Page last updated at 15:58 GMT, Thursday, 18 September 2008 16:58 UK

India backs new acid attack laws

By Jyotsna Singh
BBC News, Delhi

Renu, acid attack victim in Delhi (Photo: Sunita Thakur)
Some acid attacks leave women blinded

India has proposed tough new measures to deal with acid violence.

Acid attacks are are a problem throughout South Asia, with cases also reported in Bangladesh and Pakistan.

Campaigners say that women who reject lovers, husbands or employers are often targeted by men using easily available and cheap chemicals.

The outcome of acid attacks is often not murder but life-long torture in the form of permanent disfigurement or scarring of the face.

The Indian government is considering special legislation that would classify acid attacks as a "most heinous form of offence".

The proposals include better compensation to cover the cost of expensive reconstruction surgery for the victims and their physical and psychological rehabilitation.

The plans must be approved by the federal cabinet as well as parliament before taking effect.

The Minister for Women and Child Development, Renuka Chowdhury, says the government plans to bring the bill before parliament next month.

Campaigners say acid attacks are a cruel and inhuman act because the victims often suffer terrible disfigurement while the perpetrators frequently get away with minor punishments - under the current law the punishment is not so severe if the victim does not die.

The Indian Supreme Court has already expressed concern that victims are not getting justice.

Calls have grown for the country to take the lead from its neighbour Bangladesh, which has already brought in special laws including provision for the death sentence to deal with acid attacks.

India's acid victims demand justice
09 Apr 08 |  South Asia
Bangladesh's acid attack problem
28 Jul 06 |  South Asia
Dhaka men in acid attacks protest
08 Mar 05 |  South Asia
Acid attack victim demands justice
28 Jul 03 |  South Asia
Bangladesh acid attacks soar
30 Jan 02 |  South Asia

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