Chemical attacks similar to the incident in Clapham are often committed by 'rejected' men 'marking their territory' and highlight the dangers faced by women, campaigners have said.
Police are searching for the man responsible for the attack in south London on Wednesday evening, where a 31-year-old woman and her daughters, aged eight and three, were targeted with what is believed to be an alkaline substance. The attacker, who had travelled from Newcastle earlier on Wednesday, escaped on foot after crashing his car into a stationary vehicle.
The man police are searching for in connection to the attack was convicted of a sexual offence in 2018. Police have urged people to avoid and report any sightings of 35-year-old Abdul Ezedi, who is from the Newcastle area and is said to have “significant injuries to the right side of his face”.
Nimco Ali, a feminist activist, told Yahoo News UK that 'horrific' acid attacks can be related to scorned men having their ego damaged. She said: "In domestic violence cases or cases where women are attacked with acids, it is because these men feel rejected, so it's their ego, so rather than just murdering women, they're basically marking their territory.So the whole point is that whole thing of you end up like, not just like harming the person but physically scarring them."
ActionAid UK said that acid attacks are in response to ‘harmful patriarchal norms” and are linked to 'a sense of male entitlement', adding that society needs to root out the causes of violence. A spokesperson told Yahoo: “The horrific attack in south London yesterday is a reminder that we need to address the root cause of violence against women and girls. We must consider how we can change social norms that permit men to assert power over women, the same norms that place value on women and girls based on their appearance.
“Tackling the patriarchy means ending all forms of violence against women and girls, for good.”
It is understood Ezedi, who is believed to be from Afghanistan, was convicted of a sexual offence in 2018 and given a suspended sentence at Newcastle Crown Court. The Crown Prosecution Service confirmed he was sentenced on January 9 of that year after pleading guilty to one charge of sexual assault and one of exposure. Ezedi was put on the Sex Offenders Register for 10 years.
He was granted asylum after two failed attempts, having reportedly travelled to the UK on a lorry in 2016, it is believed. Four members of the public were also injured in the Clapham attack after they tried to intervene whilst police were on their way to the scene on Lessar Avenue, south London. Five police officers also suffered minor injuries.
Superintendent Gabriel Cameron, a senior officer in Lambeth, said it "may be some time before hospital staff are able to say how serious (the life-changing injuries) might be".
We are now naming the man we want to speak in regards to the corrosive substance attack in Lambeth.
If you see Abdul Shokoor Ezedi, call 999 immediately. He should NOT be approached. pic.twitter.com/F7Ft57NIlW
— Lambeth Police | Central South BCU (@LambethMPS) February 1, 2024
Footage shows chemical attack unfolding in Clapham (The Telegraph)
Acid attacks that ‘devastate lives’ increase by 45 per cent in London (The Evening Standard)
The UK banned sales of acids to under-18s following an increase in attacks in 2017, and the Offensive Weapons Act 2019 made it illegal to carry a corrosive substance in a public place without good reason.
Last year, Acid Survivors Trust International (ASTI), a UK-based charity, found that the number of chemical attacks had risen dramatically. Their Freedom of Information request showed that attacks increased by 69% in 2022 when compared to the year before, with a total of 710 attacks.
Of that figure, 339 victims were women, and 317 were men; in 48 cases, the gender of the victims was unknown. The highest number of incidents occurred in Northumbria, with 183 attacks that year, followed by London and Merseyside.
ASTI added that the number of total incidents could be significantly higher as some police forces did not respond to their FOI.