03 Agosto 2017 13:06
A horrible wave of acid attacks is sweeping the countryIn the last three years, the number of acid attacks being seen in the UK, in particular London, has more than doubled. This year alone acid was poured over a crowd at a busy nightclub in Dalston, London, five people were squirted with acid in popular hotspots Shoreditch and Hackney, and a gang of youths sprayed teenagers before punching them in east London’s Wanstead area. And today, even more news about an increase in acid attacks has been reported. A woman was reportedly doused in acid after walking down an alleyway to help a crying baby, and footage captured the moment thieves riding mopeds in affluent Knightsbridge threw liquid over passersby. Although the liquid turned out to be water, it shows Londoners are on high alert in light of recent attacks. On June 21, the country was shocked by an apparently random attack on two young people, Jameel Muhktar and his cousin Resham Khan, who were out in the capital celebrating a 21st birthday. Her alleged attacker, John Tomlin, remained free for weeks, before turning himself in. Diane Abbott, MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, called the crime an act of ‘terrorism’ on non-white citizens.
Acid attacks were the scourge of Victorian-era Britain, so why are they back now with a vengeance? On an international scale, acid attacks are usually gendered, with far more women being subjected to horrific assaults than men. The highest number of recorded attacks are seen in Colombia, Uganda, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal, with the south Asian countries in particular. Harrowing images of disfigured women who have been assaulted with acid because they have rejected sexual advances or marriage proposals, and aroused jealousy, are commonplace in these countries. But, when it comes to the UK, it appears that acid crimes are more racialised than gendered. Until now, investigations into acid crime in Britain suggested that white men under 40 were the most targeted group, and a Freedom of Information request from January to July 2016 showed there was a far higher number of black and minority ethnic (BME) attackers than white. However, taking in the overall population of white communities in comparison to non-white into account, regardless of the perpetrator, overall victims are far more likely to be of BME heritage. One argument that has been bandied about is that immigration from countries where acid attacks are more prevalent has contributed to the growing figures. Experts have also argued that a crackdown on the use of guns and knives on Britain’s streets has led gang members to frequently use corrosive substances, because they are more readily available. The latter has prompted wider disapproval from communities and MPs in the country to question why there aren’t more restrictions on buying corrosive substances. It’s possible to buy potent sulphuric acid online for under £10, and shops will sell it to customers who don’t have a license to use acid for other purposes. A petition to prohibit the purchase of acid without a licence has nearly reached 500,000 signatures. Curtailing the use of acid for crime is a complicated issue though. A mixture of gang crime, immigration, poverty, racism, and sexism all feed into the vicious cycle, and it’s going to take a lot more than a petition to stop it.
Surely these terrible acid attacks are a form of terrorism? https://t.co/j51wwwcgq4
— Diane Abbott (@HackneyAbbott) July 11, 2017