On August 9, 2017, the Supreme Court had issued an order, asking the government to formulate and enforce a regulation that would control the sale and distribution of acid. The order was issued following a few cases of acid hurling in the country and subsequent pressure created by women rights activists. As one of the most condemnable form of violence against women, acid attack has emerged as a serious issue in Nepal that calls for stringent and immediate measures of the government. Acid hurling crime involves males as perpetrators and females at the receiving end of the heinous violence. All kinds of cultural anomalies that were not even heard of in the past, have cropped up in Nepal due to opening up of the society and degradation of cultural and religious values. And acid hurling is an imitation from some people of inferior mentality and immoral extremes. Weaker rule of law and lack of sensitivity on the part of responsible government authority can also be held equally accountable for the continuation of this crime.
It is really an irony that provisions to regulate the sale of acid has not been formulated and implemented even three years after the SC ruling and directive regarding this issue. This heinous crime is happening again and again in this country because, among other factors, acid is being sold freely to anybody who wants to buy it. This is highly sensitive and dangerous chemical whose improper handling and use can be fatal, injurious and environmentally damaging. Such stuff should be banned even in school labs where young children may be using them, let alone being freely sold in the market. When it lands in the hands of the people with criminal bent of mind, it can cause untold harm. Therefore, this stuff must be put under the list of high sensitivity and everybody should not be allowed to make its purchases. Only certified outlets should be allowed to sell and handle acid. Buyers should be required to produce a paper stating the purpose of its use. Papers need to be signed that makes sure the stuff will not be misused or will not be allowed to land in the hands of unauthorised people. It is here that a regulation is needed.
However, it is sad to note here that the government is still mired in the bog of uncertainty which ministry or department should formulate regulation to control the sale and handling of acid. Such a state of confusion, uncertainty and inaction should not continue for a long time or else it allows criminals to do more mean jobs and make many victims. According to a news report carried by this daily on Monday, the government has not taken necessary measures for controlling the sale and misuse of acid even after the attention-drawing of the SC. The government needs to pay due attention to this sensitive issue. Spokesperson at the Home Ministry admits that clarity still lacks as to which ministry should take up the job. Such confusion must come to an end as soon as possible and the regulation should get its shape without further delay.