Women – Targets of Acid Crime

Acid attacks

Women are the most important members in our society. Since independence they have always struggled to gain an equal status in the society. There have been legislations and laws for them but still it is seen that women do struggle a lot. But there is a section of the society which is against the women’s independence and in order to restrict women, they commit heinous crimes like killing them, female foeticide, rape, burning them to die or acid attacks. Acid attacks have been increasing recently in present.

Acid violence denotes the deliberate act of throwing acid on the face and body or on the exposed skin, with the intention to harm, torture or to kill the victim. It affects the survivor or the victim physically and mentally both[1]. The acid used is usually concentrated hydrochloric acid or sulphuric acid or nitric acid which are easily available in the market.

Is acid attack a gender based crime?

The criminal act of acid attack is usually classified and categorised under gender-based crimes as this criminal act is usually committed against women. Gender-based crimes are those crimes that are committed against an individual whether male or female solely because of their sex or gender. These crimes can be a non-sexual crime as well[2]. The Law Commission in its 226th Report has also stated that the majority of the victims are women[3]. It has also been claimed and stated that 95% of the offenders are men and 75% of the victims are women and children[4]. In a recent case, the Delhi High Court has also classified this crime as a gender-based crime further it was observed in this case that most of the acid attacks have been committed on women and young women in particular[5]. The reasons of the heinous and horrendous crimes are – rejection of marriage proposals, denying dowry etc. The intention of an offender is to defeat a woman in respect to destroy her future prospects, career, social, political or financial status[6]. Acid attacks takes place in the entire world and it distresses women immensely. It reflects and continues discrimination between women and men in society, which is not only prohibited in the domestic law but also by international law[7].

Effects of the attack

The concentrated acid melts the skin or the flesh permanently and sometimes it dissolves the bones as well. There are situations where the victims have turned blind as well[8]. There are thick and scars which forms on the skin. Where the acid touches, that part of the body burns and sometimes the organs get affected also[9]. Even if they survive, due to all these consequences, it becomes difficult for the victim to continue with their work. The impact of this criminal activity is not only physical but it affects mental health also. Victims have stated that they had undergone high levels of anxiety, depression and other mental issues. Their self esteem and confidence level decreases tremendously. Apart from physical and mental conditions, a victim’s social and economical life get impacted too. The victims hesitate to interact with anyone. People fear talking to them because of their appearance and moreover, they even tend to lose their jobs.

Legal impact

In 2013, specific legislation was incorporated in Indian Penal Code, 1860 when The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 was passed. This resulted in the insertion of Sections 326 A and 326 B in the Code.

Section 326 A states that – Whoever causes any permanent or partial damage to anyone by throwing acid on that person deliberately in order to cause injury or hurt shall be punished with imprisonment not be less than ten years although it can extend to imprisonment for life along with fine. It was also mentioned that that such fine shall be fair to meet the medical expenses of the victim’s treatment.

Section 326 B states that whoever attempts to throw acid on any person with the intention of causing permanent or partial damage in order to cause grievous hurt to that person, he shall be punished with imprisonment for a term not be less than five years but can extend to seven years and he shall also be liable to fine if deemed fit.

 Landmark cases [10]

Laxmi Agarwal

She was 15 when she was attacked by her acquaintances because she refused to marry her friend’s brother. She faced a lot of humiliation but still she achieved exemplary heights. She started her NGO and helped many acid attack victims. She served as an inspiration for everyone.

Pragya Singh

Pragya, a 23-year-old was pursuing her career in apparel management. She had turned down a marriage proposal of a man who later threw acid on her face. She had to undergo almost fifteen surgeries. Currently, she is working for an NGO and helping the acid attack survivors to provide them a good start.

Daulat Bi Khan

Daulat faced the brutal acid attack at the age of 26, by her elder sister and brother-in-law. She had to undergo several surgeries. But without giving up on her life, she started a foundation thereby helping several acid attack survivors.

Anmol Rodriquez

She was attacked by her father when she was born but somehow, she survived. Growing up, she faced a lot of humiliation but she managed to overlook it and currently she is a successful model.


A survivor is left with deep scars mentally and physically both forever, hence, it becomes difficult for them to survive and to even carry out daily chores. With the Criminal Amendment introduced in 2013, it brought a positive change in the legal field. Prior to this, there was no specific legislation related to acid attacks. Also, there are several NGOs which work for and help theacid attack survivors. Initiatives have also been taken so as to provide a better life to the victims. Some of them are- employment at Delhi Commission Women, medical check-up for the survivors for free of cost, employment at the Delhi High Court[11].

Edited by Pragash Boopal

Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje


[1]What is acid attack?, rise coalition, http://www.risecoalition.org/what-is-acid-violence/

[2] Sexual Based Crimes, Coalition for the International Criminal Court,http://www.coalitionfortheicc.org/sexual-and-gender-based-crimes

[3] 226th Report, Law Commission of India, Proposal for the Inclusion of Acid Attacks as Specific Offences in the Indian Penal Code and a Law for Compensation for Victims of Crime 7 (July 2009).

[4]What is acid attack?, rise coalition, http://www.risecoalition.org/what-is-acid-violence/

[5] Acid attacks Horrifying Forms of Gender Violence (November 14, 2013)https://www.hindustantimes.com/india/acid-attacks-horrifying-forms-of-gender-violence/story-6uO6m1IZqqkwpthgCIZ8iM.html

[6] Acid Attacks on the Rise and Toxic Masculinity, The Conservation,https://theconversation.com/acid-attacks-are-on-the-rise-and-toxic-masculinity-is-the-cause-82115

[7]Acid Survivor Trust International, acid violence, https://www.acidviolence.org/a-worldwide-problem.html

[8]Surbhi Agarwal, Acid Attack and the Law in India (December 25th, 2014), https://blog.ipleaders.in/acid-attack-and-the-law-in-india/

[9] Impact of Acid Attacks on Body, rise coalition,http://www.risecoalition.org/the-impact-of-acid-attacks-on-the-body/

[10]Sayantani Nath, 5 Acid Attack Survivors whose unbreakable determination inspires us, the better India (December 11,2019), https://www.thebetterindia.com/206060/chhapaak-trailer-laxmi-agarwal-acid-attack-survivors-story-life-inspiring-india/

[11]CharviKaturia, 5 Initiatives taken for the Welfare of the Acid Attack Survivors, shethepeople (February 19th,2018) https://www.shethepeople.tv/news/5-initiatives-welfare-acid-attack-survivors