Brave Acid Victim Claims London Is Hot Spot For Attacks

Story ByAngjela TrajkovskaSub EditorJoseph GolderAgencyCEN

A famous acid attack victim and political activist has claimed that London is one of the worst cities in the world for chemical attacks.

Natalia Ponce de Leon made the comments during a recent interview about the Colombian law named after her that sees perpetrators jailed for up to 50 years.

On 27th March 2014, 33-year-old Ponce de Leon was attacked in the central Colombian capital Bogota when she went to meet her ex-boyfriend Bernardo Lodono.

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Pictures Credit: CEN/@nataliaponcedeleon

However, the man waiting for her was not Lodono but Jonathan Vega, who was reportedly obsessed with her and frustrated that she did not give him any attention.

He threw a litre of acid over her face and body, and is currently serving a 20-year sentence for the crime.

At the time, Ponce de Leon was hailed for her courage to report the incident and became a national symbol for acid-attack victims.

Now 38 years old, she heads the Natalia Ponce de Leon Foundation, which is a non-profit organisation created to defend, promote and protect the rights of victims of chemical attacks.

Tough laws on acid attacks were introduced under Ponce de Leon’s name in 2016, and she recently spoke about the effects of being a victim.

She said: “One of the cities with the most acid attacks is London. In Asian countries such as India and Bangladesh and in Latin countries like Mexico and Colombia, acid attacks are a form of gender violence.”

“They target women because of male chauvinism, out of obsession because our patriarchy sees us as objects. And when men cannot ‘have us’, they burn us. They destroy us.”

“It is almost always a partner, ex-partner or a family member. In other countries, such as England and other places in Europe, acid attacks are a part of street violence between gangs and drug traffickers.”

“Now considered a crime with its own punishment, someone who uses a chemical agent to harm another person can go to prison for between 12 and 20 years.

“If it causes deformity or permanent damage such as blindness, the sentence can go up to 30 years, and if there are aggravating circumstances such as premeditation or if the victim is a minor, the penalty is up to 50 years.”

Ponce de Leon urges women to report any incident of male chauvinism, and always fight it in all its forms.

She recently shared a photo of herself in bikini. Netizen ‘Villotaliliana’ commented: ‘You are beautiful. God bless you.”

‘Beatrizcontrerasmarin’ added: “You are a brave woman.”

Angjela Trajkovska

I am a journalist and subeditor working for Central European News.