Last year, the London Metropolitan Police reported that 465 ‘acid attacks’ had been carried out in the city in just 12 months.

That’s 465 separate incidents involving a person (or group of people) dousing somebody with highly corrosive chemicals.

If that fact shocks you, it should also concern you to know that the number is growing.

The amount of reported attacks has increased five-fold over the last six years. In 2016, the Met recorded 395 cases of acid attack. This was itself a sharp increase from 2015, wherein 255 incidents were reported.

Accurate statistics for the whole of the UK are hard to come by. This is partly because many attacks go unreported. An Essex-based study found that only 9 in 21 victims sought criminal charges against their attackers.

In 2013, the BBC reported that the amount of acid attacks recorded worldwide was an estimated 1,500 per year. Even more damning, the actual figure is likely to be considerably higher. Today, the UK has one of the highest rates of acid violence found anywhere in the world.

In this feature, we will take a deeper look at this most malicious and cowardly act; why these attacks happen, who is most at risk from them and what can be done to treat people who have experienced an acid attack.

Acid attacks are a difficult subject to discuss. But discuss them we must, at ALL levels of British society. Only then, as a community united against hatred, can we truly begin to do something about them.

What is an

The term ‘acid attack’ refers to the premeditated use of any corrosive substance (usually hydrochloric or sulphuric acids) to damage the face or body of another person.

The results of an acid attack can range from minor, yet painful, burns to permanent facial disfigurement, blindness or even death. Although acid attacks are usually not homicidal in nature, some victims have died as a result of their ordeals (most commonly after their wounds became infected). 

Acid crime in the UK has a long and sad history. The UK’s first acid attack (possibly the first worldwide) was reported in 1736.

Beginning in earnest after ‘oil of vitriol’ (today known as sulphuric acid) was first manufactured and used on a large scale, acid attacks blighted 18th and 19th century Britain.

In Victorian Britain, jilted women sometimes used acid against the men who had crossed them. Known as vitriolage, it was a cruel punishment indeed. If it seems unfair to single women out, it is worth noting that between the years of 1837 and 1913, almost twice as many women stood trial at the Old Bailey for committing this crime than men.

Perhaps there is a link between the marginalised, downtrodden women of Victorian society and today’s ignored and often denigrated inner city youths?

By 1938, attacks were still common enough that ‘Brighton Rock’ author Graham Greene had his psychopathic protagonist Pinkie Brown carry a bottle of acid around for use against his enemies. 

Today, acid attacks occur all over the world. They are common in some heavily patriarchal societies as a way for misogynistic males to ‘punish’ women for perceived transgressions (a darkly ironic twist on the Victorian example given above).  In the UK, however, most victims are young men.

Although some UK incidents do appear to be gang related, a great many acid attacks are perpetrated against general members of the public who have no ties at all with gangs or gang culture. In some cases, the attacks are of a totally random nature, in others, they occur as part of the mugging or car jacking of an unsuspecting victim.

Criminologist Simon Harding of Middlesex University has stated that he believes acid attacks have increased in frequency in response to the rise in knife crime. If gang members believe that their rivals are carrying knives, then they may use acid as a form of ‘pre-emptive strike’ against them. However other commentators have suggested that the recent crackdowns on knife and gun crime have made traditional weapons harder to obtain, thus forcing violent criminals to look elsewhere for a way to harm their victims. On balance, both assertions could be correct.

The About Acid Attacks

High profile acid attack victims have included an investigative reporter working for The Sun newspaper, as well as model and TV presenter Katie Piper, whose attack left her permanently scarred and blind in one eye (her vision has since been restored and Piper has subsequently become a spokesperson against acid violence).

However, victims are many and varied.

Last year, a British-Pakistani man, Imran Khan, was delivering a pizza when a gang of teenagers accosted him. The group assaulted Khan, hurled racial epithets at him and then sprayed his face with acid from a Lucozade bottle. He received scarring and severe burns.

Attacks in and around the same area included an incident on a tube train, another that took place during a football match and at least two carjackings. Elsewhere in London, shop assistant Naomi Oni was permanently scarred in a particularly malicious attack. The perpetrator was a former friend whom she had once referred to as ‘ugly’.

In 2017, five teenage boys were sprayed with acid at Ockendon Rail Station. Their attacker, a 17-year-old, received 8 years’ prison sentence.

Three years earlier, in 2014, another Londoner, Wayne Ingold, opened the door to a teenager who then threw acid in his face. His initial disfigurement was so severe that a police officer vomited upon arriving at the scene. Mr. Ingold’s attacker, a 15-year-old convicted drug dealer, had gotten the wrong address.

Acid attacks, however, are not limited to the capital. In recent years, there was a case of mistaken identity in Cornwall that led to permanent disfigurement, a drug-related attack in Dorset and an incident in Southampton whereby a mother-of-six was attacked.

In 2015, 29-year-old Mark Van Dongen was paralysed from the neck down, brutally disfigured and all-but blinded after his then-girlfriend threw acid at him. It took Van Dongen 5 gruelling months to regain his speech. After losing the use of his arms and then being told that he required a procedure that carried with it a 95% chance that he would never speak again, Van Dongen instead opted to travel to a euthanasia clinic in Belgium and end his life. His father told Bristol Crown Court that, “He completed his application for euthanasia. He said that, ‘My life has come to nothing and there is nothing left…He said, ‘All I have is a different ceiling to look at’.”

Victims of acid attacks have included the elderly (statistics reveal the over-75’s to be especially vulnerable) and, most distressingly, even young children. The list of attacks certainly makes for a sobering read – and it is growing every day.

Collating data compiled over a 15-year period, the Metropolitan Police have been able to reveal that the suspect in a typical acid attack case is usually male (around 74% of cases examined) and often young. The victims, too, are more often male (67% of cases) than female. However, the race of both attacker and victim varies wildly.

A common misconception has it that acid attacks are a problem within London’s Asian community, with some dismissing the incidents as ‘honour’ attacks. However, the statistics don’t bear this out. Through a freedom of information request since 2012, 86% of acid attack victims didn’t have any relationship with their perpetrator.  

Such attacks do occur in other parts of the world, but in the UK, only one such ‘honour’ attack has been reported in 15 years. In addition, just 6% of suspects were of Asian origin.

According to the Met’s official statistics, 32% of acid attack suspects were white, whilst 38% were of African Caribbean origin. Detective Superintendent Mike West, speaking to the BBC late last year, added, “It’s very mixed (suspects come from) from various religions, backgrounds, different victims, different offenders.”

Most damningly, the same study found that 4 out of 5 of cases never reached trial.

So, what could drive somebody to perform such an unspeakable act upon another human being?

Mohammed Jawad, a plastic surgeon who operated on Katie Piper’s face and also works with victims in South Asia, told the BBC that acid attacks are a way of denying a person’s basic identity, “The attacker is saying: ‘I don’t want to kill her, I am going to do something to distort her.’ “

Acid attacks, then, are a crime that targets a person’s identity and self-image.

An ex-gang member, speaking to The Guardian in 2015 said, “People don’t think of the consequences. 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.”

Intimidation makes up a big part of acid violence. Perhaps this goes some way towards explaining why the vast majority of cases never see trial. It appears to be partly because it is difficult for people to identify their assailants and partly because victims are often unwilling to press charges.

As one victim, who also talked to The Guardian, said, “I just didn’t want any backlash. It’s just me and my mum you see … I didn’t want her to be attacked”. She went on to voice fears that her attacker was well connected in the community.

In almost all cases, the survivor is left deeply disturbed by their ordeal. Acid attack victims have described being afraid to leave the house, as well as feelings of alienation and even prejudice from society. The disfigurement is often permanent, greatly disrupting a person’s sense of self. Truly, this is a life changing crime, an odious assault that indelibly marks not only the victim’s face, but also their psyche.

Motives for attacks can vary from gang-related disputes, to cases of mistaken identity. Disturbingly often, attacks are carried out as a result of females rejecting the sexual advances of males.

One self-described acid attacker, interviewed by Vice in 2017, vividly described an incident in which his friend attacked the mother of a rival’s children. With chilling frankness, the interviewee describes the assault itself, as well as the minor events that led to it.

“[We] went to a rave, met some ‘ops’ (enemy) there. We were just fighting in the club. A couple of days later I just randomly see the ops and his baby mum. They’re there at Tesco, just shopping so I was like, ‘cool’. I ran to my boy who was in the car. My boy bought a bottle, like a Lucozade bottle. I was like, ‘what’s that?’ He was like ‘don’t worry, fam. Just come, let’s go, let’s go’. I’m racking up the guy, just punching him and whatnot. And my boy, he just undid the bottle and he just splashed the girl.”

He then added: “Like if I can’t damage you enough I’m coming for your people.”

The cost of treating an acid attack victim, which often includes treatments such as plastic surgery, specialist burn treatment, eye care, rehabilitation and psychological help, can cost the NHS as much as £34,000 per patient.

Dr. Avinash De Sousa, writing for the Indian Journal of Plastic Surgery, suggests that, “It has been noted that patients with orofacial trauma were more likely to report symptoms of depression, anxiety, and hostility (…) Depression places the patient at increased risk for suicide, poor compliance with treatment and poor rehabilitation outcome. This in turn will affect the quality of life and recovery from the facial trauma”

Types of by Attackers

By far the most common type of acid used in acid attacks is sulphuric acid. Hydrochloric acid is also commonly used, although it is somewhat less damaging to the victims. Here, we will examine the different types of acid used, as well as the effects they can have on human skin.

Sulphuric acid – The original ‘oil of vitriol’, sulphuric acid is both colourless and odourless and is therefore an easy chemical for attackers to conceal. The key component in sulphuric acid is sulphur dioxide. Sulphur dioxide is formed when sulphur and oxygen are combined, this can then be specially refined (via a method known as the contact process) to produce sulphuric acid.

The resulting acid is then used for a wide variety of things, including making fertiliser, processing metals (notably copper and zinc), wastewater processing and the making of batteries. It is even used in the manufacture of other acids, such as hydrofluoric and phosphoric acids. Sulphuric acid is readily available in the form of drain cleaners, where it can be used to eat away at whatever happens to be clogging the pipes.

Exposing this substance to skin causes severe burns and intense pain. It can also cause blindness if enough of it enters the eyes. Sulphuric acid can even wear away tooth enamel. This chemical also gives off fumes that can cause pulmonary edema (water in the lungs). Despite all this, it is a cheap and easily obtainable substance.

Hydrofluoric Acid – Although it looks just like water, a high enough dose of hydrofluoric acid can be fatal after just five minutes. An especially corrosive solution, hydrofluoric acid is created from hydrogen fluoride gas, an extremely acute poison in its own right. In its aqueous form, hydrofluoric acid is an extremely potent contact-poison with the potential for initially painless, yet very deep burns that ultimately cause tissue death. When it comes into contact with human skin, this substance reacts with blood calcium, causing systemic toxicity and then cardiac arrest, often resulting in death.

Uses for hydrofluoric acid include the dissolving of rock samples (often to obtain delicate fossils within), glass etching, the separation of salt and even rust removal. Hydrofluoric acid can be found (in smaller percentages) in toilet bowl and bathroom cleaners and (in safe amounts) as an ingredient in common household products such as shampoo.

Hypofluorous_acid.svg

Ammonia – Another corrosive substance that is cheap and easily available is ammonia. A compound of nitrogen and hydrogen, ammonia is a naturally occurring (and highly corrosive) gas, found all over Earth and throughout the solar system. It is lighter than air and has a pungent, noxious smell. In its liquid form, ammonia can be used in the manufacture of fertilisers, the creation of a great many chemical compounds, as a fuel and also as an antimicrobial agent used in the preparation of food products. It is commonly found in oven cleaners, window cleaners, floor cleaners and drain cleaners and is therefore easy to obtain.

Hydrochloric Acid – Used to process steel, as well as sugar and gelatine, hydrochloric acid is a naturally occurring stomach acid found in humans. Fashioned from hydrogen and chlorine, the substance is a gas at room temperature, but becomes hydrochloric acid when dissolved in water. A key ingredient in toilet cleaners, as well as brick and patio cleaners, hydrochloric acid is, like everything else on this list, highly corrosive and extremely dangerous when exposed to a person’s eyes or face. Exposure can cause blisters, burns and even loss of vision if it enters the eyes.

Sodium hypochlorite – Formed via a combination of a sodium cation and a hypochlorite anion, sodium hypochlorite becomes liquid bleach when dissolved in water. It is most commonly used in household bleach, but also turns up in disinfectants and deodorants and is another chemical on this list that is used in water treatment. Many acid attacks are carried out using bleach (although in this case, ‘alkali attacks’ might be a more appropriate term). In contact with skin, bleach can remove melanin (pigment), cause dangerous burns, blistering and sometimes numbness. In some cases, the skin around the burn site may blacken and die.

Sodium hydroxide – Also known as lye (film fans will no doubt recall the scene in the movie ‘Fight Club’ in which the substance was used to create a painful chemical burn), sodium hydroxide is used in the creation of paper, aluminium and soap, as well as various detergents and cleaning products. It is also used to prepare foods such as olives, noodles and pretzels. Fashioned from sodium cations and hydroxide anions, sodium hydroxide is so corrosive that it was once used for the disposal of animal carcasses, swiftly reducing the bodies to little more than a brown, coffee-like substance, with only a few easily crushed bone hulls remaining.

In the home, this chemical is found in drain cleaner and some hair straightening products, as well as paint strippers. Sodium hydroxide dissolves protein in the skin and emulsifies all oil and fat, its PH is very different to that of the body – and the chemical reaction caused by this difference can be both agonizing and extremely damaging.

Nitric acid – Also commonly used in acid attacks, nitric acid can be detected by the fact that it reacts strongly with keratin in the skin, turning it yellow. When the ratio of nitric acid to water reaches 86% or above, it gives off fumes. Made from nitrogen and hydrogen, nitric acid is a powerful oxidising agent. It is used in inks, dyes, explosives and rocket fuel. Nitric acid, which can cause blood toxicity, is an active ingredient in dishwasher detergent. It also gives off toxic fumes when added to ammonia.

What to do in an

How to Treat an

If you witness an acid attack, or find yourself present shortly after one has occurred, it is of paramount importance that you respond quickly and efficiently.

The first few minutes are vital and can be the deciding factor regarding the severity of the victim’s burns. The NHS has released number of public campaigns detailing what to do in case of an acid attack and medical professionals have regularly spoken about the issue in the media.

Here, then, is a short list to consult in case you ever find yourself in this type of situation:

  • Remain calm. It sounds obvious, but the more panicked you allow yourself to become, the greater the build-up of stress and anxiety will be for the victim. Try to speak clearly, take charge of the situation and keep a cool head.
  • Dial 999 and ask for an ambulance. Begin the search for water as you are on the phone. If possible, enlist passers-by to obtain as much water as they can.
  • Remove any item of clothing contaminated in the attack. Acid on a person’s clothes can still burn the skin and the affected areas must now be washed thoroughly.
  • Covering your own hands, try to remove the chemical using an appropriate object such as a clean shirt or a towel.
  • Rinse the burned areas with as much running water as possible. A shower is good, as is bottled water if running water is unavailable. This is by far the most important step.
  • Be vigilant against the victim going into shock. Signs to watch out for include fainting, pale complexion and very shallow breathing.
  • Dry gauze can be added to the skin, which can eventually be washed with gentle soap if it helps the victim. Creams, balms and ointments are best avoided.

Some victims may try strenuously to avoid emergency care. However, such care is essential if the victim has lost the first layer of skin, a blister has formed or if the burn covers an area greater than about seven centimetres (three inches). In general, it is always best to seek expert advice.

In the panic that follows such a horrific ordeal, it is often impossible to know straight away what type of acid was used. In many instances, the attackers probably don’t know (or care) either. Drain cleaners, bleach and disinfectants are all commonly used in acid attacks. The best advice if you witness such an assault, or are unfortunate enough to be the target of one, is to wash the affected area thoroughly with as much running water as you can and then call for an ambulance.

However, it should be noted that some acids can react badly to water, this is just one more thing that makes acid violence such a disgusting crime.

Chemical burns best not treated with water include:

  • Carbolic acid or phenol. Used as a base for aspirin and present in chloroform, this acid does not dissolve in water. Wounded areas must be treated first with alcohol (although not in the case of eyes, obviously). The good news is that unless it was stolen from a hospital or science lab, this chemical is unlikely to be used in an acid attack.
  • Hydrofluoric acid is best treated with a bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) solution. Mix the baking soda with water and add to the affected area, then heavily douse with water as suggested earlier.
  • Carbolic acid or phenol. Used as a base for aspirin and present in chloroform, this acid does not dissolve in water. Wounded areas must be treated first with alcohol (although not in the case of eyes, obviously). The good news is that unless it was stolen from a hospital or science lab, this chemical is unlikely to be used in an acid attack.
  • Hydrofluoric acid is best treated with a bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) solution. Mix the baking soda with water and add to the affected area, then heavily douse with water as suggested earlier.

The high likelihood is that the attacker has used a product intended for cleaning toilets or drains, such as bleach, drain cleaner or floor cleaner. In all cases, ensuring that lots of water is applied for an extended period (at least ten minutes) can help to minimize the damage inflicted and even save lives.

If the victim is not experiencing pain, then there is a possibility that hydrofluoric acid has been used. This is an insidious substance that, as noted above, eats into the skin and kills the tissue. In some cases, the results of the burn will not be visible for hours. This type of burn should be treated first with bicarbonate of soda and then in the manner suggested above.

What to do if Goes into Shock

Shock is a life-threatening condition that occurs when a person’s blood flow is restricted. Not to be confused with an emotional shock (a different thing entirely), the symptoms of this potentially fatal state can include low blood pressure, rapid heart rate, a weak pulse, confusion and loss of consciousness.

Low blood perfusion means that the cells can’t get enough oxygen for them to function properly. This, in turn, can lead to the damage of vital organs such as the brain or heart.

Shock can be caused by many things, including cardiac arrest, severe internal or external bleeding, dehydration, severe allergic reactions, infections and, of course, burns.

According to St. John’s Ambulance the key signs that a person is going into shock are:

  • Paleness in the face.
  • Cold, clammy skin.
  • Fast, shallow breathing.
  • Fast, weak pulse.
  • Yawning or sighing.
  • Confusion
  • Unconsciousness or lack of response.

The best ways to respond to this condition are:

  • Lay the person down with their head low and their legs slightly raised and supported. This will increase blood flow.
  • Dial 999 and explain that you think the victim has gone into shock. Explain also what you think may have caused it.
  • Loosen any tight clothing around the victim’s neck, chest or waist, as this may increase blood flow.
  • Keep the suffering person warm, safe and calm. Try to maintain a comforting and soothing presence. Cover them in a blanket or coat and reassure them until help arrives.
  • Regularly check the person’s breathing, pulse and level of response.
  • If they become unresponsive at any time, but are still breathing, you are to place one hand on the person’s forehead and gently tilt their head back. After this, their mouth should fall open. Lift their chin slightly with your fingertips and listen for their breathing, check that their chest is rising and falling. Do this for no more than 10 seconds. This will keep the airway open.
  • Next, place the victim in the recovery position (this can be found online) and wait for help. Check the person at regular intervals.
  • If the person is not breathing, then you must begin CPR immediately.

One key thing to remember is the importance of keeping the sufferer calm and of staying calm yourself. Creating an atmosphere of tension only adds to the person’s anxiety and it is of vital importance that the person affected feels as safe, secure, warm and cared for as is possible under the circumstances.

Treating a person with shock requires vigilance, competence and care. The actions you take might just save that person’s life.

How to Prevent an

The terrifying, inescapable truth is that nobody is 100% safe from an acid attack.

Even if you live in a low crime area, have no ties to any gangs and venture outside only by the safe light of day, you could still be attacked in a case of mistaken identity, or worse still, you could become the victim of a random attack.

This is written not to frighten you, but to illustrate the point that the easy accessibility of corrosive materials, relative lack of risk to the assailant and low conviction rates overall make acid attacks an indiscriminate and immediate threat in modern day Britain.

Still, there are a few things you can do in order to lessen the risk of acid attack.

  • Be alert. Take note of your surroundings and try not to be distracted or complacent. Keep an eye out for unusual or suspicious people.
  • Where possible, stay grouped with other people. Try to travel with friends.
  • Stay in the centre of the group if possible.
  • Be aware that many attacks occur from the windows of moving vehicles, so avoid standing near to the road for extended periods of time.
  • Be wary of anybody suspicious who is intentionally covering their face. Acid attackers will usually try to disguise their identities. Of course, hoodies, motorcycle helmets, balaclavas, niqab, hijab, burkas, even Halloween masks, can all be seen on Britain’s streets in 2018. The vast majority are nothing to be suspicious about, but if a person covering their face appears to be approaching you swiftly or in a threatening manner, then endeavour to get out of their way!
  • Check a person’s hands. If you do find yourself suspicious of somebody, check their hands. An acid attacker will need something in which to carry their acid; a previously used plastic bottle or container seems to be the most common receptacle. If the person’s hands are concealed, be wary. Cover your own face immediately.
  • If you feel that somebody has a vendetta against you, be wary of that person. Take any acid-related threats very seriously. Seek legal protection if you have to.
  • Carry a bottle of water with you at all times.

It may calm you somewhat to know that, in accordance with the UK Health and Safety Act 1974 and the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health regulations of 2002, all employers and venue owners are required by law to carry appropriate equipment for immediately treating an acid attack victim.

According to the UK Home Office, this includes extra-strength gloves, water bottles with shower-like nozzles for cleaning wounds, a strong pair of scissors capable of cutting through acid-drenched garments and specialised face shields. Even still, it pays to be safe.

Legislation –

In July of last year, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan called for the government to take a “zero tolerance” approach to acid attacks nationwide. Condemning them as “callous and horrific”, he suggested measures that included tougher sentencing for convicted attackers, as well as a general clampdown on the sale of corrosive substances. He also called for an increase in long-term support for victims of acid attacks.

“The emotional impacts of disfiguring and lifelong scarring are truly devastating for innocent victims” he said.

The Mayor called for these measures after 6 acid attacks were committed in the city in less than 24 hours.

Late last year, MP for West Ham Lyn Brown called for police and other emergency services to carry bottles of specialist rinse in the event of acid attacks. Like Khan, she backed restricting the sales of corrosive substances. East Ham MP Stephen Timms seconded her calls.

At around the same time, it was declared that the UK now has one of the highest numbers of acid attacks per person of any country in the world. Sadly, this number is expected to rise.

Police nationwide, already struggling as a result of government cuts to personnel and funding, have stated that without enforceable laws dedicated specifically to acid attacks; it is difficult for them to respond adequately.

Few of the victims admitted to hospitals are willing to speak to police, which is a huge obstacle in the way of punishing those responsible and preventing future attacks. Nevertheless, police are actively working with youth and community groups in an effort to raise awareness and stem the tide of these attacks.

Some police officers have suggested new legislation that would call for people to justify why they may be carrying a corrosive substance in the street. It certainly makes sense.

However, most commentators concede that banning the sale of such chemicals outright would prove impossible. Of the 15 – 20 substances known to have been used in acid attacks, the vast majority have legitimate household uses, can be purchased cheaply (in most cases, cigarettes are more expensive) and are completely legal. Worse still, almost all of these chemicals are easily found in most people’s homes, indicating that even with some sort of sales restriction policy in place, would-be attackers could still easily obtain them.

UK citizens’ initiatives, in the form of petitions, have been created to voice public outrage at the rise in acid attacks.

This one, created on Change.org by user Sarmad Ismail, calls for a licensing system to be created in an attempt to prevent the sale of corrosive substances to those that may misuse them.

In India, a similar petition started by attack survivor Laxmi Agarwal successfully called upon the Government to regulate the sale of acid.

Another petition, started by UK user Shaheed Rahman, formally asks that acid attackers receive a life sentence for their crimes. Signees include the author of this article.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd has strongly condemned acid attacks. The government is, at present, drafting new legislation to better combat this grim phenomenon.

A Home Office spokesperson said, “We are consulting on banning the sale of the most harmful corrosive substances to under 18s and introducing minimum custodial sentences to those who are repeatedly caught carrying corrosive substances without good reason, which mirrors the laws on carrying knives. This sends the clear message that the cowards who use these as weapons will not escape the full force of the law.”

However, it looks as if the situation is likely to get worse before it gets better and in that time, how many others will suffer?

Acid Attack

An acid attack is a life-changing experience. Victims must overcome deep scars, both physical and psychological and this process can take years. Fortunately, there are organisations willing to help.

Groups such as Acid Survivor’s Trust International (ASTI) and, closer to home, the Katie Piper Foundation are working every day to help people heal their wounds, both inside and out. Other charitable organisations, such as Victim Support are also helping acid attack survivors each and every day.

If you know somebody who has lived through this ordeal, then you can help enormously by simply being a friend and supporting them as much as you can. If they have not already sought help for themselves, you might suggest one of the organisations mentioned above. In addition, you should also research the symptoms of depression and watch out for them.

Finally, in honour of the many people who have survived acid attacks and bravely lived with their far-reaching consequences, it might be appropriate to end on a note of hope.

Last year, a group of 10 acid attack survivors, all of them women, took to the catwalk for a fashion show in New Dehli. Their aim was to raise funds for their fellow survivors and to raise awareness of acid attacks in general.

The event, hosted by acid support charity Make Love, Not Scars, was a resounding success, greatly boosting the confidence of the models, all of whom had suffered severe facial burns and disfigurement at varying points in their lives.

One model, Reshma Bano Qureshi, told reporters that people had called her ugly and told her that no one would marry her, yet she described herself as “proud and confident”

“The face is not what makes you beautiful” she said, “It is your heart”

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