India has long been witness to incidents of acid violence and available records show the earliest acid attack was reported to have taken place in 1920, according to the Acid Survivors Foundation (ASFI) in India.

The ASFI website said the attack was in the Bombay Presidency of British India where Ali Mohammed Farag threw sulfuric acid in the face of Abdullah Mohammed Jabli on September 6, 1920. It has been a widely prevalent phenomenon and has been increasing at an alarming rate.

Statistics compiled by ASFI from media reports and clinical data suggest that there have been 882 attacks between 2010 and 2015. This does not take into consideration the large number of attacks that do not get reported from the mainly rural areas of the vast sub-continent.

The Acid Survivors Foundation in India is an NGO for prevention of acid burn violence as well as for providing support services to survivors through a network of chapters and partners, by sharing knowledge, expertise and best practices.

It was established in Kolkata in 2010.

Statistics

According to its website, separate statistics on acid violence cases in India only began in 2013 because India’s criminal Law did not recognize it as a separate offense.

After an amendment in the Indian Penal Code in February 2013, incidents of acid attack are now being recorded as a separate offense.

Since changes to the penal code, the reporting or classification of acid violence seems to have gained momentum and the official record for 2014 puts the number of incidents of acid violence all over India at 225 and the number for 2015 has been even higher at 249. This validates the earlier estimation of 100 to 500 cases every year.

Causes

The main causes behind attacks are:

• Family disputes; domestic violence; relationship conflicts
• Refusal of indecent proposals or unacceptable propositions
• Land or money disputes; business conflicts
• Vengefulness and status jealousy
• Suspicion of infidelity
• Theft or robbery
• Mistaken identity; accidental; collateral
• Nemesis : perpetrator inflicts self-injury
• Sex crimes, rape, and sodomy – leading to the victim’s death in worst cases

Targets

Acid attacks is a form of violence, especially targeting women. Every year around 1,500 people are attacked in this way across the world.

Reports indicate that out of them, 80% are women and 40% to 70% are below 18 years of age.