Four sisters in Uttar Pradesh have suffered burn injuries after two men on a motorcycle threw acid on them as they were returning from school, the police said on Wednesday. One of women is in hospital in Delhi.
The incident took place in Shamli, around 100 km from the national capital, on Tuesday evening when the sisters, three of whom are teachers, were returning home from a government school.
“The victims were walking together when two men on a motorbike made lewd remarks and the man who was riding pillion splashed acid on all of them,” said Abdul Hammed, senior police officer who is investigating the case.
Hameed said no arrests had been made and the motive behind the crime was unclear.The youngest sister, he said, suffered maximum burn injuries and had to be rushed to a hospital in Delhi.
Attacks on women have topped the national agenda since December 2012 when a medical student was assaulted and raped by six men on a moving bus in Delhi.
She died two weeks later of her injuries. Public anger prompted parliament to toughen sex offence laws including doubling the minimum prison sentence for gang-rape, but lawmakers voted against making acid attacks punishable with life imprisonment. Acid attackers can be jailed for eight-12 years depending on the injuries inflicted, but the offence is bailable. Activists have asked the government to regulate the sale of a ‘Tezaab’.
“Acid has become the cheapest and most effective tool for men to attack women in India,” said activist and victim Archana Kumari, who hails from Uttar Pradesh where Tuesday’s attack took place. “Why is the government not stopping the sale of acid? Why are they supporting a weapon that has the power to kill and ruin a woman’s life?”
Acid attacks: A global issue
The Acid Survivors Trust International (ASTI) estimates there are approximately 1,500 acid attacks a year globally. Acid violence is a worldwide phenomenon that is not restricted to a particular race, religion or geographical location. It occurs in many countries in South-East Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, the West Indies and the Middle East, and there is anecdotal evidence of attacks in other regions.