|This is me earlier putting on the mask - the campaign symbol of the victims of Acid Violence|
Today is the 100th anniversary of International Women's day. The Parliament has fallen over themselves to make all the women MEP´s feel special by giving us red roses and small pot plants. But for 30 minutes this afternoon I attended and gave my support to a growing and troubling issue - Acid violence against women.
This atrocious act, is a new phenomenon and is prevalent in
Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uganda and India but can alo be found in Europe too. At a conservative estimate at least 5000 cases a year with 70% of the women being under the age of 25. These attacks are `honour` reprisals for when a young woman has ´dishonoured´ her family even in the most minor way.
In more than 40% of cases acid scaring is carried out by the Women´s partner or former partner. Even parents and siblings are perpetrators. The damage caused by acid is irreversible. Each patient has to undergo between 6 and 30 operations. The injuries are devastating and leave an indelible psychological mark on the victim.
I spoke today with Jacqueline Thibault, President of the foundation ´SURGIR´ today about this. She is calling for, and I support greater understanding of the problem, support for programs such as in Switzerland that pick up the aftermath but most of all acid throwing is a crime and a form of torture and should be considered and punished as such by tne international community.
I was interested to discover from Ms. Thibault that the
authorities are very progressive in dealing with these matters with police forces retrospectively going through their records to reinvestigate such crimes. She told me there were 12 instances a year in the UK - 12 too many! UK