Acid tossed in Bogotá woman´s face highlights Colombia´s ugly, shocking crime
A container full of corrosive acid tossed in the face of an attractive, young Bogotá woman has shocked even this nation numbed by decades of revolution and violence.
In a country where gangsters cut living victims to pieces with chainsaws so their screams will send messages to the community and the picturesque countryside is littered with scores of unmarked mass graves, shock doesn´t come easily.
But this week, Colombia focused its full attention on the condition of Natalia Ponce de León and the hunt for the man who forever changed her life when he tossed the acid into her face and over her 30 per cent of her body.
In the 10 days since the acid attack on Ponce de León, two other women have been attacked with corrosive acid in Bogotá streets. The latest on Saturday night suffered burns on 60 per cent of her body.
There was some relief on the weekend when police announced they had arrested a young man, with acid burns on his arms and hands, the suspect they believe tossed the corrosive liquid in Ponce de León´s face.
Even so, the crime forced Colombians to deal with – if only for a few days until a new tragedy dominates the news – a crime so terrible, so senseless that it shakes even a society acclimatized to decades of violence.
The facts paint an ugly picture. More people suffer acid attacks in Colombia than in any country in the world on a per capital basis. From 2004 to 2013, 928 persons were attacked with acid.
Contrary to common belief, there were almost as many male (457) victims as female (471) victims.
The victims suffer immense physical and emotional wounds. Colombia now has some world leading surgeons in repairing the terrible disfigurements of face and body.
President Juan Manuel Santos was forced to deal with the issue as outrage over the crime intruded on the presidential election campaign. Citizens demanded to know why the government hasn´t increased penalties for such attacks And they demanded to know why politicians have not restricted the availability of such destructive chemicals.
And citizens marched in Bogotá park near where Ponce de León worked days in a shop with her mother, before heading out to classes to study in the evenings.
Many said the terrible crime is a symptom of a much larger crisis, a country where women are vicitimized by the conflict and in their own homes.
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