In parts of the developing world – particularly south-east Asia, the south Asian subcontinent and east Africa – acid attacks are common. The Taliban and fellow extremists have frequently resorted to throwing acid in women's faces for even small transgressions, such as daring to go out unveiled. But there are concerns that such attacks may also be on the increase in the UK.How wonderful! How vibrant and enriched I feel!
Hospital admission figures for the past three years show a steady rise in the number of people being treated for acid attacks. According to the NHS information centre, 44 people were admitted to hospital in 2006-07 after they were "assaulted with a corrosive substance". The following year the figure jumped to 67 and last year there were 69 admissions.Can we draw any inferences from the details of the perpetrators and victims?
The figures only include hospital admissions where a patient had to spend one night or more in hospital and there is no ethnic breakdown.Really..?
That’s a little odd, don’t you think, given the state’s obsessive need to keep stats on these sorts of things?
Acid Survivors Trust International, a charity which specialises in helping victims of acid attacks in places like Bangladesh and Pakistan, recently began work on a project documenting such attacks in Britain. It is the first serious attempt to map where acid assaults take place and what motivates their British perpetrators.I wonder if they will provide the detail that is unaccountably missing from the NHS and police records?
Rick Trask, the charity's UK-based researcher, said it would be some time before they really knew whether acid attacks were an increasing problem but that enough evidence existed to warrant an initial investigation.It’s hard to think that there could be people attacked in this way who would be able to hide it, though, which is a small crumb of comfort…
"It's hard to pin down exact numbers because they are held across different departments, such as NHS trusts and police," he said. "The question we need to ask is whether the few cases we know about are the tip of the iceberg."
However, Mr Trask doesn’t want to be seen to point fingers at any one culture:
Mr Trask was keen to highlight that acid attacks happen across a range of different countries, cultures and religions. "You get attacks in Buddhist Cambodia, among Christians in Uganda and across south Asia, which has many different religions," he said. "It's not specific to one culture or another. But what they almost always do have in common is some sort of gender-based violence and the desire to permanently disfigure their victims."‘Not specific to one culture or another’, eh? I can see one culture left out of the list, however…
As Subrosa points out, in order to crack down on this sort of medieval savagery, it will be necessary to first ensure that the apologists and excusers are no longer in the driving seat.