Liquid Hate – Acid Assault Cases In Kenya

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

This is one thing ‘Bob’ learned the hard way a few years ago when he had his face and upper body splashed with acid by a jilted lover. She cleverly lured him into a trap by asking him to drop her to pick some things at Sun ‘N’ Sand Beach Hotel in Kikambala off the Mombasa-Malindi highway.

She had done her homework well and knew that to get to the hotel which is quite interior from the highway, they would pass through some dark deserted areas. Love affairs are difficult to read from outside so whether the lady in question was actually jilted or not is something nobody except the two can know for sure. But I don’t think anyone deserves an acid bathe on the face for whatever reason.

They met at around 8.00 and set off to the hotel.

At the most deserted stretch, the lady poured the acid on the left side of his face and upper body. She also stabbed him but fortunately the knife did not touch any vital organs. It’s the burning and the realization that he was staring death in the face in a dark deserted place that was really getting at him.

He stayed there burning for close to two hours.

Fortunately he survived. He was rescued by a tours and travel van driver who was coming from the hotel and rushed to hospital where he stayed for months undergoing reconstructive treatment. His face was permanently disfigured by the time he left the hospital.

From the reports I’ve read around, an acid bathe at first feels like hot water on the skin. Then there’s stinging and a burning sensation that gets worse and worse as the acid eats into the flesh. The victim feels like his/her face is melting away.

A lot of victims of this heinous and cowardly crime die soon after the attack but those who survive require months of hospitalization and reconstructive surgery. It’s like the acid also continues to eat at the flesh of the victim way after treatment commences. Some have to have their faces rebuild piece by piece over time. Whichever way, they carry the physical and emotional scars for life. The Psychological trauma of permanent disfiguration is immense and considering that most attackers target the face, permanent blindness is common.

This cowardly but frightening phenomenon is not as common in Kenya as it is in countries like Cambodia and Nigeria but that does not mean it does not happen. Cases of acid assault reported at Kenyatta National Hospital for example are in the range of 4-5 per month.

In Nairobi Women’s hospital they’re few and far between but when they are brought in, they’re of such magnitude they’re not easily forgotten.

Acids and other corrosive substances belong to laboratories and industries but the thing is it’s very easy to acquire them. Sulphuric and Hydrochorolic acids which are the ones most commonly used by attackers are both readily available over the counter at Kshs.500 per liter. One can even get then from car repair shops for a pittance. Although Kenya has signed three UN conventions regulating the sale of acids and other corrosive agents, it’s yet to adopt this law within the country.

Acid wielding killers are just as bad as gun totting survivalists and just like we have gun controls, we need some regulation on sales of acids and other corrosive substances.

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