Over the years, thousands of individuals, a vast majority of them being young women, have fallen victim to acid attacks in Pakistan. Acid attack is a barbaric and heinous crime that leaves victims with physical and psychological scars for a lifetime. Victims are, ironically, also shunned by society as the physical scars seldom fully heal.
Recently, a 27-year-old female domestic help was attacked with acid in Lahore by a young man who was reportedly incensed by the girl’s refusal to marry him. The injured girl has been admitted to a hospital, and her family has lodged a report with the police. The girl’s brother says that the attacker had been harassing his sister for a long time and he never contacted the family about his marriage proposal. The girl told the police that the man, upon refusal of his proposal, threatened her that “I will not leave you worth anything”. On the fateful day, while she was on the way to work he stopped her and told her that he would drop her to her workplace. Following her refusal he poured acid on her face. She suffered burn injuries to her face, neck and hands. The attacker is still at large.
From 2007 to 2018, according to a non-governmental organisation, at least 1,186 cases of acid attacks were reported in the country in which 1,485 persons fell victim. The NGO claimed that such cases registered a drastic drop since 2014. In order to curb the cruel crime, parliament enacted a law which prescribes 14 years in jail as minimum punishment for the crime and the maximum punishment of life imprisonment. In 2017, another law was passed which entitles victims to free of charge treatment. The two legislations also made access to acid difficult. In spite of these laws having been in place, the persistence of the cruel crime shows that acid can still be procured easily. What is needed is to entirely block the access to acid.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 10h, 2021.