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Cabinet Approves Draft Law To Counter Acid Attacks

Nov Rey, 50, an acid attack victim, looks on as she waits to sing during a performance by traditional Cambodian musicians, file photo.

The Council of Ministers on Thursday approved a draft law to regulate acid, which is used in a number of disfiguring assaults for both men and women each year.

The attacks make use of hydrochloric or sulfuric acid and can be devastating for those who survive them, causing deep, permanent scars to the head, face and body. They can also be lethal.

While many of the cases that make headlines involve women, Chhum Chenda Sophea, a project manager for the Cambodian Acid Survivor Charity, said about half of the 350 victims she works with are men.

Motives of such attacks center around love triangles, money disputes or drunken aggression, she said. The organization has recorded 20 victims so far this year, Chhum Chenda said.

Am Sam Ath, lead investigator for the rights group Licadho, said the frequency of attacks continues with no sign of abatement.

“We see each year at least 30 cases made by acid attacks,” he said.

The law, which will now move to the National Assembly for debate, seeks to regulate the production, sale and distribution of acid, which also has industrial and other uses. It contains punishment of up to five years in prison for the illegal sale of acid and from 15 years to life for convicted assailants.