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Acid Victims in Pakistan

         Throwing acid in the face of a person is an act that is meant to hurt someone both emotionally and mentally. It’s a gruesome crime that seems immoral of someone to do, but happens too often in places like Pakistan and India, or usually in areas where women aren’t that powerful. Eighty percent of the time victims of acid attack are women and who are targeted for unembellished reasons like rejecting marriage proposals, not getting the right job, angering someone, or even being too beautiful. At only a dollar per bottle, acid is relatively easy to obtain, which leads to the plethora of attacks. This year alone, there were 150 reported cases of acid throwing. The question is: “why isn’t there a louder voice in regards to this issue?” This is due, more often than not, to victims being either too disfigured to do something about it or pressured into silence.Alas, women in patriarchal societies are silenced from the beginning.

         One case of a horrible acid attack was that of Sidra Yasmeen, who suffered an acid attack at the early age of thirteen.Yasmeen was attacked for not going to a place with her friend’s brother. Even in court, her father was threatened from several people to drop the case. Her acid attacks caused her whole face to become deformed. Yasmeen’s eyesight is all gone, her hair is damaged, eyebrows that have needed several transplants, and has had several surgeries done to her eyes and neck. In this case, the attackers were given jail time, but this outcome is extremely rare.

         Not only does society make things difficult to reach justice, but the justice system itself also takes a long winded four years to allow the case to reach to court. Going through an acid attack is not a memory that can be suppressed by the brain easily. An acid attack causes deep trauma, permanent physical scarring, and usually irreversible Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Most significantly,it changes the victim’s life for the worse as normalizing life as usual is extremely difficult. Society refuses to accept people who are disfigured. It’s hard to get jobs, and some women even get disowned by their own family for merely being an unfortunate victim.

         In 2012, Pakistan passed a law that established a pathway for victims to seek justice. With extremely slow development, acid throwing was made into a crime. However, this step forward was an illogical step backward for victims. In this law, the victims have to actually prove that the attacker was planning on killing them. This is difficult to do since the attacker can just defend him/herself by saying “if I wanted to kill that person, I would have just shot her.”

         However, there is a positive side. According to Valeria Khan, since this law was established, conviction rates of  acid attackers went up to about 18%. This is a drastic improvement, especially coming from a country where women are often belittled to mere commodities. To have a law like this passed means that several women had to courageously fight society and get their voices heard. Even speaking up earns you an acid to the face. These women have courage. Tightening laws have really helped keep down the numbers of acid attacks while also giving courage for victims to speak up, inherently increasing attacks reported. A way to decrease the crime rate would be by raising the prices of a bottle of acid as it would decrease the accessibility of acid. However, truthfully this does not make a large dent in the problem but rather pushes aggressors to other methods of weapons. So, the need to change societal perception is more important than the need to limit aggressors. It is always more important to prevent the birth of the mindset such attackers than prevent weapons from reaching the attacker.
         Various solutions to this would be reforming education and changing cultural norms.Other methods that could help decrease this vicious crime would be to actually have harsher punishments against the attackers. Punishment for acid throwing is jail time. But this doesn’t give back the life of the victim nor equate punishment with the gravity of the crime. The attackers are still able to eat, communicate, and walk with regular people in months or years time. However, acid victims have a difficult time fulfilling the basic needs as a human such as breathing or eating. Introducing harsher laws not only shows that the country has changed its way from conforming to a male centered society but also that it is putting a stand against the very ideology and ignorance of attacking women.

 

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For medical/surgical/psychological care in patient rehabilitation programs, you can donate funds. Visit www.asti.org.uk , click DONATE, you will find a donation form, Select ASF-Pakistan when you are asked whom would you like to support. The donation will be transferred to ASF-Pakistan only if you select ASF-Pak

 

 

Image Attribute: Wiki Commons

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and/or student and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of United 4 Social Change Inc., its board members, or officers.
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