Little justice for Colombia’s acid victims
The following article was written by Anastasia Moloney http://www.trust.org, 9 May 2012
‘“This is a product of a macho culture. It’s the most visible example of aggression against women,” Guerrero told TrustLaw.
She co-founded the Burns Foundation, a clinic in Bogota, where she has reconstructed the disfigured faces, backs and necks of dozens of acid victims since the first acid attack case came to light in Colombia in 1997.
“When a woman has little schooling and no job, she’s financially dependent on a man. That creates a situation where women are inferior, where men can say, ‘I’m the owner of that woman and therefore I have a right to do what I want with her’,” she explained.
Guerrero is scathing about the lack of adequate state health care for acid victims and the country’s ineffective justice system.
“There’s a chain of incompetence and failures by the police and investigators that leads to few convictions and the aggressor getting away. It’s near total impunity,” she said.
Under Colombian law, acid attacks are defined as personal injury, a crime that carries a maximum six-year prison sentence, with criminals sometimes allowed to serve their jail sentences under house arrest.
“You cannot justify giving a person who has attacked with chemicals no jail time. This should be seen as attempted murder,” Guerrero said.
The recent spate of attacks has prompted a group of lawmakers to introduce a bill that would result in tougher punishments of up to 20 years in prison for those convicted of carrying out acid attacks. It would also introduce stricter controls on the sale of acid and better medical care for acid victims.
The bill is expected to be debated in Colombia’s congress (lower house of parliament) later this year.
Bogota’s mayor recently said he was considering plans to open a special centre for acid victims where they can receive medical and psychological care.’
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Posted on May 21st 2012 by Office in ASTI news