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Acid Violence and Medical Care in Bangladesh: Women's Activism as Carework

NCJ Number
Gender & Society Volume: 17 Issue: 2 Dated: April 2003 Pages: 305-313
Afroza Anwary
Date Published
April 2003
9 pages
This article discusses how carework for women victims of acid attacks was developed and how feminist groups have generated regional and international support for victims.
Acid violence occurs in Bangladesh, Pakistan, China, Ethiopia, and historically in Europe. Most acid attacks, made by men, are directed at the faces of young women to destroy their personal appearance. As a result, victims’ psyches are debilitated and the disfigurement negatively affects every aspect of their lives. Survivors experience social isolation, encounter difficulty finding work, and, if unmarried, lose the opportunity to marry. The lack of medical care, absence of alternative institutions for victims rejected by their families, failure of the government to enforce laws against the attackers, and rapid globalization have assisted local feminist groups’ efforts to publicize acid victimization. When the Government of Bangladesh failed to provide basic medical care to acid survivors, local activists contacted international activists using new technology and pressured the government into providing necessary medical care to victims. Interaction between the State and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) has made international resources available to acid survivors in domestic social struggles. A network of women’s groups was the first to broaden its concerns for acid victimization by using dramatic personal testimonies of acid survivors to regularly communicate in the international arena. Bangladesh and international human rights activists were linked through the frequent exchange of publications, visits, e-mails, letters, and postings on the Internet. High visibility of acid victims in this arena, protest in the cities, and pressure from international donor organizations to whom the government turns for financial help forced the government to provide medical care to acid victims. Support from international agencies is crucial due to the availability of resources for victims and local activists. 17 references