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Love and acid attacks

Have You Ever Loved Me? This is the name of a Cambodian movie starring Preap Sovath, Keo Sreyneang and Saray Sakana. Directed by Malaysian Brando Lee, Have You Ever Loved Me? involves a love triangle between the characters played by the Khmer actors.

This suspense thriller, scheduled to be released in late November, leaves all three asking “have you ever loved me?”

The desire to love has produced some of the world’s most famous sculptures, paintings, poetry, songs, as well as novels, plays and movies. Love is one of the most intense of all human emotions.

Dr Helen Fisher, an anthropologist and a member of the Center for Human Evolutionary Studies at Rutgers University in the US, believes love isn’t simply about emotions, but is a drive like hunger that needs to be satisfied.

Every country interprets love, relationships and marriage differently. In many Asian countries, an individual expects love to grow as a marriage unfolds over time and emphasizes practical concerns, such as income potential and compatibility with the extended family.

In countries like the United States and Canada, the individual emphasises the passionate side of love when looking for a mate, and focuses more on feelings of excitement and physical attraction.

Love is a universal language, but when love is scorned, it can cause excruciating pain and sorrow. As a result, crimes of passion, high divorce and adultery rates are prevalent in societies around the world.

Acid attacks are one of the worst crimes a person can commit, and are common in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Bangladesh, India and Cambodia.

The Cambodian Acid Survivors Charity (CASC), a refuge where people recovering from acid attacks receive care and rehabilitation, recorded 308 acid attacks involving 378 victims between 1979 and 2012.

Perpetrators of these attacks throw acid at their victim’s faces, damaging skin tissue and bones. The types of acid used are sulfuric or nitric acid, two of the strongest acids, which can eat through the skin, muscle and even bones.

The long term effects of acid attacks include blindness and permanent scarring of the face and body. Many assume an acid attack involves a love triangle and the victims are mostly women. But 48 per cent of acid attack victims are men, and almost 14 per cent are children under 13.

A report by Licadho stated acid throwing is usually an act of revenge, motivated by jealousy or hatred, because of a personal relationship problem such as a broken love affair or marriage, unfaithfulness or rejection.

The perpetrator blames the victim and the intention is not to necessarily kill the victim, but to leave them marked physically and emotionally for the rest of their life.

The Cambodian government passed tough laws targeting acid violence last year, but many survivors are still waiting for justice.

Advocates for acid attack victims say they’re hopeful the cases will make it to trial – the law carries tough penalties for offenders – and they also want strict regulations on the sale of  acids.

Acid attacks are very destructive for Cambodian society and culture and set a bad example for the young.

Stop the acid attacks and start loving people. Meet life with love and you will find love in life.

The Social Agenda with Princess Soma Norodom.
The views expressed above are solely the author’s and do not reflect any positions taken by The Phnom Penh Post.

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