A pair of women who were severely burned in separate acid attacks are now fighting to prevent similar assaults in the future by working to limit access to the caustic substance that disfigured them.
Esperanza Medina and Karli Butler, both victims of attacks with sulfuric acid, on Monday asked the Chicago City Council and lawmakers in Springfield to restrict the access of acids to the general public.
"On May 26, 2006, I was held at gunpoint and assaulted with sulfuric acid," Butler told the council. "It was on that day that a huge piece of me died. Actually, it was on that day that my attacker killed the woman that I knew and I became a burn survivor."
Butler now has scars on her face, arms and torso.
The testimony was in support of an ordinance proposed by Ald. Ed Burke (14th), who in introducing the measure pointed out that there have been five acid attacks in Chicago this year.
"The intent of this provision is to make it clear that (anything that could cause the kind of devastating injuries that these two ladies sustained) should not be for sale in Chicago," said Burke after hearing the tales of Butler and Medina.
The full City Council could take up the measure as early as Wednesday.
Currently, anyone can purchase the acid at any hardware store no questions asked. But after hearing testimony from the two women, the City Council Finance Committee recommended an ordinance that would increase fines for people found in possession of the substance.
City code already bars individuals outside the manufacturing, medical or scientific fields from purchasing the stuff, but the proposal would increase fines associated with it.
State Rep. Susana Mendoza is backing a similar measure in Springfield.
"This is not just a dangerous substance. This is a lethal weapon. There's not much difference between this and a gun," she said Monday.
Illinois merchants are approaching the proposal with caution.
"Although the products we sell have legitimate uses, there's always the potential that products will be used improperly," said Tinya Triche with the Illinois Retail Merchants Association.
Both Medina and Butler later this month will talk to state lawmakers to encourage the restricting the sale of the product state-wide.