‘Uganda’s vendetta weapon - acid’

A version of this article has appeared on the Google news website and was written by by Max Delaney (AFP) on 2nd February 2012

She’s one of the latest victims acid attacks in Uganda, where criminals have turned to the cheap liquid as a cruel means of attack for punishment or for revenge. Her husband Joseph, a local councillor, barely able to move from the pain as he struggles to recover after being attacked along with his wife last month. “We were sitting outside our small shop when an attacker threw acid over us and then disappeared,” says Kobusingye, 24.

Used in personal vendettas or business disputes acid attacks have become an increasingly common way over the past decade of settling scores in Uganda. Doctors at Mulago said the number of cases more than doubled in the December holiday period and local media reported over 40 attack victims had been admitted to hospitals in Kampala. “Every festive season we see an increase in the number of victims we receive,” says Robert Ssentongo a senior plastic surgeon at Mulago hospital. Some victims require extensive surgery placing additional burdens on already-stretched medical resources.

Although police are yet to arrest anyone, Kobusingye said she suspects her husband’s ex-wife was behind the attack. “We had read about these sorts of attacks before in the newspapers but we had never experienced anything like it in our village,” said Kobusingye, a mother of one. Sociologists suggest the growth in such attacks could be due to a collapse of trust in the police or legal system to handle disputes, along with a wider breakdown of traditional family structures as people flock to the cities. “The shift away from traditional values and the inadequacies in the country’s institutions is affecting the way people respond to the problems and disputes,” said Peter Atekyezera a sociology professor at Kampala’s Makerere University.

The acid used in attacks is often readily available at places like petrol stations, including acid used in car batteries. The impact of an attack on the victims’ lives is immense, said Prudence Komujinya a co-founder of the Acid Survivors Foundation Uganda. “It is really, really challenging physically, socially, economically and psychologically, as survivors with disfigurements are often stigmatised by society,” said Komujinya herself a survivor of an acid attack. While police and the judiciary have become better at dealing with acid attack cases, calls for new laws to restrict access to potentially harmful chemicals have not produced results. As for the victims now battling for survival in the burns ward of Mulago hospital, Komujinya said that even with the support of families and friends they will face a long struggle to rebuild their lives. “It is a long journey to try and recover,” she said. “A lifetime journey.”

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Posted on February 03rd 2012 by Office in ASTI news

Comments (6 so far)

  • Crime has really gotten more and more advanced. To think that these criminals will use this acid to do crime. I think it is advisable that this acid liquid must be banned in the market or strictly given provided that it will be used for medical purposes. If this can triggered life then it should be banned that is the most effective way to end up this crime.

    Added by criminal records on 21st February at 7:46 AM

  • Agreed with other commentator “Criminal record”!! I wanna say just like every store there will be no medicine delivered without prescription, acid selling needs to sale like this way. Without proper need acid selling should need to ban. I think that’s the only way to stop acid related crime. Thanks

    Added by Daniel Adamsons on 1st March at 9:41 AM

  • What can I say…..this is a crime which can damage a life totally. We the leaders of this world need to apply mostly hard punishment processing as like capital punishment for prevent acid crime and also need to stop sell acid without doctor prescription. Thanks mate.

    Added by houston orthopaedic on 2nd March at 5:52 AM

  • From now we all need to create unity against acid crime for our future generation. I hope everyone will give their more and more time to find out a solution. Thanks mate.

    Added by Emmeline on 6th March at 5:09 PM

  • I almost appreciate ASTI works against acid violence. It’s curse for us. All of the conscious people should care in this issue. By the way I’m curious when I read something about acid violence. 24 hr emergency Thanks for important report!

    Added by Sillar Mim on 8th March at 8:06 AM

  • Acid violence is a curse for us. I think people should come forward against this crime. It’s very dangerous for the victim who acid attacks. Thanks for an important issue input here!  @ flight cases

    Added by Shelly Wilkinson on 28th May at 1:19 PM

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