Saturday February 16, 2019
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How loopholes in government’s policies are failing the acid attack survivors

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Acid attack victim
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By Purnima Pahuja

Geeta was only 22-year-old when a miscreant threw acid on her face after she objected to his sexual advances.

“After such an incident had happened in my life, no one came forward to help me or support me except my mother. I know that nobody has a perfect life, but after whatever happened with me was not the life I ever wanted. I was discarded by the society. And now I want to scream to the world and say that yes, even I can live a normal life like you and even I stand the same in the society as you,” says the acid attack survivor Geeta Lodhi, who is now 37-year-old and works with an organization called Stop Acid Attack which helps acid attack survivors live a dignified life.

Geeta’s story echoes the tale of the many acid attack victims, who face partiality in the society and struggle to pay for their medical support.

Due to the lack of government aid, most acid attack victims find it difficult to pay for the medical assistance which involves plastic surgeries, says Geeta.

Recently, the Central government had announced about the free medical treatment and compensation of Rs 3, 00,000 to the survivors, but this policy has technical flaws.

Though the government has decided to provide the aid, it has not designated any specific body to look after the issue. The survivors do not know where to go and ask for relief.

“In April 2013, the amendments made by the J.S Verma Committee made acid attacks an offense, stating both medical attention and compensation must be given to victims, but it did not specify the type of treatment or the amount of funds to be given,” says Ashish Shukla, an active member of the campaign group Stop Acid Attacks.

According to a Home Ministry report, there were 309 acid attack cases reported in 2014 compared to 66 cases in the previous year.

The rise in number of cases highlights two key points. First there are no strict laws in the country to deal with acid attackers, and second, there are no regulations to deal with the sale of chemicals.

“Acids are being used as weapons, and there is a need of a separate law to deal with the sale and purchase of chemicals which include neat hydrochloric and sulfuric acids also,” said an active member of the campaign group.

 

Next Story

The Partial Shutdown Of The Government Of United States Ends

The shutdown furloughed 800,000 government employees, with at least 420,000 required to continue working without pay, and the remainder sent home

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Internal Revenue Service employees Brian Lanouette, of Merrimack, N.H., center right, and Mary Maldonado, of Dracut, Mass., right, join with others as they display placards during a rally by federal employees and supporters, Jan. 17, 2019. VOA

The U.S. Office of Management and Budget sent a memo late Friday to closed federal government departments and agencies to inform them that their divisions are now open and their employees can return to work.

The memo called on the agencies to “reopen offices in a prompt and orderly manner.”

The memo said the OMB appreciates the “cooperation and efforts during this difficult period” of the government shutdown.

Earlier, U.S. President Donald Trump signed a three-week spending bill, ending the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.

“After 36 days of spirited debate and dialogue, I see that Democrats and Republicans are willing to put partisanship aside, I think, and put the American people first,” Trump said in a Rose Garden announcement. “This is an opportunity for all parties to work together for the benefit of this beautiful nation.”

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The dome of the U.S. Capitol is seen beyond a chain fence during the partial government shutdown in Washington, Jan. 8, 2019. VOA

By Friday evening, both the U.S. Senate and House had approved the legislation, which Trump then signed.

The bill funding the government through Feb. 15 does not include money for the construction of Trump’s proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall. The president said that a bipartisan committee would be formed in the meantime to evaluate border security, but, contrary to previous claims, he was not asking for a concrete wall along the entire U.S.-Mexico border.

“We do not need 2,000 miles of concrete wall from sea to shining sea. We never proposed that,” he said.

The announcement came on the 35th day of the shutdown, when roughly 800,000 federal employees missed their second consecutive paycheck.

 

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., accompanied by Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of N.Y., left, speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 25, 2019, after President Donald Trump announces a deal to reopen the government for three weeks. VOA

 

It also came shortly after incoming flights to New York’s LaGuardia airport were delayed because of staffing issues, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The FAA also said that departure delays at LaGuardia, as well as Philadelphia and Newark airports, were the result of air traffic control staffing shortages.

Early Saturday morning, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi named the Democratic House members — Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey of New York, Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security Chairwoman Lucille Roybal-Allard of California, David Price of North Carolina, Barbara Lee of California, Henry Cuellar of Texas, Pete Aguilar of California — who will serve on the bipartisan committee to evaluate border security.

Speaking to reporters at the Capitol Friday after Trump’s announcement, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Trump agreed to Democratic demands to separate the discussion on reopening the government from border security. He said he hopes Trump has “learned his lesson.”

 

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President Donald Trump speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House, Jan 25, 2019, in Washington. VOA

 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters, “I see every crisis as a challenge or an opportunity” and was careful not to characterize Trump’s motives during the government shutdown.

Trump’s announcement reversed his position from Thursday, when he said he would accept a deal to at least temporarily reopen the federal government if it contained a “pro-rated down payment” on the U.S.-Mexico border wall he has sought.

“It’s just common sense, walls work,” Trump said Friday, arguing the barrier would keep out criminals, human traffickers and drugs.

In an apparent reference to reports he was considering declaring a national emergency at the border, Trump said he had “a very powerful alternative” but chose not to use it. He said that option was still on the table if Congress could not come to an agreement within the three-week funding period.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he hopes there will be “good-faith negotiations’’ in the coming weeks to settle differences on border security.

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People rally to call for an end to the partial government shutdown in Detroit, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. VOA

A growing number of lawmakers of both parties have said compromise is the only way to end the political stalemate and reopen the government.

“It is long overdue for all sides to come together, to engage in constructive debate and compromise to end this standoff,” Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins said. “Shutdowns represent the ultimate failure to govern and should never be used as a weapon to achieve an outcome.”

Also Read: A Quarter Of U.S. Jobs To Be Affected By Advancement Of A.I.

The shutdown furloughed 800,000 government employees, with at least 420,000 required to continue working without pay, and the remainder sent home, some of whom have been forced to look for temporary work elsewhere to help pay their household bills. All are set to miss their second biweekly paycheck on Friday.

Some government services have been curtailed, as about 10 percent of airport security agents ordered to work have instead called in sick, some food inspections have been cut back, and museums and parks are closed. Federal courts warned they could run out of money by the end of the month. (VOA)