The following information has been provided by Atijeevan Foundation. To get in touch with them, write to Atijeevanfoundation@gmail.com or visit their website http://www.atijeevanfoundation.org/
Are you an Acid Attack Survivor or do you know an Acid survivor who is lost in the oblivion of society negligence, then feel free to come forward and get in touch with us. We will try to provide whatever possible help we can provide to say the least.
If you are worried about your name being spread out in public then please don’t be. We do not believe in creating hype of any kind using name of any acid victim and get publicity for that. Whether you want to come forward and show your face to world or not will entirely be your discretion. We will be more than happy to just get in touch with you and connect with you to lessen your pain.
On medical front we are in touch with best plastic surgeons in the country and we will be really happy if we can help you with any advice you may need regarding surgery and post surgery care.
So whatever is you story simply come forward and get in touch with us. Even if we are not able to directly help but we assure you that we will walk with you on the painful path ahead of you.
WHAT IS ACID VIOLENCE?
Acid violence is particularly a vicious and damaging form of violence where acid is thrown on people’s faces. The overwhelming majority of the victims are women. The victims are attacked for many reasons. In some cases it is because a young girl or women has spurned the sexual advances of a male or either she or her parents have rejected a proposal of marriage. Recently, however, there have been acid attacks on children, older women and also men. These attacks are often the result of family and land dispute, dowry demands or a desire for revenge.
The acid burn is usually considered as the third or fourth degree burn as it burns not only the skin but penetrates deep to the fourth layer of skin and damages the tissue in some cases bones as well. Usually the burn wound takes several months to heal properly. Once the wound heels, the scar remain forever. Once the scar covers the wound, it will remain the same size and in many cases, it will resolve over time (usually 3-4 yrs). It irritates in sun or fire or dry weather. On a day-to-day basis, survivors experience limited endurance and deals with numerous discomforts such as skin tightness and severe itching. One has to apply oil or ointment 4-5 times daily to keep the skin moisturised.
As the skin pores are closed due to burn, the skin doesn’t sweat and that makes it very dry. (remember how you feel when your skin gets super dry in winter? They feel it everyday…)
Usually acid patients lose their eye sight either partial or full due to penetration of acid into the eye.
CONSEQUENCES OF ACID ATTACK
Acid is a highly corrosive chemical and has a catastrophic effect on human flesh. It not only melts the tissues but in some cases, bones as well. Many survivors suffer from psychological breakdown including identity crisis because of their lost and distorted appearance. Most stop their education or work during the lengthy recovery period or beyond, due to disfigurement. Survivors often face social isolation which further damage their self esteem and socio-economic status, even position in their own family. An unmarried woman attacked with acid is very unlikely to get married ever. The acid survivor is not the only one affected. Parents, siblings and other relatives often incur a huge economic, social and psychological burden in caring for the survivor. Instances were reported where families sold their land and assets to pay for medical care. Many are forced to leave their house and village, due to fear of safety, especially for fear of retaliation against legal action. In the cases, where victims are children or adolescents, special physical and psycho-social supports are needed for them as they grow and mature with these incurable scars. Apart from the scars on their face, they struggle with society too!!! Conservative people of the society make them scarier.
The Biggest Myth – Plastic surgery repairs anything
There is no doubt how heinous this crime is and the judiciary system should come up with exemplary punishments in these cases to set precedent in the society to deter the offenders. The government should also take cognizance of this issue before it gets out of control like rape or murder and bring in necessary amendments to the law. Society on the other had should come forward to support the victims in all possible ways.
Our society needs mature and progressive people who look and think beyond the mere physical appearance. Instead of hiding their children from Burn patients, they should make them understand that it happens to some unfortunate people and they should not be scared and run away from them. Instead they should help them, talk to them, smile at them.
HOW MANY ACID ATTACKS ARE WE TALKING ABOUT?
There is no official data available on number of acid attacks in India. Unfortunately, in India, due to lack of awareness on this issue, there are not enough NGOs or social groups to study the frequency of such attacks. It is difficult to obtain accurate statistics because most people live in rural communities that are relatively isolated and mechanisms to gather information from these communities is weak. But there is evidence of Media reports to indicate that there is an alarming increase in the number of reported acid attacks incidents. In 2013-14 Media Reported 4-5 acid attacks every month,in 2014-15 it was 4-5 reported acid attacks every month. We are sure there would be many more of which we do not know.
Initially we found that there should be a track of acid attacks and Survivors in India. As there is no strict law on acid attack, the accused feel free to pour acid and take revenge. We started with few volunteers and start tracing the acid attacks. We contacted all the survivors and queried about their medical and legal issues. In the conversations to survivors and lawyers we came to know that most of the accused are walking free on road and it’s the survivor and her family who is suffering. Due to ignorance of the government and civil society, most of such survivors find no hope and stay quite inside the four walls. We work to make the Survivor’s life better , as most of the victims of this brutal crime, which is much more grave in its impact than a rape, have isolated themselves after losing their face.
LAW IN INDIA ON ACID ATTACKS
326A. Whoever causes permanent or partial damage or deformity to, or burns or maims or disfigures or disables, any part or parts of the body of a person or causes grievous hurt by throwing acid on or by administering acid to that person, or by using any other means with the intention of causing or with the knowledge that he is likely to cause such injury or hurt, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than ten years but which may extend to imprisonment for life, and with fine:
Provided that such fine shall be just and reasonable to meet the medical expenses of the treatment of the victim:
Provided further that any fine imposed under this section shall be paid to the victim.
326B. Whoever throws or attempts to throw acid on any person or attempts to administer acid to any person, or attempts to use any other means, with the intention of causing permanent or partial damage or deformity or burns or maiming or disfigurement or disability or grievous hurt to that person, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than five years but which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine
Compensation for acid attack
Section 357B has been newly inserted in Cr PC which reads as :
“The compensation payable by the State Government under section 357A shall be in addition to the payment of fine to the victim under section 326A or section 376D of the Indian Penal Code.”
Free Medical Treatment
357C has been newly inserted whereby all hospitals,public or private are required to provide first aid or medical treatment free of cost. The section reads as:
“All hospitals, public or private, whether run by the Central Government, the State Government, local bodies or any other person, shall immediately, provide the first-aid or medical treatment, free of cost, to the victims of any offence covered under section 326A, 376, 376A, 376B, 376C, 376D or section 376E of the Indian Penal Code and shall immediately inform the police of such incident.”
What we do – We strongly believe that mere charity and money giving is only the first step towards a solution for this issue, as the acid attack crime leads to extreme social alienation of the victim. Most of these victimized women are deemed unfit for marriage or employment due to the permanent disfigurement of their faces. We allow such victims the opportunity to not only earn their own livelihoods, but also to find and embrace their own sense of dignity and self-worth.
- Helpline – We have a dedicated Helpline available, which will respond to any distress or First aid call from victims or their families. We will alert the local authorities, hospitals etc. for faster and timely response or you can email us – Atijeevanfoundation@gmail.com
- Rehabilitation of Victims: Victims of acid attacks need assistance in dealing with the trauma. We work towards the comprehensive rehabilitation of such victims. We analyze their social background, education and circumstances and recommend and bring about positive changes that can ensure rehabilitation of victims.
- Psychological Counselling: Our team of psychological counselors and acid survivors who helps and guides the Survivor during the treatment and reduce the trauma of whatever they have gone through. Our aim is to help build the Survivors self-confidence again .
- Legal Counselling & Support: We have a group of Legal experts and renowned Lawyers of Supreme court to help the Survivors fight the legal battle.
- Employment Opportunity Creation: We generate employment opportunities for Survivors either in our own office or create work for them to do at convenience of their Home as all the Survivors face health issues and cannot go out to work. We ensure that the psychological stress and stigma attached to being a victim of such crimes doesn’t necessarily result in a financial crisis for the victim or their families.
- Education & Sensitization: We aim at conducting Seminars and Workshops to spread awareness about the acid violence and First aid/ treatment for the same and ways for women to remain safe. Our aim is to sensitize the general public to stand up against this growing menace and turn our society into one where there is no Acid violence.
Our vision is to free India from this crime, which reflects the flaws of our male-dominated culture and abusive attitudes. We want survivors to have access to fast justice and fight back the irreparable impact of this crime with ample support and find a regular source of Income for themselves with us.
Recommended First Aid for Acid Burn (or any Burn) Patients
It is very necessary to get a first aid as soon as possible. Otherwise in worst cases the acid penetrates to the bone which could be fatal for patient’s life.
1. The most important First Aid is to immediately wash affected body part of patient with plenty of fresh or saline water.
2. Don’t rinse the burn area with dirty water as it can cause severe infection.
3. Keep flushing the affected burn area with plenty of cool water,(not very cold) until the patient’s burning sensation starts fading. It may take 30-45 minutes.
4. Remove all the jewelry or clothing which had contact with acid.
5. Don’t apply any kind of cream, ointment on the affected area as it may slow the treatment procedure by doctors.
6. If possible, use sterilized gauze to loosely wrap the affected area. The gauze protects the skin from air, debris, dirt and contamination.
7. Rush the patient to a burn specialty hospital having isolated wards for burn patients
Points to Remember during treatment of wounds
While the treatments of wound are going on in the hospital, kin of acid burn patients should understand the importance of following listed points. Usually the doctors/nurse treating the patients should take care but it is good for the attendants of burn patient to be doubly sure. And in case there is any negligence, bring the issue to correct authority notice.
The most common cause of death for acid burn patients is Infection. The burn skin is very sensitive and can be very easily infected if not taken care and cleaned properly. Hence throughout the course of treatment, a strict hygiene has to be maintained until the wounds are completely healed. The room and washroom used by patients should be thoroughly cleaned with disinfectant 2-3 times a day. Food containers used for carrying patients food should be properly sterilized before use. Outside food is strict no.
2. Proper Dressing
Utmost care has to be maintained while doing dressing for movable body parts. It has to be ensured that burnt skin do not come in contact with each other, otherwise they would stick with each other leading to handicap.
Due to acid burn nerves under skin get permanently damaged leading to inability in the movement of body parts. If ignored it can lead to physical handicap. Hence regular sessions of physiotherapy is important to ensure that nerves are trained properly and body part remain movable
4. Skin Grafting
The surgery perform to cover the open flesh with a skin, taken from the other part of the body like thigh or lower back where there is no burn.
SKIN BANKS – If you wish to donate your skin, do get in touch with a skin bank. To know more about skin donation, visit http://www.burns-india.com/skindonation.htm
5. Protein Rich Food
Burned body needs lot of protein and carbohydrates for damaged tissues to heel. Consult the hospital nutritionist to arrange for proper deit for the patient throughout the course of treatment.
6. Hemoglobin Check
Since lot of blood is lost due to burn injury, it results in very low hemoglobin level. Doctors cannot perform any surgery if hemoglobin is low. Hence patients should take diet which aids in building hemoglobin level and in some case blood transfusion should also be considered.
7. Corrective Surgery
After the burn would heal a series of corrective surgery are required for correcting the contracted skin, reconstructing the burnt body parts like eyebrow, nostrils, ear holes etc depending on feasibility. A good plastic surgeon should be consulted for planning out the sequence of operation.
Long Term Care
1) One needs to take care of the skin after the wounds heal post surgery so that the scarred tissues settle well.
Following three simple techniques have shown good results.
a) Regular Massage – with Scar gels and coconut oil, two times each daily.
b) Gell sheet- to be applied on affected area at least for 12 hrs a day.
c) Pressure Garment- to wear for at least 10-12 hrs a day.
Patients should be provided good counseling support as the long course of treatment, pain, social stigma has a very detrimental effect on their self esteem. In most cases they loose hope to live and be back again in the society. There are several instances when the acid burn patients have bounced back in life. Citing such examples help the patients to regain faith and look ahead for their log battle with life.
3) Social Reintegration Support
In many cases acid burn patients are disowned by their kins due to social stigma attached to the patients. The expensive cost of treatment is another reason. Without proper social re integration support patients tend to alienate them selves from the society. They should be persuaded to step outside and participate in all the day to day activities that they can. Following are few important ways to enable social reintegration of the patients
Patients may need to travel to various cities(usually metros) and hospitals due to various surgery needs. In many cases they cannot afford shelter for themselves and theirs family members at these locations. They should be provided shelter during the treatment course and also after that.
b) Occupational Training
Making the patients financially independents is a very effective in re installing confidence in them. With proper occupational training they can work and earn money for them and their families. This increases their self esteem and motivates them to look ahead in life.
c) Education support
Several acid burn patients come from very weaker section of the society and they may not have proper education. Providing educational support opens new options for them and makes their chance of rehabilitation better.
Some Informations on burns (Knowledge should always be shared, please do that)
SCAR GELS – It softens the scars. However It is effective on only One out of Five skin types.
SILICON GEL SHEET – It reduces the redness and softens the scar tremendously.The Brand is very important for best results. Unfortunately many Doctors are not aware of this.
ALOE VERA GEL – Helps in lightning and moisturizing the skin/graft .
TEA TREE OIL – Helps in Lightning the skin color. But effective in Two out of Five skin Types
TISSUE EXPANDER – It helps in getting the hairline and Normal skin to some area. Though It’s a bit painful and Lengthy process.
Two Breakthrough in the area of Burns :
SKIN TRANSPANT FOR SEVERE BURN– Prevents Infection, Fastens the healing process, decreases Pain and Improves Immunity in Burn Patients if treated in initial stage.
FACE TRANSPLANT – Face transplants are theoretically possible to do in India-BUT no surgeon has yet done it – because it requires a lot of time, money and effort!!-But the day is not far when face transplants will be done in India with tremendous results.