Numbers released in London this week reveal that there were 1,500 acid attacks in the city from 2011 to 2016.
The frequency of the attacks, which involve an attacker throwing acid onto a victim, are on the rise with 431 occurring in 2016 compared to 261 in 2015. During the past decade, the number of acid attacks has risen 50 percent in the United Kingdom.
Worldwide, most of the victims of acid attacks are female, yet an estimated seven out of 10 acid attack victims in London are male. The attacks are believed to be attributable to gang activity where, according to a former gang member, they have become “acceptable” due to the ease of access to the components required to create the weapon.
Jaf Shah, executive director of the support group Acid Survivors Trust International, told the Guardian: “Looking at the data in general, there is a fairly large probability that a high percentage of the incidents are male-on-male attacks and most likely to be gang-related.
“The numbers appear to be very high and suggest an increase, which is very concerning.”
Although acid attacks usually target victims’ faces, burning them, damaging skin tissue, and often exposing and sometimes dissolving bones, a former gang member claimed that they were not viewed as a “big deal”.
Despite his perspective, injuries can be so scarring that victims suffer serious psychological damage as a result of the attacks.
“People don’t think of the consequences,” he said. “It’s easy to buy most of the ingredients legally…One of my cousins was done a few years ago. He was attacked on his shoulder and my uncle just dressed it for him at home.”
“Acid is used as an extreme mark of dominance. It’s letting the individual know I haven’t killed you, but it’s almost worse than that, it’s a mark–on your face. It’s a sinister legacy.”
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