Another acid attack was reported in Pakistan on Friday when an eighteen-year-old Pashto girl, Bushra Waiz, was attacked by a man on Saturday.
When it comes to news reports about heinous crimes like sexual assaults and acid-throwing in the sub-continent countries, the terms ‘filed’ or ‘reported’ are very important. It’s because many such cases and stories go untold since they are never reported and justice is never served.
Acid-throwing in Pakistan is one of the most common crimes against women. One major reason behind these attacks is the ‘convenient’ availability of acid in the country. Anyone can easily buy this (literally) ‘lethal weapon’ from any general store and use it without any check and balance. One medium-sized bottle of acid costs less than a dollar so acid is not only readily available, it’s also affordable.
Just like in the cases of rape and various other crimes against women, there is no proper legislation to try acid attackers in the courts of Pakistan. And even if there was one, there would not be any implementation of it since the law and order system (if there is any) in this country is not really kind to victims, in fact, it is torturous for them.
Bushra Waiz was attacked because she refused to marry her attacker. This, again, brings yet another social issue plaguing the women of Pakistan. Bushra was attacked because she made a choice. Women in Pakistan, especially in rural and tribal areas, are not allowed to have a choice or opinion. They literally are not allowed to have a say even in the most important decisions of their own lives. Last year, 150 acid attacks were recorded in Pakistan, with 17 per cent of those linked to marriage proposals.
One more contributing factor to Bushra’s assault could be her profession. The victim belongs to a so-called conservative community of Pakistan where singing, acting and dancing is not considered to be an appropriate profession for women (or men). In fact, for some it is an abomination. And women who often go for these careers are considered to be even more worthless than the other women therefore they can be subjected to any sort of abuse. It is as if abusing and punishing such women is ‘allowed.’ And using acid for ‘punishment’ is like the easiest and the most effective way for cowards in Pakistan.
Last year, the plight of acid attack victims in Pakistan was brought to an international forum by filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy who made a 40-minuted documentary Saving Face on this issue and also won an Oscar for it.
While some of these reported cases make it to international media, troubles of the victims never end. Not only do they have to suffer physical pain, they also have to go through the torment of watching their attackers roam around freely since justice is seldom served. Furthermore, such victims are never fully accepted by the society which brings more torture for them.
Life for acid victims in the sub-continent is “made” worse than death. Made!