Men Burn Women With Acid in Bangladesh

According to a February 16 article published in The Economist, increasing numbers of men in Bangladesh are burning their wives and other women with acid.

Sixteen young women were treated for severe acid burns within a period of just a few days early this year, and the Dhaka Medical College Hospital has seen the average number of victims increase from two to three per week. Some believe the annual number of attacks may be in the hundreds, given that rural attacks are likely to go unreported.

Officials believe that the increase in attacks is due to a male backlash against women who are becoming increasingly confident and independent. Many women have been provided with loans to launch small businesses and have gained financial power and increased social standing in their communities.

21-year-old Asma Begum’s story is a typical one. Begum returned home late from work one night and her husband became irate because his dinner was not prepared. He obtained some sulphuric acid and threw it on her later, while she was sleeping, injuring her and four other women who shared her bed. Begum’s face, chest, and arm were burned.

Chemical burns horribly disfigure victims and often blind them. Most women in Bangladesh can not obtain any plastic or reconstructive surgery.

Government officials in Bangladesh and the U.S. must take steps to restrict the sale of the destructive acids used in these attacks. Sulphuric and other harmful acids are currently very easy to obtain from tanneries, jewelers, and car-battery sellers and others.


The Economist - February 16, 1998

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