Acid Survivors Trust International
|Focus||To put an end to acid violence and create a world where survivors can live in dignity and without fear.|
|Jaf Shah (Executive Director), The Princess Royal, (Patron)|
Acid Survivors Trust International (ASTI) is a UK-based international non-profit organisation aiming to end acid and burns violence at a global level. In addition to public education and awareness campaigns, ASTI supports organisations in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Uganda that they have helped to form. The organisation was founded in 2002 and is a registered charity under English law.
Acid Survivors Trust International's work has produced significant change in challenging acid violence. The organisation has been involved in many campaigns, such as those to introduce acid laws in Cambodia, Pakistan and Bangladesh. In the case of the latter, the incidence of recorded acid violence fell from 500 cases in 2002 to less than 100 in 2012, over a 70% reduction. ASTI are also actively involved in administering medical support for survivors: former ASTI trustee Dr Ron Hiles OBE, has performed over one thousand reconstructive surgery operations and trained hundreds of surgeons who in turn have treated thousands of patients. In 2016, The Trust Law/Thomson Reuters Foundation shortlisted ASTI for a Solicitors Journal Award for Working in Partnership with J Sagar Associate, Baker & McKenzie and P&G Asia for the comparative law study that looked at acid laws in the UK, India, Cambodia and Colombia (see research).
Supporting survivors and changing attitudes
ASTI's impact abroad has been primarily centred on providing aid and support to attack survivors whilst challenging common misconceptions around victim-hood. An example of how these have been achieved can be found in a two year programme launched by ASTI in collaboration with local partners Burns Violence Survivors Nepal and Acid Survivors Foundation Pakistan in the delivery of a British Government Department for International Development funded project. The project led to:
- 152 survivors benefiting from medical and psycho-social support services
- Awareness and sensitization on the causes and consequences of acid violence, acid crime legislation, police procedures and immediate response to acid attack to 513 community leaders
- 151 survivors benefit from legal support
- 54 survivors access professional skills training and financial support
- 6,360 community members reached through campaign materials or street theatre
- In Pakistan two successful radio campaigns reaching 4,400,000 people across the target regions spreading awareness on acid violence and on how to respond to an acid attack.
- An acid law and sub-decree being passed in Cambodia.
- The Uganda National Bureau of Standards producing guidelines to regulate use of acid.
- In Cambodia health and legal notification and referral systems strengthened in 18 provinces and increasing number of lawyers and legal aid professionals willing to support survivors in taking cases forward.
- In Cambodia 300 women in 2 provinces receive information on legal and medical support.
Alongside the aforementioned local partners, ASTI has played a central role in holding governments to account in the fight to tackle the root causes of acid violence and ultimately prevent more cases from occurring as well as ensuring proper justice is served for survivors. The following are examples of ASTI's work in changing laws:
- Acid Survivors Foundation Bangladesh, which played a key role in policy change in Bangladesh. Bangladesh was the first country to pass a law banning acid violence, in 2002.
- The organisation's local partner Acid Survivors Foundation Pakistan campaigned hard and played a critical part in helping to bring about The Acid Control and Acid Crime Prevention Bill in 2011 which has contributed to the decline in attacks. Once known to be the country with the highest number of such attacks (496 recorded attacks in 2002) and the highest incident rates for women, it has since experienced a drastic drop (approx. 70 attacks recorded in 2012) in the frequency of acid assaults.
- ASTI supported the work of Cambodian Acid Survivors Charity in bringing about legal reform. Cambodia has also adopted a law against acid violence to criminalize and penalize perpetrators. A year after it was passed in 2012, the country also passed regulations governing the sale and use of concentrated acid. The number of recorded acid attacks has been significantly.
- With over 100 victims of attack annually, Colombia has strengthened its legislative framework and enacted a law in January 2016 to impose sentences of 12 to 50 years in jail to perpetrators of acid attacks. The law was named after acid attack survivor Natalia Ponce de Leon who was attacked in 2014 and has since campaigned for stricter laws on acid violence.
- The Colombian government also sought information from ASTI on tackling acid violence. At the invitation of the Colombian government ASTI executive director visited Colombia on two occasions (2014 and 2015) to provide expert advice.
- Following the sharp increase in acid violence in the UK, the organisation was approached British Home Office officials, the Shadow Home Secretary and cross-party MPs seeking advice on tackling the surge in acid attacks. Consequently, they provided policy briefings as well as a detailed legal memorandum on loopholes in current laws. Consequently, Amber Rudd announced that the Home Office is to ban the sale of most corrosive substances to under-18s as well as establish a six-month minimum sentence for anyone caught for the second time carrying acid without good reason.
The organisation is often called on for expert comment whenever an acid attack is reported in the media. ASTI has featured in and provided material for coverage of acid violence in media outlets including the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, CNN, The Independent, The Guardian and The New York Times.
- Anne, Princess Royal of Britain
- Fiona Horlick
- Ajay Gulati
- Shampa Nath
- Adam Atashzai
- "ASTI - About Us". www.ASTI.org.uk. Retrieved 10 December 2017.
- Charity Commission. ACID SURVIVORS TRUST INTERNATIONAL (ASTI), registered charity no. 1079290.
- Acid Survivors Foundation
- "As Acid Attacks Rise Against Women, Laws Help to Deter Such Assaults - PassBlue". www.PassBlue.com. Retrieved 10 December 2017.
- Cosoy, Natalio (6 February 2016). "Recovering from an acid attack". Retrieved 10 December 2017 – via www.BBC.co.uk.
- "Amber Rudd Is Planning To Ban Acid Sales To Under-18s, But People Think She Could Do More". Buzzfeed.com. Retrieved 10 December 2017.
- Rawlinson, Kevin (13 October 2017). "Six-month minimum sentence proposed for repeat acid offences". TheGuardian.com. Retrieved 10 December 2017.
- Salter, Jessica (5 June 2009). "The lives and faces rebuilt after acid attacks". Retrieved 10 December 2017 – via www.Telegraph.co.uk.
- "The Saviour: The British plastic surgeon helping acid victims". Independent.co.uk. 17 May 2009. Retrieved 10 December 2017.
- "Video News - CNN". CNN. Retrieved 10 December 2017.
- Castella, Tom de (9 August 2013). "How many acid attacks are there?". Retrieved 10 December 2017 – via www.BBC.co.uk.
- Bennhold, Katrin (13 August 2013). "Questions Follow Acid Attack on British Women in Zanzibar". Retrieved 10 December 2017 – via NYTimes.com.
- "Page Not Found - The Washington Post". WashingtonPost.com. 30 April 2012. Retrieved 10 December 2017.
- "Acid attack victims Katie Gee and Kirstie Trup". independent.co.uk. 10 August 2013. Retrieved 10 December 2017.
- Sharma, Dinesh C. (21 September 2013). "India promises to curb acid attacks". The Lancet. 382 (9897): 1013. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(13)61961-3. PMID 24063027. Retrieved 10 December 2017 – via www.TheLancet.com.
- Bryant, Ben (17 November 2017). "Everything you know about acid attacks is wrong". BBC Three. Retrieved 10 December 2017.
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