|LETTER TO EDITOR
|Year : 2022 | Volume
| Issue : 4 | Page : 400
Time to focus on acid attack survivors
Unmana Dutta1, Anu Teotia1, Navin Kumar2
1 Amity Institute of Psychology & Allied Sciences, Amity University, Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India
2 Bhim Rao Ambedkar College, Delhi University, Delhi, India
|Date of Submission||07-Nov-2022|
|Date of Decision||12-Nov-2022|
|Date of Acceptance||24-Nov-2022|
|Date of Web Publication||30-Jan-2023|
Amity Institute of Psychology & Allied Sciences, Amity University, Noida, Uttar Pradesh
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Dutta U, Teotia A, Kumar N. Time to focus on acid attack survivors. Ann Indian Psychiatry 2022;6:400
As per the data of the National Crime Records Bureau, there have been 228, 249, and 182 acid attacks, respectively, in the year 2018, 2019, and 2020, with states such as West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh, leading the number of attacks. Acid attack is the act of throwing acid on the victim with the intention to cause permanent damage, deformity, and disfigurement to the parts of the body. Most victims of acid attacks are women, where acid is used as a weapon to silence her and "keep her in her place." Lack of strict laws and punishment for criminals has made acid attacks a heinous crime.
The effects of such crimes are so grave on the victim that there are physical, psychological, and social implications. They have visible scars on their physical body, some lose their eyesight, and some even having burn marks over the neck, torso, and back. As psychological effects, these victims report high levels of anxiety and depression, low self-esteem, and difficulties in forming relationships. Socially, they have difficulty finding a stable source of income, have decreased job and relationship opportunities. Many victims also report of suicidal ideation due to feelings of isolation from the rest of the world. Some victims also report fear of being reattacked, due to the nonidentification of the attacker. Even though laws related to acid attack survivors getting free treatment in government-run hospitals have started, there is no provision for mental health support to such victims. Moreover, the focus of postattack recovery is so much on physical recovery, that the mental health effects of such an attack go unquestioned.
The current Indian scenario depicts the long-standing cultural norms of women as the weaker gender, who need to be emotionally viable and dominated by men. For this, their beauty is targeted for harm by acid attack and after the acid attack as well, their mental health does not find a space, as the goal of the victim and family is to make her look as the way she used to look, before the attack.
It is now time that there are better interventions for rehabilitation, with policy changes, for making therapy available for the better mental health of these survivors. With the focus on trauma counseling for these survivors, there is also a need for more adaptation interventions. There should be more skills-based training for the survivors so that they can be absorbed in various job opportunities. More awareness among the general public about the existence of such heinous crimes and outreach programs to help such victims are the need of the hour. Moreover, a collaborative effort from the medical and mental health team can help in better recovery of the victim. Psychoeducation must be done for the family members to make them aware about the psychological impact of such attacks on the survivors. Group interventions should be tailor-made and implemented on these survivors, with different goals or who are in different stages of their trauma. It is only when mental health support is given to these survivors, and then there would be complete empowerment.
Acid attack survivors are victims of such heinous crimes, who need both physical and mental health rehabilitation. It is now time to focus on these victims as they go through a lot of physical and mental pain, in silence. There is a need for more awareness and attention among psychologists to work on such survivors, to empower them, despite their trauma and suffering.
Financial support and sponsorship
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
| References|| |
National Crime Records Bureau. Crime in India. Statistics. Vol. 1. New Delhi: Ministry of Home Affairs; 2020.
Anwary A. Acid violence and medical care in Bangladesh: Women's activism as carework. Gend Soc 2003;17:305-6.
Bajpai M, Singh S. Acid attack: A burning issue in India. Galgotias J Legal Stud 2015;3:1-15.
Sabzi Khoshnami M, Mohammadi E, Addelyan Rasi H, Khankeh HR, Arshi M. Conceptual model of acid attacks based on survivor's experiences: Lessons from a qualitative exploration. Burns 2017;43:608-18.
Qazi R, Khan S, Akhtar T, Butt TA. Psychosocial correlates of suicidal ideation in acid attack survivors. Pak J Physiol 2019;15:31-4.