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‘She can barely see from her good eye, too’

Updated August 08, 2015
FAMILIES of acid attack victims and civil society activists protest near the Sindh Assembly building on Friday.—White Star
FAMILIES of acid attack victims and civil society activists protest near the Sindh Assembly building on Friday.—White Star

KARACHI: Several human rights activists were joined by families of victims at a demonstration near the Sindh Assembly building on Friday to protest recent acid attack cases and the non-implementation of the Acid Control and Crime Prevention Bill-2010 passed by the National Assembly in May 2011.

Six-month-old Mohammad Hadi with deep scars left by acid burns on the left side of his face was in his 19-year-old aunt Rahila Rahim’s lap when they threw acid on her face. Rahila was severely injured and deformed in the attack. Her assailant was her ex-fiancé, angry at her refusing to marry him.

Rahila’s family along with infant nephew were present at the demonstration. Her sister Nausheen Aftab, the baby’s mother, said that he was scarred for life. Meanwhile, Rahila, the real target of the heinous attack, has lost one eye and her face is unrecognisable. “She can barely see from her good eye, too. She was a very pretty girl. We can’t bear to see her now,” her sister said.

Another victim Sidra’s mother, Kaniz Bano, said her daughter was just going somewhere with her sister when they were approached by a boy in their Baldia Town neighbourhood. “He asked Sidra to marry him and when she told him to get lost, he threw acid on her. My daughter’s entire face is destroyed with her losing sight in one eye,” the mother said.

“We are poor people. My husband is dead and we don’t have any other male family members. Me and my other daughter are taking care of Sidra now and can’t keep our regular jobs either,” she added.

Farzana, mother of 15-year-old Zakia, another acid attack victim, said that her daughter was doing laundry at home and she herself was out for grocery shopping while her husband was at his job when four men and three women sneaked inside their home from the door left open by their younger children playing in the street. “They caught my daughter unawares when they threw acid on her face. They were upset when we turned down their marriage proposal as their son was much older and divorced. The boy, his father, brothers, sisters and mother all came. One by one all are being arrested but my daughter’s entire life is ruined,” the mother cried.

A fourth case highlighted by the protesters was that of air hostess Zainab. There, too, she had refused a marriage proposal.

The protesters raised slogans about acid being cheaper than flour here. “It’s so easily accessible. The shops selling it don’t even think twice. We want it sold under licence only with the buyers also submitting a copy of their national identity card to the sellers,” said Erum Javed of the Aurat Foundation.

“These four acid attack cases happened over a period of two months only. The victims are facing a fate worse than death,” she added. “We want the toughest punishments for the attackers.”

Abida Ali of Piler said that they had especially come to protest in front of the Sindh Assembly building because they wanted the respected members of the provincial assembly to turn their attention to this very serious issue. But the gates to the road leading to the assembly building were closed and the police didn’t allow them to go any further.

The protesters, belonging to various organisations, including Aurat Foundation, Women’s Action Forum, URC, HRCP, SPO, Hands, Piler, War Against Rape, Shirkat Gah, PMA, National Organisation for Working Committee, PFF, The Law Society Pakistan and Asian Human Rights, demanded from the Sindh government to arrange a Rs1,000,000 in compensation for each victim. They said the victims were not very well off and needed money for their medical expenses. They also deserved a fresh start in life and could use some help in starting some new work or small business in order to earn a decent living.

Published in Dawn, August 8th, 2015

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