FIR registered against husband for throwing acid on wife
ISLAMABAD, May 20th: A First Information Report (FIR) has been registered against a man who allegedly threw acid on his wife on May 19 after she refused to withdraw a divorce plea she submitted to a local court. The accused is still at large.
Duty Officer Shehzad Town Police Station Muhammad Ali told Daily Times said that Nageena Bibi, 34, was intercepted by her husband Irfan outside a house where she lived and worked as a maid and asked her to withdraw the divorce application.
He said FIR vide 272, under section 324 had been registered against Muhammad Irfan and a team of federal police had been tasked with apprehending the accused.
PIMS spokesman said that the upper part of the body including face, chest, and shoulders were badly burnt and that Nageena was in critical condition.
Nageena, who was already married, married Irfan about a year back against the will of her parents. Upon getting the news of second marriage, the former husband came to Islamabad and took his children to Multan. Shortly after her marriage to Irfan, Nagina came to know that Irfan was a drug addict and that he had lost his job too.
Two months back, she moved to the family court seeking a divorce from Irfan. Though Irfan made several attempts to patch up the issue and vowed to abandon taking drugs but to no avail. ( Daily Times)
Pakistan's acid attack victims pin hope on new laws
Naziran Bibi knows exactly what she would consider justice for the person who hurled acid in her face, burnt out her sight and disfigured her beyond recognition: an eye for an eye.An eye for an eye, she said, her rage palpable in her small rooms at a charity's office in Pakistan's capital, her children scrambling over her as she gropes for a sewing box and twists thread round her fingers.
"If someone burns a face with acid, his face should also be burnt with acid. If someone blinds someone's eyes, his eyes should also be blinded," says Bibi.
"Yes, I want it done... my life is over now."
Bibi is locked in a complicated legal tussle over the attack and is fighting for custody of her young children, while learning how to live without sight and struggling with surgeries to rebuild her ruined face.
She is only 23 years old, but with no upper lip, a barely reconstructed nose, scar tissue where her right eye should be and a raw red socket where her left eye once was, her youth is impossible to discern.
Married off against her will as a second wife to her brother-in-law after her husband died, Bibi says she was treated abysmally. Then one night last year, someone poured acid over her as she slept, causing horrendous burns.
Confused, in pain and fearing for the safety of her two daughters, she was coerced by her husband into blaming a man she believes was innocent, and is now trying to retract her initial statement.
Bibi thinks her husband was responsible, but he remains free.
"I was in a terrible condition. I had psychological problems. I was not normal mentally... I simply want punishment for him. I want to throw acid on him. Not only on him, but on everybody who throws acid on others," she said.
The uneducated woman from Pakistan's cotton belt in rural Punjab province may want brutal justice, but activists are pressing for a change in the law to help prevent such attacks.
Thanks to a struggle in the highest court in the land by another acid attack victim - Naila Farhat - campaigners are hopeful that this devastating form of violence can be curtailed.
Pakistan is a conservative Muslim country, where women - especially in poor, rural areas - can be treated like commodities with little protection provided by the police and under pressure not to disgrace their families.
"Their families will say 'it's the wrong thing to go to the courts, what will society think about you?'" said Sana Masood, the legal coordinator with Pakistan's Acid Survivors Foundation (ASF).
The nation remains without a domestic violence law. It has been drafted, but lawmakers say it is still under debate because a senator from a hardline Islamic party raised objections and sent the bill back to parliament.
Acid attacks are rising, with ASF recording 48 cases in 2009 and Masood says countless more probably go unreported because of social stigma.
That is up from about 30 cases in 2007, a rise that Masood says could be blamed on increased stress in people's lives as the country's economy deteriorates.
Farhat was just 13 years old when a man threw acid in her face in 2003 because her parents refused to let him marry her.
The attacker was sentenced to 12 years in prison and ordered to pay 1.2 million rupees (£8,882) in damages, but on appeal a high court reduced the damages and said the man could go free once the money was paid.
Enraged, Farhat and ASF went to the supreme court - the first acid attack case to be taken to the highest court - where judges overturned the high court ruling within minutes.
Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry took a personal interest in the case, and recommended that the government pass new legislation to control the sale of acid and increase punishment for acid attacks.
Masood says industrial-strength acid used in cotton processing can be bought by anyone for just a few dollars.
"Because of its easy accessibility to the general public, for very stupid domestic issues they will just throw acid on each other," she said. "It does not only destroy a person's face but it destroys a person's life."
He would also like the introduction of a law requiring the attacker to pay for their victim's painful and expensive treatment and counselling.
ASF has been pushing for such laws for years, but hopes that a bill will be tabled in parliament this month.
"They should, with relevant amendments, pass it unanimously and we don't expect the government to unnecessarily delay the process or create any blocks," said parliamentarian Marvi Memon, acknowledging the process could take months.
Without Farhat, these steps might never have been made, and she remains dedicated to helping other victims, coaching Bibi through her treatments and helping her come to terms with her future.
"I encourage other acid attack victims and tell them that they should continue fighting for their rights and should not hesitate to come out of their homes, they should come forward," said Farhat.( The Telegraph)
Pakistan acid victims rebuild ruined lives
At four years old, Gul-e-Mehtab already knows what she wants to do when she grows up.This little girl, whose name means "moonlight flower", wants to be a doctor in order to heal her own mother, Manzoor Attiqa.
"She says: 'Mama when I grow up, I will become a doctor. I will treat you, and then you will be perfect'," Manzoor says, with a proud smile.
Twenty-two-year-old Manzoor is a patient in surgical ward 10 in Benazir Bhutto hospital in the Pakistani city of Rawalpindi.
Manzoor says the attack followed a row over doing the dishes. The ward is a cluster of women in brightly coloured shawls, who share the same scars and the same trauma. All have been attacked with acid.
There are no reliable national statistics, but campaigners estimate that there may be as many as 150 victims every year.
It is an intimate crime - often carried out in the family home, by husbands or in-laws.Manzoor's attack followed a row over doing the dishes.
"It was seven o'clock in the morning, and I had just finished making breakfast," she says.
"My daughter was crying so I picked her up, but her grandmother said: 'Leave her and wash the dishes.' I told her that I would wash them, and that we had the whole day ahead of us. After this, they started beating me. I was unconscious for four or five days. I woke up in hospital in Lahore."
While she lay unconscious, Manzoor was drenched in acid. It devoured her lower lip, neck and shoulders and left her chin fused to her chest.
But when she speaks of the in-laws she blames for the attack, there is no bitterness. In spite of her injuries, and her suffering, she says that she has forgiven them.
"They are like my own mother and sisters," she says. "I just pray God shows them the right path, so they can't do this kind of thing to anybody else. I forgave them, so that they could realise they did wrong."
Get the sellers
When we meet Manzoor, she is about to have her sixth surgery - performed free by a group of Pakistani experts, and British volunteers, led by plastic surgeon Charles Viva.The retired NHS doctor, with a snow-white walrus moustache, has spent decades treating the poor around the globe, including many victims of acid burns.
Charles Viva, plastic surgeon
Retired plastic surgeon Charles Viva has treated many acid burns victims
"I feel very passionately angry about this because God has made us whole, and for somebody to do this causes a lot of distress for the patients and their families," he says. "We do what we can to give the women back their dignity."
In Manzoor's case, this means grafting skin from her leg on to her neck, so that she can lift her head fully.
Mr Viva wants action against those who sell the acid, not just those who throw it.
"I think we need some very strong deterrents to prevent this happening," he said.
"I think it's essential that the government and the authorities should target the people who perpetrate the crime, and those who supply the acid. They are just as guilty for giving the acid."
Two hours later, Manzoor is back in ward 10. Her surgery was a success, but it won't be her last.
'It didn't end my life'
Opposite her, in bed nine, Saira Liaqat is recovering from her latest operation - her 18th. Her face is still bandaged, but already she is sitting up, supported by her mother, Gulshan.
A medical file rests at the end of the bed, with photos of a striking girl in a gold headdress. That was Saira seven years ago, before she was attacked.
Saira Liaqat, after surgery, supported by her mother, Gulshan
Saira Liaqat was attacked several years ago, but has plans for the future. Acid has erased any resemblance to the pretty girl of the past, but it has not crushed her spirit. Since the attack, she has trained as a beautician."I want to own my own beauty parlour," she says.
"I want people to say 'that's the girl who suffered and didn't lose hope'. I want to support my parents as well as a son can. I want to show that person that even though he threw acid in my face, it didn't end my life."Saira's husband is still on trial for her attack. If convicted, he could get between five and 14 years. Gulshan wants an eye for an eye."He should either get the death penalty, or have acid thrown in his face, so he knows how it feels," she says.
"The law is weak in Pakistan. If criminals like him are given a tough punishment immediately, then nobody will do this kind of thing."
Campaigners are calling for the introduction of life sentences. They say that while Pakistan is finally waking up to this issue, there is still a long way to go.
"At the highest level, people like the chief justice are taking acid violence very seriously," says Valerie Khan of the Acid Survivors Foundation (ASF), which helps many of the victims."In the past six months, we are seeing higher sentences being handed down. But the vast majority of women are unable to even register a case. And police are still turning a blind eye, due to corruption and social pressure."
While she slept
One of many still waiting for justice is 23-year-old Naseera Bibi.She is friendly and talkative, in spite of her debilitating injuries.The acid thrown in her face, while she slept, ate through her nose and both of her eyes. She believes her husband was the culprit.
I've learnt how to knit sweaters and my children are back with me. I can't just sit around and lose hope
Naseera Bibi. She says she heard his voice next to her, as the acid melted her skin, telling her to say it was someone else.
"I started screaming. Then I heard my husband telling me whoever asks you who did it, just say it was Javed. I told him that I haven't seen anybody. He kept insisting whoever asks you, just say Javed did it."
Naseera's main concern now is how to provide for her children, without her sight."I've been taken to about 10 doctors, but there doesn't seem to be a chance of restoring my eyesight," she says.
"I've been very upset about this, because I have become a burden. But the ASF sent me to a school to study. I've learnt how to knit sweaters, and my children are back with me. I can't just sit around and lose hope."Like other acid attack survivors in ward 10, Nazeera has been robbed of her looks, but not of her courage.She has two dreams for the future - to send her children to school, and for her attacker to be punished. ( BBC)
Acid attack victim inspires Pakistani legislation
The Acid Control and Acid Crime Prevention Act (PDF 165KB), spearheaded by acid attack victim Naila Farhat and human rights activists, would increase punishment for perpetrators who throw or spray acid on their victims and would prohibit the sale of acid to those without licenses.
Nailia Farhat was attacked by a rejected suitor in 2003
“Realistically speaking, I should say we will be able to present it in the assembly by July,” Yasmeen Rehman, advisor to the prime minister and co-writer of the legislation, told Inter Press Service.Acid attacks are common in Pakistan—Acid Survivors Foundation (ASF) Chair Valerie Khan estimated at least 150 annually—and are particularly prevalent in the cotton-rich province of Punjab, where industrial strength sulphuric acid is inexpensive and used for cotton processing.
According to the Pakistani chapter of ASF, acid attacks in the country most commonly occur as a form of domestic abuse against women, though men are frequently attacked as well. Victims are left highly disfigured and are typically blinded.
Farhat was assaulted by a rejected admirer and her elementary school teacher on her way home from school in 2003. “”I felt it burning,” she told Time.com. “I couldn’t see clearly, but I could hear them laughing.” Farhat was thirteen at the time of the attack.
Farhat pressed charges and attended court sessions for six years, yet watched the teacher escape unpunished. Her ex-suitor, Irshad Hussein, was sentenced to twelve years in prison and fined 1.2 million rupees, the equivalent of $15,000. Hussein appealed and the sentence was decreased to four years and 110,000 rupees.
In November, when Farhat petitioned the Supreme Court to reinstate the original sentence, she became the first woman to win an acid attack case. “Because this happened to me, other women can now go directly to the Supreme Court and be heard,” she told Time.com.
During his ruling, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry spoke in support of a national law against acid attacks.
Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry supports a law against acid attacks
If passed, the Acid Control and Acid Crime Prevention Act will instate a life sentence and large fine for all acid attackers and require them to cover their victims’ medical costs.Currently those who sell acid to unlicensed buyers receive a 500 rupee fine, which is equivalent to six U.S. dollars. The law will increase the fine to 100,000 rupees and the possibility of a year in jail.The bill was written primarily by Parliamentarian Marvi Memon and supported, researched, and financed by several women’s rights organizations, including ASF, the United Nations Development Fund for Women, and Pakistan’s Ministry of Women Development. Supporters are bracing themselves for challenges to implementation; before it goes to a vote, the bill must be approved by the Council of Islamic Ideology.Religious conservatives in this government agency and in Parliament have spoken against the empowerment of Pakistani women and many subscribe to an interpretation of the Qur’an that states a man cannot be punished for violent discipline of family members.Regardless of the bill’s unknown future, Farhat, who told Time.com that she has “wanted justice” since her attack, said she is “very pleased and proud” of the support and awareness her court case has garnered. “With my win, there will be others,” she predicted.
Care for female victims of acid attacks
A chain of beauty salons in Pakistan is gearing up to cater for a new kind of client - burn victims whose beauty treatments will be more than skin deep.
Reporting of such attacks on women is on the increase in Pakistan.The charity already works in Bangladesh and India where this form of violence against women is common.Feudal society "Beauty isn't only about cosmetics and nose-jobs," says Tehmina Durrani, author of the 1994 Pakistani bestseller My Feudal Lord.
Acid attacks: What can be done?
Ms Durrani's book detailed her abusive marriage to Mustafa Khar, once Pakistan's most powerful feudal landlord from Punjab province.
She was his sixth wife and wrote the book after divorcing him in 1988.
Her courage in speaking out about her marriage brought another victim of feudal society to Tehmina Durrani's doorstep.
This one hadn't been so lucky.
Fakhra was married to Mustafa Khar's eldest son, Bilal.
She left her husband after years of abuse but paid the price for walking out on her "feudal lord".
She had acid poured on her face - and says Bilal did it. He is currently on bail awaiting trial.
Although acid burn cases account for only a fraction of overall cases of violence against Pakistani women, reports of them are alarmingly on the rise.
There were 46 cases reported in Punjab province alone in 2002, up from nine the previous year.
"It could have been me," says Ms Durrani, explaining why she decided to help Fakhra.
Depilex is an organisation that will not only treat her, but will rehabilitate her as well
Once during their marriage, Mr Khar threatened to throw acid on her, she says.
"I managed to get Fakhra out of the country but you can't take every victim to Italy."
Tehmina Durrani is keen to institutionalise the effort in Pakistan to benefit more burn victims.
Depilex owner Musarrat Misbah says the salon's nationwide network of outlets will enable burn victims to find a Smile Again centre near them.
"Most of the victims are not affluent and cannot afford to travel to Lahore or Islamabad," she points out.
Tehmina Durrani says: "This is an organisation that will not only treat a woman, but will rehabilitate her as well."
She says burn victims need very special care currently not available in Pakistan.
The country doesn't even have a proper burns unit at any hospital.Musarrat Misbah also says that an environment like a beauty salon can serve as a support group for the victims.
"With a disfigured face and body, a woman does not feel feminine anymore," she says.
The two women also plan to launch an awareness campaign aimed at minimising the damage caused by acid attacks.
"We want people to know what to do immediately after an attack," says Musarrat Misbah.
She says women are not aware of steps as simple as washing the affected area to dilute the acid.
An acid burn victim recently operated upon in Islamabad confessed she was not even aware acid had been thrown on her.
Read Zarina's story
Zarina Ramzan suffered the attack last July.
"I didn't even know acid had been poured on me, let alone that washing it with water would have minimised the damage," said Zarina.
It was six hours later when she reached a hospital in the nearest district headquarter in southern Punjab, that she was told she had suffered an acid attack.
"The doctor there told me if I had washed the acid away immediately, it would not have penetrated so deep."
Zarina has undergone 11 plastic surgery operations.Doctors at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences in Islamabad where she is now being treated say she needs several more."At the end of the day, it's all about beauty.
"We want every woman to look beautiful and for her to smile again," says Musarrat Misbah