The acid attack rate is escalating in Nepal in recent years. Most of the attack victims are women. It has been recorded that the Ego and Revenge have been the prime cause to enact this act. Whatever, the cause is, and all the pain and lifetime living with acid scars had to be faced by the survivors and their family. However, these do not make the acid attack survivors, the heroes to move on, and inspire others to live life no matter what.
This article is dedicated to the acid attack survivors in Nepal(three of them on the picture above) and their inspiring livelihood and struggle afterward the unexpected and inhuman act done by the fellow human for the mere reason of getting the proposal rejected and for their ego being challenged.
On Feb 22, 2015, While coming back from tuition, Sangita Magar, the then SLC appearing with her friend Sima Basnet, was attacked with acid by Jiwan BK, a 20-year old unrequited lover of Sangita. After being rejected, Mr. BK committed this hideous crime and has never shown any remorse for this. Sangita had struggled in physical pain, mental and emotional struggle due to character assassination by the media. These all expected events had led Sangita to become suicidal. However, she gave herself isolation from all these bizarre scenes of people taking advantage of her worst situation. This isolation brought her the confidence to face the media and people who would use their tongue and articulate statements to hurt her. She then worked to do something for the acid attacks in the country. Magar had challenged the country’s law on acid and burn violence. She urged the Supreme Court to order that survivors must be provided with immediate financial support from the government to cover the treatment. The provision came into effect on August 17, 2018, as part of the then civil and criminal code. She has been actively supporting fellow survivors nowadays.
Living with Bishnu Bhujel, the ex-husband of Jenny Khadka was getting harder and loathsome when Jenny came to know about her decision to elope with Bishnu at age of 14 was the great mistake of her life. Also, she came to know that Bishnu had successfully made her second wide after luring her for better financial and luxurious life. With all courage, she left Bishnu and started living with her parents. On 15th May 2019, Bishnu asked Jenny to talk and ended up splashing the liquid fire on her. Jenny had suffered 20 percent burn, mostly on her neck, chest, and arms. with the help of Astitwa Nepal, an organization that committed to rehabilitating victims of violence, Jenny job at Sagun, an institute for social research and action. Jenny has been actively engaged in conducting awareness campaigns under the Participatory Burn Prevention project of Sagun. She strongly believes society must intervene when the toxicity in a marriage or relationship exits which can lead to an acid attack threat. Jenny shares her philosophy of not getting stuck on the past and stepping in and speaking up when seeing a man harassing a woman or when a couple arguing.
On 6th September 2019, at around 6 a.m. Muskan ( from Birgunj) was on her way to school from home. Two boys, Shamshad Aalam and Majid Miya of Chhapkaiya were following her on the motorcycle and throw acid on her face. She received help and support from various public figures of Nepal and many Bollywood celebrities. She has also put forth her demands in a two-page long letter to Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, dated October 24. She states,” Stains do not heal quickly, so we have to think ahead. We have to think about what to do and what to do next. We should never let a criminal win by shedding tears. We have to stay strong.”In It’s my Show, hosted by Suraj Singh Thakuri, She told taking the advantage of COVID-19 pandemic, the culprit’s family has successfully made them out of custody by showing a birth certificate making them 12 years old, and bribing the police by one lakh rupees. She has also been supporting the other acid attack victims. In the last week of August, she met PM K.P Oli in his residence, Baluwatar. She expressed her happiness as PM had agreed to bring strict laws to control acid attacks and provide relief to victims.
On 23rd July 2020, Pavitra Karki (originally from Okaldunga)got attacked by acid while returning home at Bafal after she was left on the mid-way by her rider and ex-employer, Mahamad Alam. Mahamad Alam had mobilized his employee, Munna Mohammad for the crime. Alam told the police that he made the plan to commit the crime after she turned down his love proposal. Pravitra stated that she had never thought that Alam was in love with her. For her, he is like a brother. Her right cheek, hair, neck, hand have been scorched by acid. Fellow acid survivors, Muskan Khatun and Jenny Khadka tried to reassure her and motivated her to stay strong and not let the culprit win by seeing her tears.
Ram Raja Thapa was attacked with acid on March 9, 2020, by his wife while he was in sleeping with his wife and his newly born child in his residence in Kathmandu. His wife has been denying about this till the date. His family had to get argue with the hospital authorities to admit him as they were reluctant to admit him due to the COVID-19 situation. He had gone through surgeries but his eyes have terrible wounds and have swollen. Due to this, he cannot sleep; he cannot even close his eyes properly. He can barely open his mouth but he can eat some food, mostly liquid but all with his mouth half-open. The case of Ramraja has shown that an acid attack is not just a gender-based crime, its a crime and a shame on humanity. Being a guest on It's my show hosted by Suraj Singh Thakuri along with Muskan Khatun (acid attack survivor) and Ujjwol Thapa (social activist), he expressed his grief as none of the government officials came to see and ask him about his condition. He questioned the gender biases on meeting and consoling of acid attack survivors. He also shared his plans to be able to live and work as a driver just the way he used to do before the incident.
Laws against acid attacks
The increase in the number of acid attacks and the continuous pressurizing acts by civil society, NGOs have urged the government to take a firm decision. On September 25, The Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs has prepared the draft of two ordinances. Under the existing law, perpetrators of acid attack face a maximum jail term of eight years. According to a source, the government has proposed a jail term of 20 years and a fine of Rs 1,000,000 for acid attackers if the crime causes serious injuries to the victim. Besides, if the victim dies then the culprit will be sentenced under bars for a lifetime.
However, the demands to stop the sale and distribution of acid were not addressed by the government until September 28 when President Bidhya Devi Bhandari authenticated an ordinance for the regulation in trading of acid along with two other ordinances related to crimes and Nepal Police respectively. This ordinance states that shops selling and distributing acid will have to acquire a license after receiving permission from the district administration. The license must also be renewed annually.
We are hopeful to know the less or no cases of such attacks and if it happens also then may the culprit be given the designated punishments and compensation for the victims or let's say the acid-attack survivors.