Bangladesh, India, and Cambodia: Report Shows Acid Violence is a Form of Gender-Based Violence
Wednesday, February 2, 2011 11:40 AM

A new report, Combating Acid Violence in Bangladesh, India, and Cambodia,” was released by the Avon Global Center for Women and Justice at Cornell Law School, the New York City Bar Association, the Cornell International Human Rights Clinic, and Virtue Foundation.

Acid violence is the “intentional acts of violence in which perpetrators throw, spray, or pour acid onto victims' faces and bodies.” The report finds that acid violence is a form of gender-based violence, which is prohibited by the Convention on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

Bangladesh, India, and Cambodia are all parties to CEDAW and are under a legal obligation to undertake measures to prevent acid violence. Acid violence occurs in areas where acid is easy and cheap to obtain. Thus, the availability of acid must be limited. Businesses can play a crucial rule in curbing acid misuse, including by adopting procedures that are aimed at ensuring that acid is not stolen from them.

Additional measures to prevent acid violence are outlined in the report. Of the three countries, Bangladesh is the only one to have legislation criminalizing acid violence and has requirements of licenses for business use of acid. However, complete and effective implementation of these laws is needed in order to stop this violence. Cambodia has proposed similar legislation but has failed to adopt it yet, while India rejects the introduction of laws to curb acid availability.

Acid violence is considered a form of gender violence because it disproportionately affects women. In Bangladesh, 68 to 90 percent of acid burn victims are female. In India 72 percent of victims are female. In Cambodia, 52 percent of victims are female. The report finds that this happens because of gender discrimination. Specifically, women are disproportionally targeted to maintain their subordination in a society that promotes “hegemonic gender norms and roles.”

The report calls for the governments of Bangladesh, India, and Cambodia to fulfill their obligation to CEDAW in a number of ways. This includes the adoption of legislation to prevent attacks, provide punishment of perpetrators, and compensate victims. In all three countries, survivors face immense challenges in obtaining adequate healthcare.


Compiled from: Combating Acid Violence in Bangladesh, India, and Cambodia (27 January 2011), Avon Global Center for Women and Justice at Cornell Law School