A 30-year-old woman was attacked with acid on Tuesday morning in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district, according to police and an aid worker, though their accounts of the severity of the victim’s injuries differed.
Lay Chan Thou was riding her motorcycle in Boeng Tompun commune when two men on another motorcycle doused her with acid, said municipal police chief Touch Naruth.
“Her face is OK as she was wearing a helmet,” he said, adding that police were searching for the two culprits.
Mr Naruth said he did not know how many acid attacks had occurred in the capital so far this year.
Boeng Tompun commune police chief Tep Bora declined to comment on the attack yesterday and referred questions to the district police office. Meanchey district police chief Thy Narin said that police were searching for the two attackers before hanging up the phone.
Ms Chan Thou is currently being treated at Phnom Penh’s Cambodian Acid Survivors Charity, said Chhun Sophea, the charity’s program manager.
“She has burns to her face, arms and legs,” she said.
“The victim doesn’t want to talk yet,” she added. “Normally they don’t talk straightaway.”
Tuesday’s attack is at least the fifth acid attack registered in Phnom Penh so far this year, Ms Sophea said.
Acid attacks melt both human flesh and bone, causing great pain and leaving victims with extensive scarring and enormous social stigma.
Many survivors are left with permanent disabilities such as blindness and deafness, and scar tissue can make it difficult for them to move. Victims often shy away from filing a court complaint due to high legal costs, and perpetrators—if caught—often escape with inadequate sentences, aid workers say.
The government is currently drafting a law on the use and management of acid that if passed, could reportedly hand perpetrators of acid attacks life sentences.
In February, committee members completed the first draft and decided to ensure that importers and sellers of acid would have to be at least 20 years old and licensed to buy or sell the corrosive substance.