Activist groups estimate that three acid attacks occur in India every week. And yet the acids used in these attacks are readily available in corner stores, despite the Supreme Court urging Parliament to introduce a plan for regulation. On Tuesday the high court gave Parliament a week to finally act on behalf of India's women, who are the main victims of the attacks, as the world asks: what's being done to end such assaults?
The Short Answer: Nothing
The Supreme Court initially asked Parliament to regulate the sale of acid in February, and has promised to release its own orders if the government fails to meet the July 16 deadline laid out on Tuesday. Hydrochloric acid, which is used as a cleaning solution, can burn through human flesh, but is available at any general store for about 33 cents. After hearing a plea from an acid attack survivor, the court issued a stern ruling condemning the government's failure to curb the sale of acids. “Seriousness is not seen on the part of government in handling the issue,” the Supreme Court said.
The ruling comes two months after 23-year-old Preeti Rathi died of wounds sustained during an acid attack in Mumbai. Rathi had just moved to the city to work as a nurse when a stranger threw acid on her face in the middle of a train station. In the wake of such tragedies, the government's failure to act has been receiving more scrutiny. “People are dying, but you are not worried about it. Think of people who are losing their lives every day. Girls are being attacked every day in different parts of the country,” the Supreme Court said.