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This article aims at explaining the crime of Acid Attacks as to what causes them? Is it related to a specific gender? What can be done to reduce crime and promote deterrence? Does the nature of the crime differ from place to place?


Acid Assault, also known as acid throwing, vitriol assault, or vitriol, is a form of violent assault involving the act of throwing acid or an equally corrosive material onto the body of another “with the purpose of disfiguring, maiming, torturing, or murdering.” Perpetrators of such attacks spray corrosive liquids at their victims, usually on their hands, burn them, and destroy the tissues of the bodies, sometimes exposing and often dissolving the bones. Sometimes, acid attacks will lead to permanent blindness.

The long-term consequences of these attacks may include blindness, as well as eye burns, with severe permanent scarring of the face and body ] along with far-reaching social, psychological, and economic difficulties.

Nature and Scope Around the World

Today, acid attacks are reported in many parts of the world, but more frequently in developing countries. Since the 1990s, Bangladesh has recorded the largest number of attacks and the largest occurrence rates for women with 3,512 Bangladeshi citizens being targeted by acid between 1999 and 2013, while India’s acid attacks keep on increasing by every year. Although acid attacks are most often seen as a crime against women—the overwhelming majority of victims are young women, attacks are usually a form of gender-based violence, but a significant and increasing number of victims are men.

The above data is from the United Kingdom, from which we make out that acid attacks are not a crime associated with a particular gender, but we can see those as a crime that differs from varying geographical countries, That brings us to to the cartographic school of criminology or the geographical school of criminology, that explains to us, the distribution of crime in certain areas, both geographical and social.

Attacks in India

When we talk about India and other Asian countries, throwing acid has been labeled as a “gender crime”, as there is a dominance of female victims who are assaulted by males, for the reason of refusing to marry, or refusing sexual advances from male perpetrators.

Another factor that puts victims at increased risk for an acid assault is their socioeconomic status, as those living in poverty are more likely to be attacked. As of 2013, the three nations with the most noted incidence of acid attacks – Bangladesh, India, and Cambodia – were ranked 75th, 101st, and 104th, respectively, out of 136 countries on the Global Gender Gap Index, a scale that measures equality in opportunities between men and women in nations.

The above data shows us a picture of the situation of judicial action that is taken against them. A total of 596 acid attack cases were reported in 2017 and 2018, with 623 victims falling prey, but data shows that only 149 people were charge-sheeted each year. This is almost or less than half the number of incidents in each year. The lowest number of cases (244) was reported in 2014, with 201 people charge-sheeted.

Deterrence is the issue that is prevalent in acid attacks when from the data it is very clear that the number of people against whom an FIR is registered is less than 60-70% of the crimes that have taken place, which reduces the fear of conviction amongst the perpetrators and that doesn’t add anything for the reduction of these crimes. When we talk about the punishment, Section 326 A in the Indian Penal Code lays down the punishment for acid attacks. The minimum punishment is 10 years’ imprisonment. It can extend up to life imprisonment with a fine. A separate law to punish offenders in such cases was passed along with an amendment of the law on sexual offenses. But these punishments happen after the conviction, the chances of which are very less, and according to the classical school of criminology, Bentham posited that man is a calculating animal who will weigh potential gains against the pain likely to be imposed. If the pain outweighs the gains, he will be deterred and this produces maximal social utility. Therefore, in a rational system, the punishment system must be graduated so that the punishment more closely matches the crime. The punishment, however, is justifiable, but the rate of convictions is what leads to deterrence not happening in society.

However, only convictions wouldn’t lead to complete deterrence of this crime in India, one of the other major problems is the sale of acid that takes place freely, without any regulation by any government authority. The easy and cheap availability of acids over the counter has made it a potent weapon in the hands of offenders. Acids are utilized in numerous industries and trades due to which it is not possible to completely ban its sales, but regulation of acid sales is an absolute must to avoid its falling into unscrupulous hands. In India, people in villages and small towns use acid as a toilet cleaner and it is available for as little as 25 rupees per liter. After the incident of the Acid attack on Laxmi Agarwal, in 2013, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Agarwal and Rupa’s plea, thereby creating a fresh set of restrictions on the sale of acid. Under the new regulations, acid could not be sold to any individual below the age of 18 years. One is also required to furnish a photo identity card before buying acid. But Agarwal claims that not much has changed on the ground, despite all the regulations. “Acid is freely available in shops. And just how easy it continues to be was revealed in a social experiment carried out by Deepika Padukone and her team. Actors were sent to numerous shops posing as different people – mechanic, a local goon, housewife, a drunk person, and others – and asked for acid. Specifically, the ‘strongest’ acid the shopkeeper could give, which could burn the skin. In one day, the team managed to collect 24 bottles of acid from local shops. So for dealing with the crime of Acid Attacks in India, the root is to focus on the regulation of the sale of Acid and for the judiciary to work in a way to see to it that these perpetrators get punished, that would lead to Justice and also awareness regarding the same has to be done.

Roots and Causation

Acid attacks are passion-fumed crimes of passion are numerous. Common motives include jealousy, revenge, fear, and anger. These feelings may be conscious or unconscious. The act may be impulsive or premeditated. The perpetrator may claim that the crime of passion was an act of temporary insanity., for these reasons in Acid Attack the main focus should be on the offender to find out the causation and roots of this criminal behaviour. This brings us again to the Positive School, more specifically to the categorization of ‘criminoids’, a person who commits criminal and vicious acts under certain circumstances despite the absence of physical stigmata of mental aberrations

The motive of the acid attackers is often to humiliate the person, rather than kill them, this is because it is known to them that just throwing acid rarely leads to some persons death, it is only the hatred and angst of the people and the idea of revenge that leads them to do so. Usually, the common intention of the perpetrators include:

  • Personal conflict regarding intimate relationships, and sexual rejection
  • Racial motivations
  • Sexual related jealousy and lust
  • Social, political, and religious motivations
  • Gang violence and rivalry
  • Attacks against minorities
  • Conflicts over land ownership, farm animals, housing, and property
  • Revenge for refusal of sexual advances, proposals of marriage, and demands for dowry.


We learn that acid attacks occur generally by a person who is driven by passion, mostly seeking revenge, or acts due to his hatred or angst against some person. Acid Attacks are not crimes against a specific gender, and they also differ from place to place, where the gender of the victims is not something specific. We also looked at some means, which can possibly help to create awareness and deterrence among people and work towards the curbing of acid attacks.

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