Islamabad - Punjab has the highest level of Acid attack incidents in Pakistan and the number of cases is concentrated mostly in cotton producing districts, says a study conducted by a leading non-governmental organisation working on Acid violence.

The study highlights that cotton producing districts, including Multan, Muzaffargarh, Rahim Yaar Khan, and Bahawalpur report the highest number of Acid attacks. It cites poor implementation on Poisons Act 1919 as one of the causes of high prevalence of the crime that results in easily availability of acid in the market on low cost.  

The study launched yesterday ‘Situational Analysis on Acid Violence, 2015 (SAAV-2015)’, has been conducted by Acid Survivors Foundation (ASF) in collaboration with the National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) under a project funded by the Delegation of the European Union (DEU).

The report reveals that from 2007 to June 2015, about 1231 people suffered acid violence in the country while 1004 acid attacks were reported.  It says that most of the victims are women between the age of 17 to 30 and about 31 per cent of them are men.

South Punjab is on the top with 643 cases of acid violence reported in the past eight years, following central Punjab with 202 cases, Sindh 40, Balochistan 34, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 27, Azad Jammu and Kashmir 3 while the whereabouts of 282 cases remain unknown. Since January to June this year 60 cases of acid violence have been reported so far, it says.

ASF Consultant Caroline Bates who shared the findings said escalation of domestic abuse, broader family disputes and rejected marriage family proposals as the main reasons of Acid attacks on women. While attacks on men are usually promoted by business, commercial and land disputes.   However, improvements have been noticed in the situation after the introduction of amendments in laws after 2010-11, when acid, kerosene, and petrol burning included in Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), she said.   

Now the cases of acid violence are heard under Anti-Terrorism Act of section 6 and 7 and stringent punishments are awarded to the culprits that are showing its overall positive impact on the situation and prevalence of crime, she said.   The study recommends the federal government to initiate monitoring and reporting of the cases at a national level along with the criminal law reforms.

It also urge the provincial governments to bring legislative and policy reforms, allocate cases to Anti-Terrorism Courts, institutionalise survivors’ rights, establish survivors’ fund, and regulate, storage and distribution of acid.