In India, acid is cheap and available freely. It’s been the tool for revenge over decades, leaving (especially) women with disfigured faces, ostracism and shattered lives. Now there seems to be a ray of hope on the horizon. Acid attack victims in India will soon be treated as disabled and granted disability benefits including reservation in government jobs and education institutions, reported The Economic Times.
The Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities has recommended the inclusion of two new categories – acid attack victims and persons suffering from schizophrenia – in the list of differently abled under the draft Right of Persons with Disabilities Bill.
The inclusion of acid attack victims in the list will pave the way for employment opportunities for such individuals, some of whom have taken state governments to court to press for enhanced compensation. The government has justified the inclusion saying acid attack victims face social stigma, which hinders them from full and effective participation in society. The move is in line with a December 2015 Supreme Court verdict which directed state governments to include acid attack victims.
According to The Huffington Post, in December 2015, the Supreme Court had ordered stricter measures to stop the sale of acid and had urged governments to consider including acid attack victims in the disability list to help them receive state benefits. Women severely burned and maimed in acid attacks are often still treated as outcaste in Indian societies, the court had observed. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had recently used the word ‘divyang’, a person with extraordinary power, to address the differently abled. The bill is due to be tabled in the second half of the Budget session of Parliament.
The new draft, pending for the last two years will replace the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995. In its current form, it covers 19 conditions instead of seven in the 1995 Act.