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Interview: Alok Dixit, Founder of an NGO 'Stop Acid Attack' Bolla Alekhya08 August, 2014

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12345 An estimated 1,000 women are attacked with acid every year in India by men who are angry because their advances were refused. The cheap toilet cleaning liquid, easily available at any grocery store, is prominently being used as a weapon of violence against women.
These gruesome attacks are followed by lifelong trauma for the victim. Not only are they scarred physically but also emotionally as a distorted physical appearance makes them outcasts in the society. Life brings you to a helpless situation after such an attack.

In Focus

At such a bizarre time when no one is with acid attack victims, an NGO Stop Acid Attack (SAA) promises to be with them and helps the victims to fight with the difficulties in life.
SAA is a campaign against acid violence, which work as a bridge between survivors and the society. During an interview with Alok Dixit, the founder of SAA, we talked to him in detail about the organisation and its way to help out the acid attack victims.
Question (Q): What is the 'Stop Acid Attack' all about?
Alok Dixit (AD): We started 'Stop Acid Attacks' on 8th March 2013. The purpose was to give a message that is 'Stop Acid Attack' and to start a campaign for it. During the last year we started campaign and we made a team of acid attack survivors and promoted it on social media. We used to go to the places where acid attacks have taken place and used to protest there and used to write about that.
Q: Why people turn into acid attackers and why such attacks are on rise? What does your analysis or observation says?
AD: I also don't have the answer to this question. But, we have collected a data and studied more than 200 cases. In most of the cases the acid attackers are those whom they know or their relatives. In most of the cases the acid attacker does not have a criminal background, it is all an emotional issue. These are the upbringings of society, the learning and prejudice associated with society matters here. In most of the cases rejection has been the major factor for acid attacks. I can't give you the exact reason behind the attacks, but can say one thing that the reason behind it is very emotional.
Q: Are acid attacks a tool of violence against women or the men are also the victims of the same?
AD: No, men's are also the victims of acid attacks, in the recent data we saw that 30 per cent of men are also the victims. Acid is a tool, which is very cheap and and causes a huge damage. Acid attack used to be a very heinous crime, but with time the crime rate in the society has increased drastically, but the judiciary is running at the same pace as before, and it takes several years to get justice. So, the reaction against crime has decreased and the society started accepting criminals.
Q: Are there any specific laws for the welfare of acid attack victims and to deal with the attackers?
AD: There is no specific policy from Central Government's side, but some state government's have formed few policies like giving out 3 lakh compensation etc. But, a complete re-habitation plan is not there and we are striving to get the same.
Q: The Supreme Court has given guidelines to stop the sale of acid. Does that law has some significant impact on the reduction of acid attacks? Why?
AD: There is no official data on it. But if i talk about the ground reality, recently we have done a campaign called 'Shoot Acid', where we went to different places and took the pictures where acid is being sold. And we observed that sale of the acid has not stopped, and the SC's order is not working.
Q: How many cases of acid attacks do you see in an year?
AD: In a recent data which we have collected, we saw that their are almost 200 cases of acid attack in an year. This is the number which has been reported by the media, but there are so many cases which we don't get to know.
Q: What is the treatment cost of acid attack victim?
AD: The treatment cost varies from case to case and depends upon the damage, and the type of acid used. If we take an average, the treatment cost goes upto 20 to 25 lakhs. The treatment of burns is very costly and our country does not have enough infrastructure to cater the burnt patients.
Q: What kind of change do you think the society need to have, that would help the victims of acid attacks lead a normal life?
AD: A social reform is the need of the hour, but we have to see that how we get the social reform. I will give you a small example, almost all the acid attackers are married now and the society has started accepting them. But the victims are not married yet.

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