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Tuesday, 5 February, 2002, 02:20 GMT
Bangladesh cracks down on acid attacks
Bangladeshi women
Women are attacked with acid over marital disputes
The Bangladeshi Government has approved tough new laws to curb a rise in acid attacks on women.

Alleged attackers will be tried by special tribunals and will face a maximum penalty of death.

Because of their defaced faces neither their families or anyone else will accept them

S L Sen, plastic surgeon
Bangladeshi Prime Minister Khaleda Zia described the attacks as a disgrace and promised to take firm steps against perpetrators following her election last October.

Figures released by the Acid Survivors Foundation (ASF) in Bangladesh earlier this year showed there had been a 50% increase in attacks last year compared to the year before.

Most of the attacks are carried out against young women who have rejected arranged marriages, although in some cases children and men have been attacked too.

Child victims

In 2001, 340 men and women were attacked with acid, according to the ASF.

Munira Rahman from the ASF said a two-month-old baby was hurt in an acid attack on its mother in January this year.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Khaleda Zia
Prime Minister Khaleda Zia has denounced the attacks
Attacks have been carried out with sulphuric or hydrochloric acid bought in shops or with acid taken from batteries.

Under the current law, shopkeepers selling acid are obliged to enquire about its intended use, and the new measures will further tighten restrictions on its purchase.

Acid attacks leave victims badly scarred and feeling suicidal and, in some cases, have even resulted in death.

"Because of their defaced faces neither their families or anyone else will accept them and unless their rehabilitation is ensured, what life will they have after surgery?" said Bangladeshi plastic surgeon S L Sen, from Dhaka Medical College Hospital.

The new law will also include guidelines for police on how to treat the victims of acid attacks.

See also:

30 Jan 02 | South Asia
Bangladesh acid attacks soar
12 Aug 01 | South Asia
Patrols against Kashmir acid attacks
10 Aug 01 | South Asia
Kashmir women face acid attacks
30 Mar 98 | S/W Asia
Bangladesh approves new assault laws
14 Aug 00 | Middle East
Eye for an eye justice
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