Photo shows acid-burn marks on the face of 18-year-old actress Bushra shortly before she was taken to Peshawar's Lady Reading Hospital.—Photo courtesy Zahir Shah Sherazi
PESHAWAR: A young Pashto actress suffered critical burn injuries Saturday after a local TV drama producer allegedly threw acid on her while she was asleep in her home, family members claimed.
Akhtar Waiz, the brother of 18-year-old Bushra, told Dawn.com that the family was asleep in the courtyard of their home in Nowshera early Saturday when the attacker barged into the house, throwing acid on Bushra. The brother said his feet were also burnt with drops of acid.
Bushra, who is also known as Shazia Aziz, is a Pashto-language singer, actress and theatre artist from Pabbi area in Nowshera district of northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
The family members of the young actress have accused her producer Shaukat Khan, who had been forcing her for marriage and was also not willing to pay her the money he owed her for her work, they claim.
“I couldn’t see him myself but I am sure he was Shaukat as my sister had refused to continue working in his dramas and that’s why he resorted to this act of violence,” he alleged.
The actress was brought to Peshawar’s Lady Reading Hospital with severe burn injuries on the right side of her face. Doctors said her right leg and arm were also badly affected by the highly concentrated acid.
Bushra’s right eye was also swollen but doctors said she may not have lost her vision, and was in her senses when brought to the hospital.
“My daughter used to work as an actress and was hired by a producer named Shaukat Khan to act in his stage dramas and plays…but he was not willing to pay her and this led to a number of verbal arguments following which she refused to continue her acting,” said the victim’s mother.
“We have registered a case against Shaukat Khan as he was also forcing her to marry him,” she said. Ijaz Khan, the chief officer (SHO) at Pabbi police station confirmed an FIR (police report) has been registered against Shaukat Khan on the complaint of the victim’s family.
Khan said the police have initiated its investigation.
The accused, Shaukat Khan, was unavailable for comment.
Acid attacks on the rise in northwest Pakistan
Bushra is only the most recent victim of acid attacks – a crime that experts say is on the rise in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
In year 2012, 150 acid attack cases were registered in Pakistan, 30 of which were reported from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Mardan district alone.
According to the Islamabad-based NGO, Acid Survivors Foundation, the data shows an upward trend in this form of violence on womenfolk. 45 per cent of the acid attacks are the result of family feuds while 17 per cent are linked to over marriage refusals.
Keeping in view the population of KP, the number of reported cases has put the province at a higher risk of acid-related violence, said ASF Pakistan chairperson Valerie Khan Yousafzai.
Peshawar, Dera Ismail Khan and Mardan are the districts where such cases have been reported in the last few years while no proper legislation exists for punishing the perpetrators of the crime, she said.
According to a report by the Aurat Foundation in January 2013, although the total number of report cases of violence against women has decreased by 12 per cent, a deeper analysis shows a significant 89 per cent increase in reported cases of acid-throwing, followed by a 62 per cent rise in domestic violence.
Qamar Naseem, coordinator at women’s rights organization Blue Veins said that the rising trend of using acid as “a weapon against women in KP/FATA is really alarming and needs to be curbed.”
Naseem said that although the Acid Crime and Control Act, 2010 provides protection to victims and punishment to perpetrators of life terms in prison and Rs 500,000 fine, there is a dire need for its implementation.
He urged the provincial government to restrict the sale of acids in the open market, and to come up with comprehensive legislation to stop this form of violence against women.