and surroundings play an important role in recovery.

The social factor doesn’t just come into play in the aftermath of the acid attack. It is one of the components that are responsible for increasing acid attack cases. Several other aspects are also accountable for acid violence.

Causes and social factor resulting in acid attack

Globally 1500 people suffer acid violence in a year, and many go unreported. In the context of Nepal, there is an average of 40 acid attack cases in a year. Among the total, 95% of the total acid attack survivors are female. The common reason for the acid attack on women and girls is associated with relationship issues such as marriage refusal, denial of sex, etc. however, many boys have become a victim of the acid attack. The common reasons are business disputes and relationship issues. Here, Acid is being used as a weapon. A weapon used by an attacker to destroy another person’s life. Looking at the present acid attack cases and past events, acid is weaponized against females to control over their bodies. The toxic masculinity and their male ego have resulted in many acid attack cases. The widespread availability of acid in the market at a very affordable price has made it convenient for the attackers. There is not even restriction or law against buying/selling acid. Whatever may be the reason or whichever gender is the target, punishment is essential.

Legal Punishment against acid attack

Muluki Ain, Criminal code bill under section 193 Covers the punishment against acid attack. No person should cause pain to harm or disfigure the face/ any body parts. If found guilty, he/she shall pay a fine and have to stay in jail. During the attack, if the face is damaged, the perpetrator shall pay a fine of Rs.100,000 to 500,000 and remain in prison for five to eight years. In case other body parts are damaged, he/she shall pay a fine of 50,000 to 300,000 and must stay in jail for three to five years. The punishment is given according to the nature of the damage.

Well, Is the punishment enough?

I guess not! Are they staying in prison for just eight years to destroy someone’s face? What after the perpetrator is freed? Is the acid attack survivor safe? Or will the survivor have to live threatened throughout life? Hence, there is a demand that the punishment must be reciprocal. And I couldn’t agree more. The person must be punished for his/her intentions and not for the nature of the injury. After all, the survivor has to live with it for the entire life. The punishment is not just justice to the acid attack survivor, but it is also reducing possible future attacks. 

Ultimately, the acid attack doesn’t just affect a person’s health. We all have a responsibility to speak up to these social issues. We must also be aware of what to do if the situation arises in our surroundings.

What if you witness an acid attack?

If you witness the acid attack, the first thing to do is pour the fresh drinking water to the burnt area of the person. The water must be poured continuously for at least half an hour. It is a proven scientific fact that water reduces the concentration of acid. This method can reduce up to thirty to forty percent of the damage that can happen in the skin. Calling an ambulance and informing the police can then be done. The priority should be to ease the burning sensation on the person’s skin and reducing the severity of the pain. 

Prevention of Acid attacks

The regulation of sales and availability of acid will help decrease the acid attacks. There must be strict rules and regulations that acid can not be bought by anyone and anywhere. There must be severe punishment and harsh jail sentences to the perpetrators. It will diminish their confidence and hence, can reduce acid attacks. The proper awareness about the consequences and the aftermath of the effect of an acid attack is critical. It is crucial to educate people on these topics. 

After all, the acid attack might deform a person’s face or a body, but it does bring negative impacts to others as well. The increasing acid attack cases and similar crimes lead toward the disfiguring of society itself. The constant anxiety to every person for the risk of an acid attack is there. 

Hence, there must be opportunities and privileges to the acid attack survivor like any other person. They should never feel that they are not part of society. There should not be victim shaming, and the perpetrator must be punished.

Let’s seek a safe and better society.

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