Men throw acid on us with the intention of injuring or disfiguring us. Men throw acid on our bodies, burn our faces, smash our noses, melt our eyes, and walk away as happy men.
Acid attack is common in Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Afghanistan, Nepal, Cambodia, and a few other countries. Men throw acid on us because men are angry with us for ending relationships and for refusing sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, proposals of marriage, demands for dowry. They throw acid on us for attending schools, for not wearing Islamic veils, for not behaving well, for speaking too much, for laughing loudly.
She was 18, a college student. Three of her neighbors sexually harassed her for more than two years and then threw acid on her. Her skin on the skull, face, neck, chest and back were melted away. After nine years of that attack Sonali Mukherjee is now blind in both eyes and partially deaf. Her father spent millions of rupees for her treatment. They have now no money. The attackers got bail from the High Court, continued threatening to kill her. She is now asking the government to help her or allow her to end her life.
The face of Sokreun Mean, who was blinded and disfigured by an acid attack.
Carsten Stormer, a German journalist & photographer said,
“Acid attacks deprive people of more than their looks and sight. Families are torn apart. Husbands leave their wives. Children are separated from their parents. Jobs vanish overnight, turning professionals into beggars. Many victims cannot get through a day without constant assistance, becoming burdens on their families. All bear the mark of the pariah.
“What remains is a traumatized society in which domestic disputes, unhappy love affairs, and professional rivalries are nearly always resolved through violence. Hardly a family without its members lost to the ideological battles of the Khmer Rouge – a curse that is passed on from parents to children. Battery acid is known to be most uncomplicated way of causing lifelong suffering. A dollar will buy you a quart of acid on any street corner. The perpetrators are seldom punished. Their targets become outcasts.”
Fakhra Younus was attacked by her husband Bilal Khar, ex-MPA of the Punjab Assembly and the son of Pakistani Politician Ghulam Mustafa Khar. He threw acid in her face after they split up. Tehmina Durrani, the author of ‘My Feudal Lord’, the former step mother of Bilal Khar tried to help Fakhra. She was sent to Italy for treatment. After having 39 re-constructive surgeries, Fakhra committed suicide.
The stories of the girls, from left to right:
Ten years ago Shahnaz Bibi was burned with acid by a relative due to a familial dispute. She has never undergone plastic surgery. Najaf Sultana is now 16. At the age of five Najaf was burned by her father while she was sleeping. Her father didn’t want to have another girl in the family. Najaf became blind. Shameem Akhter (20) was kidnapped and raped by a gang of men who then threw acid on her 3 years ago. Kanwal Kayum, now 26, was burned with acid one year ago by a man whom she rejected for marriage. Bashiran Bibi was burned at her husband’s house just after her marriage. Nasreen Sharif was a beautiful girl. When she was 14, her cousin poured a bottle of sulphuric acid in her face. He did it because he couldn’t stand boys whistling at her when she crossed the street. Her skin melted away, her hair burned away. She is now blind, she has no ears and she has no sense of smell.
Among others, there is Shaziya Abdulsattar, an eight-year-old girl. Shaziya’s father threw acid on her and her mother Azim last year after the mother refused to sell their two boys to a man in Dubai to use as camel racers.
It is very easy for a man to get sulphuric acid if he wants to attack a woman he does not like. The country has become a hot spot for acid attacks. A disfigured woman is not able to get married or get a job. She becomes a financial and social burden on her family.
Neela was forced to marry when she was 12 years old. Her husband threw acid on her face when she was 14. He was angry with Neela because her family was unable to give him the dowry money he asked for.
Ameneh Bahrami rejected the offer of having a relationship with Majid Movahedi, a fellow student at the University of Tehran. He then threw a bottle of acid in her face.
A man threw acid on a 13-year-old girl’s face to take a revenge. The older sister of the girl said: “You have to grow crocodile skin to clean the wounds of an acid survivor. The worst ordeal was while in the hospital, as the skin kept peeling off. I didn’t realize that the tongue skin was also peeling off. The young girl was pushing something in her mouth. I opened her mouth to see and found that almost the whole tongue had come off. I had to pull it out like you do with a cow and only a little red thing (tongue) remained.’
Nitric acid, sulphuric acid, hydrochloric acid are today’s weapons of choice for criminals who hate women. These acids are easy to buy, easy to hide, easy to carry, and easy to throw. A person who witnessed many acid attacks , said, ‘in a less than a minute the bone under the skin can start to be exposed. If there is enough acid, the bone itself can become a soft mass of non-distinguishable jelly. Internal organs can dissolve. Fingers, noses and ears can melt away like chocolate on a hot day.’
Twenty-one-year-old woman Kamilat Mehdi’s life was changed forever when a stalker threw sulphuric acid in her face. Ismail, Kamilat’s brother said: “The man who attacked her stalked her for a few years. He gave her a hard time but she didn’t tell the family for fear that something would happen to them. He was always saying he would use a gun on them.” Ultimately the stalker’s weapon of choice was not a gun, but a bottle of acid. He used it on Kamilat and destroyed her entire life in one second.
Her lover did it. Richard Remes threw sulphuric acid on Patricia Lefranc. Her nose and eyelids were melted away, she lost sight in one eye and hearing in one ear, she also lost a finger. She came close to death, as the corrosive substance nearly burned through her heart and lungs.The horrific attack physically and emotionally scarred her for life. What was her crime? She ended her relationship with Richard Remes, a married man.
We are more abused, harassed, exploited, kidnapped, raped, trafficked, murdered by our lovers, husbands, fathers, brothers, uncles, cousins, friends, or men we know well than by strangers. Whatever happens to us, we never stop loving men.