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Last Updated: Friday, 29 April, 2005, 16:30 GMT 17:30 UK
Fall in Bangladesh acid attacks
Acid attack victim at the rally
A public protest in Dhaka last month
The number of attacks in which acid was thrown at people in Bangladesh has fallen for the second year running, campaigners say.

The Acid Survivors' Foundation (ASF) says there were 322 cases recorded in 2004. More than 180 were against women, and 76 against those under 18.

The ASF's Monira Rahman told the BBC that nearly half were linked to arguments over land.

Throwing acid is now punishable by death in Bangladesh.

Fast-track courts

"Nearly half of all attacks... were due to property disputes. Sixteen percent were by spurned suitors trying to disfigure women who had rejected them," Ms Rahman said.

2004 - 332
2003 - 410
2002 - 485
Source: Acid Survivors Foundation

"From 1999 to 2002 the trend was on the up... It's a good sign that the number of attacks is showing a declining trend for the last two years."

However, she said it was not clear if the trend would continue.

Acid-throwing cases are now heard in Bangladesh by special fast-track courts empowered to pass the death penalty.

This has helped to shorten the trial period significantly, campaigners say.

However Ms Rahman said that in most cases the accused are acquitted because of the absence of witnesses.

"Often the accused buys the witnesses, threatens the victim's family and even tries to bribe them with financial benefits in order to settle the case outside the court," she said.

Last month hundreds of Bangladeshi men took part in a rally in the capital, Dhaka, to denounce acid attacks and other violence against women.

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

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28 Jul 03 |  South Asia
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15 Sep 02 |  South Asia
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30 Jan 02 |  South Asia

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