Australia fights alcohol-fueled violence

Tue Nov 18, 2008 1:39am EST
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By Michael Perry

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Krystle Kelley's scarred face, slashed by an angry drunk woman with a broken glass, is the face of Australia's alcohol-fueled wave of violence.

"My eyeball was cut in half ... right through the back of the retina. I am permanently blind in one eye and have severe scaring," Kelley, 21, told Reuters.

"My whole life has been turned upside down from the age of 21. I can't work because I go to hospital every month to have several operations," she said.

"I spoke to two other people who had been 'glassed' and they suffer the same side effects. When they hear something break they are jumpy ... pretty much put their back against a wall, nightmares, sharp pains where they have actually been cut."

Each weekend, Australian cities like Sydney are littered with unconscious, vomiting and fighting young drunks.

Binge drinking by young Australians has reached frightening levels, say police and hospital staff who struggle to stem the violence and are left to repair the wounds of victims.

"We are becoming a much more violent, aggressive society. We are becoming intolerant of anything that annoys us ... and hence road rage, parking rage, trolley rage at the supermarket," says Dr Gordon Fulde, head of the emergency department at St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney.

"We are assaulting people more viciously. The violence is very, very nasty. Weapons are also involved now and the closest weapon when drinking is a glass or bottle," says Fulde, who treats bloodied victims of drunken fights each weekend.   Continued...

<p>Krystle Kelley talks with her boyfriend Damien Clout in Wollongong November 14, 2008. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz</p>