According to the World Health Organization (2018), burns result in 180,000 deaths annually majorly in low and middle-income countries. Two-thirds of it occurs in the WHO African and Southeast Asia regions. In regard to Nepal, WHO also estimates that burns are the second common injury in rural Nepal accounting for 5 percent of disabilities. WHO (2018) also highlights that females have higher rates of deaths from burns in comparison to males.
Burn and acid violence are some of the severe forms of gender-based violence prevalent in our society. Burn violence often occurs in domestic spaces while acid attacks largely occur in public spheres or around domestic spaces. Numerous studies suggest that the burn and acid violence are significantly triggered by the dowry system and preference of the male child. Burn/Acid violence is also a severe consequence of a long period of abuse and violence against women within households. Burn violence often goes unreported as the victims hesitate to report the violence in fear of the culprit who is majorly husband/partners/relatives/neighbors/friend.
In regard to legal provision, the Constitution of Nepal 2015’s Article 38(3) prohibits the women to be subjected to physical, mental, sexual, psychological or other forms of violence or exploitation on grounds of religion, social, cultural tradition, practice or on any other grounds. The subsection stipulates that if such an act is done, it shall be punishable by law.
There are no specific policies/act to burn violence. The burn violence is punishable by the Domestic Violence Act 2009. Section 2(a) of the Act defines as “any form of physical, mental, sexual and economic harm perpetrated by person to a person with whom he/she has a family relationship and this word also includes any acts of reprimand or emotional harm.” Furthermore, the act has defined “Physical harm” as “an act of committing or causing bodily harm or injury holding as a captive, inflicting physical pain or any other act connected therewith and incidental thereto except the act of breaking the limbs of the body”. The victims have the choice of reporting under the act to three different bodies: The National Women’s Commission, local bodies, or the police. The act has stipulated up to six months’ imprisonment and/or up-to NRs 25,000 fine for perpetrators of domestic violence, and half the punishment for accomplices.
In regard to the legal provision related to acid attack, the Criminal Code 2017 ‘s Section 193 prohibits acid attack and use of acid/chemical substance that results in disfigurements. In case of disfigurement of the face due to acid attack, the act has stipulated up to 8 years’ imprisonment and/or up-to 1 to 8 lakhs fine for perpetrators. In the case of the disfigurement of the body, the culprit can be sentenced to 3-5 years’ imprisonment and fine up to 50 thousand to 3 lakhs.