Enriched with Acid: Humiliating, Face-Deforming Acid Attacks on the Rise in Britain

November 11, 2013

Police e-fit of one of the teenagers suspected of carrying out an acid attack in Oldham
Police e-fit of one of the teenagers suspected of carrying out an acid attack in Oldham
Nearly twice as many men as women are being injured in acid attacks in England, hospital figures suggest.

Surgeons treating acid burn victims say male injuries are often related to gang violence or criminal activity.

Eighty-one male patients were treated in hospital due to corrosive substance assaults in 2012-13. The figure for women was 49.

One former gang member told the BBC acid attacks were intended to humiliate a victim, rather than kill them.

Statistics from the Health and Social Care Information Centre show that last year 62% of patients treated in England following acid attacks were male.

However, globally it is estimated that 80% of victims are female.

“Acid violence in the UK is very different from the numbers and the types of people that are affected in other countries,” said Baljit Dheansa, a burns surgeon at Queen Victoria Hospital, West Sussex.

“In the UK it seems to be primarily men that are the victims of acid violence.
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“They can be young men or older men, and it tends to be related to gang violence or to situations where there is some criminal activity going on,” he added.

Jermaine Joseph Lawlor, a former gang member who now works for a charity, said he was aware of gangs using acid in attacks on their rivals.

“If someone sees a knife wound or a scar on your face there’s a chance a stereotype is going to be created that [you] don’t mess with me, I’m negative, I’m a bad boy – but with an acid attack it’s so degrading,” he said.

“It’s not a knife attack, it’s not a gun attack, it’s an acid attack – we don’t want to kill you but we want to humiliate you.”

He added that people with these types of injuries are regarded with pity, rather than being “scary or intimidating”.

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