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Study highlights acid attack violence in Cambodia


Brigid Veale
27 May 2005
A Southern Cross University student will return to Cambodia next month to begin a research project on women who experience acid attack violence.

Ms Jane Welsh, who has just completed a Bachelor of Social Science and will start her Honours at the end of June, said acid attacks were a common occurrence in the Cambodian capital and many of the smaller communities.

Ms Welsh spent a year in Cambodia as an AusAID Youth Ambassador for Development (AYAD). During her placement with the Association of Blind in Cambodia as a project advisor, she established a social club for survivors of acid attack violence.

She said it was hoped the new research study would give survivors an opportunity to share their experiences and stories and create the momentum for change.

"Acid attacks are a brutal form of torture and are a common practice in some of the smaller communities. It involves the throwing of sulphuric or nitric acid onto another person leaving them scarred physically, socially and emotionally for life," Ms Welsh said.

"Women injured in the attacks, many of whom are blinded or disfigured, are often shunned by their families and communities and there are few support services available to them."

Ms Welsh said the acid attacks caused excruciating pain and terror.

"My long-term goal is to create opportunities for the women to gain access to services and resources. There are many women who are disabled but cannot access services or accommodation. Unfortunately, these women are isolated and ignored."

She is hoping to raise awareness of this issue and to also raise further funds to enable her to stay in Cambodia for about four months to complete her Honours research. She will be leaving Australia in late June.

Photo caption: Jane Welsh and colleague Tia In Souvthea working at the Association of the Blind in Cambodia.