Why The IPC Provisions Have Not Helped Stop Acid Attacks?

by Mir Tajamul Islam and Aarif Rashid Malik

If there is an acid attack, and the victim files a case to get the convict punished and get compensation for the treatment, then it will take at least two to three years or more than that to get the accused punished and receive the compensation.

Using acid in attacks to satisfy inflated egos is one of the serious and most inhuman crimes on earth. KL Artwork: Malik Kaisar

Violence against women is a global phenomenon. It includes half of the world population. It is being perpetrated against women in various forms. History bears testimony to the fact that women have been the most oppressed and marginalized section of society.

‘Othering’ discourse regarding women has been canonized through the distorted historical facts and myths to justify oppressive social norms and customs that clog her freedom, so that ‘illegitimate power of patriarchy can be legitimized as insofar so that women can follow blindly commandments of men.

Incidents of violence against women day by day are skyrocketing. It is because she is considered an enfeebling and submissive creature on the earth. Indeed, it is ‘inferiority and superiority complex’, which makes always prone to violence. Even though men have authority over women but this doesn’t completely mean that he can use his power for rapacious and egoistic interests to satisfy his unquenchable thirst. ‘Authority Of Men’ is within the boundaries, once he transcends these boundaries it eventually leads to conflict and create mayhem and pulverize the peaceful life of men and women.

A Property Gender

According to Harvey and Gow, “History of violence against women is tied in the history of women being viewed as property and a gender role assigned to be subservient to men”. It is because of this oppressive and brutal culture, she is not in a position to live a dignified and honourable life. The institution of patriarchy has made her life very awful and maladroit.

Violence can’t be confined to social institutions, political institutions, etc but language is a gigantic instrument to justify brutal forms of violence. Even our mental setup is biased to that extent we consider women’s dress style entirely responsible for disseminating venom and evils in the society and in contrary to this, man is hardly held responsible for it. It is preposterous to blame a particular section of society for disseminating venom and evils in society. Having too much prejudice and stereotypic notion regarding women is a historical process. It is through this biased historical process, we are batting the mind set up of the coming generation, so that legacy of bias against women will not diminish

Incentivising A Trait Development

Girls from very childhood are encouraged and rewarded for internalizing ‘ feminine’ traits. like submissiveness, emotiveness, tenderness, modesty, patience, etc. In contrast, boys are encouraged to be assertive, dominating, aggressive, competitive and ambitious. Hence a boy acquires masculinity, while a girl acquires femininity in the process of socialization.

Jese Bernard argues that everyday life especially for children under age five is divided into a ‘pink world’ for girls and a ‘blue world’ for boys. This pink world encourages girls to be emotional and submissive, while the blue world encourages boys to be assertive and independent, for example, the choice of dish cleaner, doll-like real babies are bought for girls reinforcing the idea of feminity as about being a wife and mother who cares for others.

On the other hand, trains cars tools and heroic actions into are present a masculine life centred on active work and adventure. Further, the process of reward and punishments tends to reinforce the idea of masculinity and femininity among young children. For example, a boy is rewarded for displaying risk-taking adventurous behaviour, while a girl is discouraged against such behaviour and vice versa.

In Jammu Kashmir

Violence against women is also taking place in Jammu and Kashmir on a large scale. It is not only happening within the families but it takes place outside the families also. The studies carried out regarding violence against women reveals that more than 40 per cent of women are physically or mentally abused by their husband or by their in-laws. Most of the reasons for violence against women are dowry, interference from -in-laws, misunderstanding between husband and wife and scuffles over the giving of birth to female babies.

State Commission Jammu and Kashmir had1600 to 1700 cases every year but majorities of cases were from Kashmir valley. As per State, Women Commission harassment by in-laws is one of the main reasons for female suicide in Jammu and Kashmir and even dowry plays a pivotal role in female suicide in Jammu and Kashmir. In October 2017 the Government of Jammu and Kashmir had launched a women’s helpline number (181) to provide round the clock assistance to women in distress. According to the data provided by the Women helpline number (181) a total number of 922 cases of violence against women were registered between April and September 2020. Purina Dhar manager at women helpline number (181) said that on average her team registers 10 cases every day.

Acidic Lives

The Acid Attack

Adding to the context, the recent acid attack over a young 24-year-old lady in Kashmir’s Srinagar shivered the heads of the people specifically those families, which are overseeing more girl children than boys. This attack followed the gruesome attack over a girl a couple of months before in Kashmir’s Shopian district. The acid attacks are dreadful. The intention behind this crime is very basic i.e. refusal of marriage, rejection to love proposals, etc. so, hatred, envy and humiliation instigate the person.

In 2013, the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013, was passed by the legislation, which inserted Section 326A and Section 326B under the Indian Penal Code, to particularly deal with the cases of acid attacks in India. This modification included the various injuries inflicted upon, the punishment for an attempt to attack, the pre-planning or administering of the act and the compensation to be awarded to the victims.

This amendment also inserted provisions for the compensation to the victim i.e. Section 375B and Section 357C, which not only provided compensation by State but also Free Medical Treatment. Also, the right of private defence under Section 100 of the Indian Penal Code was extended. But Are these laws successful?

An Adequate Step

The laws which were formed to deal with the acid attacks particularly and were inserted in the Indian Penal Code were an adequate step by the judiciary to stop the attacks. But there was no significant drop in the number of acid attack cases in India. The laws focused mainly on punishing the convicts rather than eliminating this problem or preventing the attacks. The laws are not so successful. Just framing the laws is not a solution, but for a law to be successful, it needs proper implementation and enactment.

The Indian judicial system is always overloaded with cases. So, it takes years for one case to be solved. If there is an acid attack, and the victim files a case to get the convict punished and get compensation for the treatment, then it will take at least two to three years or more than that to get the accused punished and receive the compensation. Till then the victim must have gone through various kinds of trauma, pain, and have to live with that disfigured body till he/she receives the compensation. This is why these laws are not so adequate enough in fighting this problem.

And pertinently it has augmented a black stain over Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. Article 21 of the Constitution of India, 1950 provides, “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.”

Right to Life

‘Life’ in Article 21 of the Constitution is not simply the physical act of breathing. It does not connote mere animal sensibility or continued struggle through life. It has a much broader meaning, including the right to live with human satisfaction, right to livelihood, right to health, right to pollution-free air, etc.

Mir Tajamul and Aarif Malik

In Kharak Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh, the Supreme Court noted and held: By the term ‘life’ as here used something more is meant than mere animal existence. The inhibition against its deprivation extends to all those limbs and faculties by which life is enjoyed. The provision equally prohibits the mutilation of the body by amputation of an armoured leg or the pulling out of an eye, or the destruction of any other organ of the body through which the soul communicates with the outer world.

(Mir is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in legislative law and Malik is pursuing masters in political science at the University of Kashmir. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of Kashmir Life.)

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