Acid violence is a global problem, and not confined to regions, religions or cultures
A worldwide problem
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Attacks occurring globally
Acid violence isn't limited by borders. There are thousands of attacks globally every year.
An estimated 90% of global burn injuries occur in low-income and emerging economies, with huge associated social and economic costs.
Victims of acid and burns violence often do not report the true cause of the injuries out of shame or fear.
Most developing countries do not have a comprehensive national system for recording and monitoring burn injuries. Furthermore, where there are resources available, these are usually focused in urban areas, leading to greater under-reporting in rural areas.
People may never present themselves to hospitals for treatment, so their cases go unrecorded, or there may be large areas of the country that are remote or in conflict (as is the case for Uganda) where there may not be medical facilities or relevant NGOs who might collect data are not working for security reasons.
In international law, states have a due diligence obligation to prevent such violence from occurring, to protect victims, to punish perpetrators, and to provide compensation to those who have suffered from it.
The main research on acid violence to date has been undertaken through ASTI and its partners through a programme funded by the UN Trust Fund. Initial findings show that providing redress to victims in the form of ongoing psychosocial and economic support to help them rebuild their lives and to cover healthcare costs is one of the recommendations for governments to address the consequences of acid violence.
Another important issue is the need to address the impunity of perpetrators because of the lack of laws criminalising the use of acid as a weapon, lack of implementation of existing laws and the inadequate response of police.
Around the world
The UK now has the highest number of recorded attacks in the world, with a 69% rise in the number of attacks in 2022. Acid attacks peaked in 2017, with 941 recorded cases. The figures then steadily dropped to reach 421 in 2021. This can be partly attributed to the Offensive Weapons Act coming into effect and the introduction of stricter controls on the availability of acid and other corrosive substances, alongside increased public awareness around the repercussions that perpetrators face if caught.
However, 2022 saw 710 cases reported to the Police. Acid attacks in the UK have been historically linked with gang violence, with most victims being male, but the trend has now reversed, with the number of female victims surpassing male victims for the first time. This signals a rise in violence against women and girls. On a regional level, the highest number of attacks can be seen in Northumbria, which is followed by London.
There were 228 acid attacks reported in the country in 2018, but it is very likely that a large number of attacks were not reported and the actual number of attacks was far higher. Research indicates that the majority of victims are women and girls.
Research conducted by the Acid Survivors Foundation Pakistan (a not-for-profit) showed a strong correlation between industry and the prevalence of acid attacks. The highest number of attacks were in the southern Punjab region, also known as the “cotton belt”.
Colombia has approximately 100 recorded attacks a year and with a population of around 48 million this makes attacks in Colombia one of the highest per capita.
Attacks in Bangladesh peaked at around 400 in 2002. Almost 70% of victims are women and girls. A study of 90 victims found that 80% of the attacks occurred in the victims homes. Perpetrators are almost always men.
There were 382 victims of acid violence in Uganda between 1985 and May 2011. Of the 382 cases, the majority (58%) were recorded in the Central region of Uganda.
There was a sharp increase in number of recorded attacks in 2000 (40 attacks). Numbers of recorded attacks have now declined to single figures.
In 2008, more than 100 people were injured in acid attacks in Hong Kong.
How to take action against acid violence in your country
It can sometimes be difficult knowing where to begin, or how to enact real change. We have compiled some simple ways to make a real difference. Any action you take will help us to collectively end acid violence.
Educate yourself. Learn about the history of acid violence, the root causes of why attacks happen and how to treat acid burns.
Fundraise for ASTI. You could take part in a sponsored run, or just sell your unwanted items and donate the earnings.
Contact your local MP/Governmental representative and appeal for them to have a conversation with ASTI about how to reduce attacks in your area.
Use your platform to raise awareness about acid violence. Even if your audience is small, liking and resharing our content still makes a huge difference in supporting our cause.