LONDON: Using acid as a weapon to disfigure women has become a worrying trend in Pakistan. But now the tables seem to have been turned on them and Pakistani men are reported to be facing the brunt of “revenge attacks” launched by women.
Over 8,500 acid attacks, forced marriages and other forms of violence against women were reported in Pakistan in 2011, the Daily Mail reported citing the Aurat Foundation, a women’s ri ghts organisation. The government introduced new laws last year criminalising acid attacks. Convicts would serve at least 14 years in jail.
Pakistan – a traditionally patriarchal society – has seen a sudden and mysterious rise in acid attacks being carried out against men by women, the daily said. One 24-year-old victim, Mr Sheikh Mohammad Noman, said his wife threw acid on him in a “revenge attack” when he refused to give her a divorce after she left him for her ex-husband, CNN reported.
“She said, ‘I’ve got something for you, please forgive me’. As soon as I turned around she threw acid on me. The pain of the acid is still there, but my heart aches too because I loved her and this is what she give to me in return,” the man said.
The report said the rise in attacks on men emerged following the suicide of a Pakistani woman who was scarred in an acid attack more than a decade ago. In March, 33-year-old former dancing girl Ms Fakhra Younus leapt to her death from a sixth floor building in Rome, 12 years after the attack.
In May 2000, her ex-husband Mr Bilal Khar was accused of entering her mother’s house and pouring acid over Ms Younus’s face as she slept. Her nose was almost completely melted and she underwent 39 surgical procedures over the last 10 years to repair her disfigured face. The attack also burned her hair, fused her lips, blinded her in one eye, damaged her left ear and melted her breasts.
The mother-of-one moved to Rome after the incident to continue her treatment. But she took her own life March 17, and left a message saying she was committing suicide over the silence of the authorities on the atrocities. Mr Bilal Khar – a former MP – was arrested in 2002 and charged with attempted murder. He was released on bail after five months.
Though Mr Khar, the son of a wealthy Pakistani governor, was eventually cleared of the attack, the report said many people believe he could have used his family connections to escape conviction. This year, Pakistani woman filmmaker Ms Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy became the first from her country to win an Oscar for the best documentary for “Saving Face”, about acid attacks on women.
The film chronicled the work of acclaimed British-Pakistani plastic surgeon Mr Mohammad Jawad. He travels around the country to perform reconstructive surgery on survivors of acid violence. The documentary was filmed entirely in Pakistan, BBC reported.