Press Release - January 27, 2011
Legal and health professionals issue first comparative study of acid violence against women in Bangladesh, India, and Cambodia
Avon Global Center and Cornell Law Clinic join with New York City Bar Association and Virtue Foundation to recommend concrete steps governments and businesses can take to combat acid violence, a horrific form of violence committed against women in many countries
The report is the culmination of a nearly two-year collaborative effort among the Avon Global Center for Women and Justice at Cornell Law School, the New York City Bar Association, the Cornell International Human Rights Clinic, and the Virtue Foundation.
Acids used to commit attacks are available for purchase on street corners in Bangladesh, India, and Cambodia, countries where acid attacks occur at relatively high rates. "An important way to curb intentional attacks on women's bodies with acid is to limit the easy availability of acid," said Professor Sital Kalantry, Associate Clinical Professor and Faculty Director of the Avon Global Center for Women and Justice at Cornell Law School.
Even when governments fail to act, businesses can play a crucial role in curbing acid misuse. "Evidence suggests that acid attacks occur at higher rates near areas where industries that use acid are located, such as cotton industries in Pakistan and rubber industries in Cambodia," noted Professor Kalantry. The report points out that companies that produce and distribute acid in countries with high rates of acid attacks should ensure that their distributors and local suppliers are following appropriate licensing, safe handling, storage, labeling, transfer, and disposal procedures for acid.
As parties to an international treaty on women's rights, India, Cambodia, and Bangladesh have an obligation to act with due diligence to prevent, investigate, and punish acid violence. Despite this, the report notes that perpetrators of acid attacks enjoy widespread impunity for their crimes. India and Cambodia currently lack specific criminal laws or acid regulations designed to address acid violence. "Governments should bring perpetrators to justice and send a message to society that violence against women will not be tolerated," said Stephen Kass, Chair of the Committee on International Human Rights of the New York City Bar Association.
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