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Report No. 226

Injuries and Physical Consequences:

Acid eats through two layers of the skin, i.e. the fat and muscle underneath, and sometimes not only eats through to the bone but it may even dissolve the bone. The deepness of injury depends on the strength of the acid and the duration of contact with the skin. Burning continues until the acid is thoroughly washed off with water.

Thrown on a person's face, acid rapidly eats into eyes, ears, nose and mouth. Eyelids and lips may burn off completely. The nose may melt, closing the nostrils, and ears shrivel up.

Acid can quickly destroy the eyes, blinding the victim. Skin and bone on the skull, forehead, cheeks and chin may dissolve. When the acid splashes or drips over the neck, chest, back, arms or legs, it burns everywhere it touches.

The biggest immediate danger for victims is breathing failure. Inhalation of acid vapors can create breathing problems in two ways: i.e. by causing a poisonous reaction in the lungs or by swelling the neck, which constricts the airway and strangles the victim.

When the burns from an acid attack heal, they form thick scars which pull the skin very tight and can cause disfigurements. For instance, eyelids may no longer close, the mouth may no longer open; and the chin becomes welded to the chest.

The following information on physical consequences has been described by an NGO2.

2. Medecins Du Monde and doctors at Calmette hospital in Phnom Penh.

Skull: May be partly destroyed or deformed. Hair is often lost.

Forehead: Skin may shrink, as though stretched tightly, and be scarred.

Ears: Shriveled up and deformed. Deafness may occur immediately or later.

Cartilage in the ear is usually partly or totally destroyed, exposing the victim to future infection and hearing loss.

Eyes: Direct acid contact or acid vapors can damage eyes, causing blindness. Even if the eyes survive the acid attack, they remain vulnerable to other threats which can cause blindness during the victim's recovery. Eyelids may have been burned off, or may be deformed by scarring, leaving the eyes to dry up and go blind. This is very difficult to prevent.

Nose: Shrunken and deformed. Nostrils may close completely because the cartilage is destroyed.

Cheeks: Scarred and deformed.

Mouth: Shrunken and narrowed, and may lose its shape. Lips may be partly or totally destroyed. Lips may be permanently flared, exposing the teeth. Movement of the lips, mouth and face may be impaired. Eating can be difficult.

Chin: Scarred and deformed. The scars may run downward, welding the chin to the neck or chest.

Neck: Often badly damaged. It may have a thick cord of scarred flesh running down from the chin to the upper chest, or a wide, heavily-scarred area on one side of the neck. Victim may be unable to extend the neck, or the head may constantly lean to one side.

Chest: Often badly scarred. The chest may have narrow lines of scars or wide patches of scars from acid splashes or drips. In girls and young women, the development of their breasts may be stopped, or their breasts may be destroyed completely.

Shoulder: May be badly scarred, especially around the underarm, which may limit the victim's arm movement. In some cases, one or both of the victim's upper arms may be stuck like glue to the sides of their body.

The Inclusion of Acid Attacks as Specific Offences in the Indian Penal Code and a law for Compensation for Victims of Crime Back

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