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What is acid violence?

It is a particularly vicious and damaging form of premeditated violence where a corrosive chemical, usually sulphuric, nitric or hydrochloric acid is intentionally thrown in the face or on the body of a victim causing skin tissue to melt, frequently exposing the bones and often resulting death, blindness or acute disfigurement. ASFU registered 425 victims of acid violence as at December 2013. Of these, 54.4% are females and children while 45.6% males.

Acid attacks are usually not spontaneous acts of anger. The perpetrator plans the attack by obtaining the acid, carrying it safely, and stalking the victim. Acid violence is often motivated by feelings of anger and revenge out of conflict. The perpetrator blames the victims for the problem and wants to inflict as much physical and mental suffering as possible. The perpetrator usually does not desire to kill the victim, but wants to make the victim suffer forever.

Causes Of Acid Violence

Acid violence is often motivated by revenge in a variety of circumstances such as land disputes, family or marital disagreements, business conflicts and robbery. There are cases of mistaken identity, malicious attacks on innocent children and bystanders. One of the biggest contributing factors to the prevalence of acid violence in Uganda is free access to corrosive chemicals. If measures to restrict acid are not put in place, acid violence will escalate out of control.

Effects of Acid Violence

Effects of acid violence are far reaching. In Uganda, very concentrated acid is often used leading to third degree burns.
Effects include but are not limited to; Long term ill health, Disfigurement/ Disability, Poverty, Break up of families, Loss of employment, among others.

Of the total cases registered to date, 61.9% are severely disfigured and 13.4% have died. ASFU therefore seeks to address these challenges and work towards reducing or eliminating incidence of acid violence in Uganda.

imageAcid has not spared innocent children. 11% of the registered victims of acid violence are child survivors. These children have been attacked as a result of being with their parents at the time of the attack or even some being targeted as a means to hurt the parents. The other children are affected when their parents are admitted in hospital for a long time. A case where the victim is a breadwinner has left the children with lack of the basic necessities. Not forgetting the trauma caused to the children because of the physical disfigurement impact.

In Uganda, acid is used in car batteries, school laboratories and factories in goods' production. Acid can also be cheaply and easily obtained from vendors and transported from one place to another without drawing attention. A culture of impunity surrounds acid violence. In the majority of cases, offenders escape trial and conviction. Furthermore, Government of Uganda has not yet fully acknowledged acid violence as a serious crime that is crippling society. By so doing, the penal code is used in prosecuting crimes of acid violence. There have been instances where perpetrators have been sentenced to even three months in prison. This, in turn, encourages potential perpetrators to commit the crime believing that they will not be convicted at all.