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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 March, 2005, 17:42 GMT
Dhaka men in acid attacks protest
Acid attack victim at the rally
The government accepts that acid attacks are a problem
Hundreds of Bangladeshi men have taken part in a rally in the capital Dhaka to denounce acid attacks and other violence against women.

The rally was organised to observe International Women's Day in a country where acid attacks are a major problem.

Rights groups now say that years of campaigning are paying off.

Cricketers, film-stars, academics, writers, civil leaders and acid attack victims were among some 5,000 people who took part in the rally.

'Stop acid violence'

"On behalf of all men, we pledge to stop acid terrorism," said Mahmuduzzaman Babu, a singer who sang especially for the occasion.

"Throwing acid on someone just because you have an argument with them is heinous. I will never do that," said teenager Imran Hossain, who came to the rally with 12 of his classmates.

Acid attack protest in Dhaka
New laws against acid sales have recently been introduced

The BBC's Waliur Rahman in Dhaka says that predominantly male protesters carried banners pledging to stop acid throwing.

The men, and some acid victims also present at the rally, called for greater government efforts to stop the brutal practice.

According to rights groups, throwing acid on women and girls remains a major social problem in Bangladesh.

That is even though a strict law has recently been introduced that provides for the death penalty for people found guilty of the offence.

Advances spurned

According to the Acid Survivors' Foundation (ASF), nearly 2,000 women have become victims of acid violence since 1999.

They warn that an increasing number of men are also being targeted - usually as a result of land disputes.

Acid protesters
The protesters say the government can do more to stop acid brutality

The attackers of women are mostly young men who have had their advances spurned.

Our correspondent says that criminal prosecutions of those accused of carrying out such crimes remains a problem area.

The ASF says only one offender out of nine is likely to be punished due to difficulties in acquiring evidence.

But the ASF Executive Director, Monira Rahman, says that years of campaigning against acid attacks are slowly paying off.

She says that people are becoming more aware of the plight of acid victims, and that attacks dropped by more than 20% in 2004 compared with previous years.

"We need to carry on our campaign against this brutal practice and we hope to reach the day when no women will be disfigured by acid throwing," said Ms Rahman.

The authorities acknowledge that acid is being used as a weapon of violence against women and girls, and recently introduced tight controls on acid sales.

The government says it is following a zero tolerance policy in tackling violence against women.

There were other demonstrations throughout Bangladesh on Tuesday as the country officially observed International Women's Day with the theme "Stopping violence against women".

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30 Jan 02 |  South Asia

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