Sunday, 9 August, 2020

Root Out Acid Crime

Bini Dahal

A woman’s beauty has always been associated with her asset. So, unlike a man, she is always working hard to look good and presentable. But what happens when the same asset she is so proud of becomes a bane for her?
Recently, a 22-year-old woman, Pabitra Karki, has survived an acid attack. She was attacked by an Indian worker, Munna, at the behest of his employer. Factory owner, Mohammad Alam, a married man with two children, was in love with Pabitra. But when his continuous love advances failed and his love turned into a scary obsession, he became vengeful. He planned to throw acid on the woman. To get the inhumane act done, Mohammad mobilised his worker Munna by giving him an alcohol bottle filled with acid and teaching the worker how to throw it on the woman.
Looking at the cases of acid attack within Nepal and abroad, men have always been the perpetrators to victimise women. It is not like people don’t feel hurt when their proposal or love advances are rejected. Everyone feels the same. What differs is the ability to take the rejection. As most men tend to hold a strong ego in themselves, they are irritated and frustrated. It becomes difficult for them to accept the fact that they were rejected by a woman. This is high especially in a patriarchal society where sons are taught “men don’t cry” and are supplied with a lot of fake masculine values. These men are the same group of people who are found instigating domestic violence and barbaric assaults like acid attacks on women.
It is already a shameful action on the part of the perpetrator (in the case of Pabitra) that he had the courage to run after an unmarried woman while being a married man. But what is more disgraceful is that the man had the audacity to follow her around and dictate and decide who will be around her. How did he get such kind of confidence?
Disfiguring a woman’s face and body so that no one will look at her or pursue her is a hypocritical action. Such crimes are something we need to put a stop to. I feel so, because we give great importance to a woman’s beauty and consider it the only asset belonging to her, a perpetrator like Alam can use cheaply bought acid or follow some other tactics to destroy a precious life forever.
Nepal criminalised acid attack in 2018 with five to eight years of jail and a fine of Rs. 100,000 to Rs. 500,000. Yet, whatever be the amount and jail term, it will never be enough for the damage already done. After losing everything, the victim of an acid attack will have to return to normal. So, what amount can the law fix for this? It is just nothing. She will only feel like she has got justice when no violence or crimes of any kind happen against any woman. She will feel like she has won, only when her choices and freedoms are respected. Our patriarchal society will have to change to make girls and women feel safe and secure at any time of the day with proper access to help and support, whenever needed. 

How do you feel after reading this news?