Love and acid attacks: they are shockingly two opposite extremes. How does this flipping take place? Why a godly act turns devilish? I will try to go into these aspects as far as I can. For this here, I am taking reference from a number of published articles amalgamating with my own experience of love and hatred.
Dear reader, you can agree/disagree with the contents. With this, we can begin a discussion. Please, give your opinion.
We all at some point fall in love and savour the sacred feeling of love. Some of us make it to the end while many of us can not make it. Some relationships end with betrayal and some with misunderstanding; some go haywire simply because of immaturity and shallow perspective. Rarely, we make it alright in first attempt. Some are denied downright. But what shocks me personally is a lover turning into savage criminal. We start liking someone. With this, we have all the good feelings for her. We feel warmth and elated. A very secret life happens in our psyche. It all begins with this. Then, with some of us, there goes something wrong. Does that wrong happen to be that big, that it turns a lover into an acid attacker?
According to Wikipedia, acid attack is a form of violent assault defined as the act of throwing acid or a similarly corrosive substance onto the body of another with the intention to disfigure, maim, torture, or kill. I wonder if an acid thrower actually does know what harm can it do!
Lets see what the Wikipedia says about love: Romantic love usually implies an expression of one's strong romantic love or one's deep and strong emotional desires to connect with another person intimately or romantically. Amazing! More I wonder here if an acid thrower has really loved!
Withe these two definitions, we can clearly see the gap between these two sentiments. So, the question is what actually creates this gap?
Acid attacks have been used as a form of revenge for refusal of sexual advances, proposals of marriage and demands for dowry. The problem we see is in schooling of how we see and perceive love and women. Naturally, we fall for someone. We are sexually attracted. First few days of feelings are pure and natural just an urge out of instincts. Then we start we pulling off all the differences and superiority that we have been brought up through. All the calculation begins with the perspective what women mean to us, our strength, our position and all that. There remains nothing natural. Afterwards, the love becomes more of a cultural act. If it is natural throughout, we will look for someone else after denial. But it does not happen so. It becomes a thing of our superiority and and ego. Just to satiate the ego, we want to destroy the very person. It is an extreme way to avenge. This comes not simply because someone denies our proposal or cheats on us but because we see the person as a goal to be achieved, and object to be possessed. When we can not accomplish, we feel low and inferior. And just to feel better, we do this horrendous act of acid throwing. Why don't we choose a milder way to avenge?
Just a couple of weeks ago, a 27-yr-old girl was killed in an acid attack in Butwal for spurning the marriage proposal. The attacker was her alleged boyfriend.
Such grisly incident should not be simply seen as linear cause and effect act as, the boy attacked her because she turned down his proposal. This indicates his upbringing. It says something about his environment he has been brought up in. It clearly depicts his mindset regarding women. It is extremely gruesome selfish act. Assume that he was madly in love with her and so was she with him; they had pledged to get married but after a course of time, she felt she should not marry him and so she turned down. Now what? Is she to be killed? Yes, she is to be killed if she is a tool to finish a work, for in the middle of the work she refused to function properly which infuriated him. A person in LOVE does not get angry enough to commit a felony over a refusal or betrayal, instead feels badly hurt and disappointed, becomes depressed and obsessed. But anger is quite a different thing. It is not synonymous to disappointment or feelings of hurt. Anger only surfaces when we are committed to achieve something but in the process, our means falls short or goes defunct. It is because we have no attachment with the means. All we know is we want to use them to achieve the specific goal. Now, if we compare it with the so called love and acid attack, we vividly find that she was never treated as a living soul similar to himself. She was means and not the end. Where does this mentality come from? It depends on how you see other people in your family or locality or group of friends treat the females, what is their views about women and so forth. This shapes your mind. Here, the perpetrator looks down upon females and sees them weaker. He does not consider them on the same footing with himself, instead poor creatures. So, it can be categorized as a gender violence.
But why acid and not something else?
Acid attack is one of the most effective ways to execute one's cruel intentions as acid is pretty easily available which can do one of the most grievous harms the perpetrator can imagine. The wounds acid can give is beyond our imagination. If the perpetrator wants to give one of the horrible tortures, brutal as he can imagine, acid bears that potential. If a girl rejects proposal or a woman is doubted to have extra-marital affair, the man may not simply want to kill her; he falsely pins down its cause to be her beauty and the arrogance out of it which he cruelly intends to obliterate for which nothing works better than the acid. With other weapons, there is great possibility of target escaping the attack as she can see the weapon right before it is executed, but with the acid in a bottle, it is not the case as the acid needs not necessarily have to be in the original acid container. Next reason is its easy and cheap availability.
The acid attack is performed not with the intention of killing basically, instead with the intention of disfiguring and turning her the ugliest. It can be seen also as a negative spillover from India with which we share open border, Pakistan ans Bangladesh. In these countries, the acid attack is rampant. Back in 2007, Akriti Rai, 22 was attacked by her husband, a Nepali soldier. It was a love marriage and just after six months of it, her husband, Santosh Rai, Sntosh's first wife and his sister poured acid on her. She was just 22 then. She survived it. This incidence was published in the NEPALI TIMES, issue 349, 7-24 May 2007. http://nepalitimes.com/news.php?id=13549
Why would someone marry a second wife without legally divorcing the first one? Not bad, forget all the legality and just see the beauty of love out of which they got hitched. Then what went wrong so wrong between them that she had to be acid-attacked? By just seeing the circumstance and the attackers involved, we can guess pretty correctly the conspiracy and the misunderstanding created against her. Personally, more than the crime itself, a soldier comitting a crime shocks me horrendously as it demeans the very essence and soul of soldier fraternity. Did he not have to go through the psychological cleansing during the training process? Or, all he knew was killing and defending? But it is a different topic to discussed some time later. A soldier already with a wife falling for a different girl, marrying and pouring acid over her only indicates his attitude towards women.
Such attacks also indicate that the women are transitioning from a social order where they used to be downright subservient to men, to a new social order where they seek more freedom and independency which is a big threat to the egoistic and male-chauvinistic mentality that some men can not tolerate. Men want to subjugate this. So it is a collision of confused transitioning mindsets. Women want to speak up against anything that they find not quite right to their individuality but men are not showing flexibility to this attitude. The core problem is that the men don't consider women equal to themselves. Ours is the society right now where our one leg is fixed to a very orthodox world and the next landing onto a very liberal and modern world which is creating all the chaos that some are not able to process efficiently, thus behaving like mad dogs. In one hand, we are very much fascinated by the idea of love, on the other, neither we know its mechanism nor its essence. It is the reason why such barbaric attacks are very rampant in south Asian countries.
The acid attack is never an unintended result of violence. It is not like there erupts a dispute and with a mere surge of anger our of control, one reaches a local weapon and attacks; it is well premeditated. It needs a planning of a number days. I think the acid attackers can categorically be called psychopaths. It is rather a deliberate act which is the result of emotional ripeness that creates mental readiness for committing the crime as an act of profound despair that is ready to destroy the other.
But where does this desire to disfigure come from? Does it have to do something with the psyche under romantic love? According to fusion model of romantic ideology, two lovers form a profound union as if they were a unique single attitude. The notion of fusion may be associated with the fact that in sexual intercourse, corporal penetration literally fuse the two bodies. According to an article published in THE PSYCHOLOGY TODAY: Zygmunt Bauman (2003) nicely puts it, "Wherever I go, you go; whatever I do, you do… If you are not and cannot be my Siamese twin, be my clone!" David Schnarch (1997) also argues that we have embraced a Siamese-twin model of intimacy, where every single movement of one of them would require consensus. If you didn't have your twin's validation and acceptance, you are in trouble. In this model, the more your spouse becomes his/her own person, the more you would feel controlled and torn apart.
It may be that the attackers are guided by the fusion model. In pursuing love, women are passive and receptive which renders them more stable and stronger emotionally. Men are much more invested which actually is their weakness and so when their partners betray or don't accept their marriage proposals, they feel torn apart and want to destroy them in return. This explanation can not be used to justify such heinous crimes. It does not have any strong base but needless to say, men act out of their sexual jealousy and masculine possessiveness. Jealousy is a powerful emotion which hijacks the memory system and rational processing of brain. Again the question is: why are men more jealous?
No such vague explanation should be used to justify the crime. Such a crime is also called a crime of passion but I don't want to put acid attack especially in this category. I would call it a crime of passion if the attackers after throwing acid at their partners douse himself too with the acid. As it happens, due to social circumstances, some are not allowed to be together and they commit suicide together, which too is stupidity that I decry, or kills another and then kills oneself which makes some sense regarding the passion and the desire to be together but disfiguring and burning the person one loves shows no love at all. Such are psychopaths.
It seems that the acid attack is on the rise in our country too. Though it is not as frequent as in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, the recent acid attacks are no good sign for the safety of innocent girls and women in our country. Of course, there have to strict rules but together we need to instill our society and family with better and practical approach to love rather than Romantic Ideology, every child must be made known that gender is the only difference between men and women for which each of us has to act that way to create examples which display that men and women are equal.