An article in The News to celebrate Naila’s courage:
|Acid attack victim seeks justice from SC|
|Thursday, November 12, 2009
An acid attack in 2003 that completely disfigured 19-year-old Naila Farhat’s face has failed to take away her spirit to live as she bids to seek justice with the first hearing in the Supreme Court due to take place on November 13.
According to her, her teacher’s friend Irshad Hussain attacked her with acid on way back from school in 2003 when she was only 13. The family was punished for refusing the proposal from Irshad, a tailor by profession. Naila’s teacher and Irshad’s friend Muzhar Hussain grabbed her while Irshad sprayed acid on her to make her life permanently miserable. They might not have thought that the little girl would live and appeal to the Supreme Court against the decision of the High Court that recommended releasing the culprit if he pays the compensation money. “My family and I are determined to knock every possible door until we get justice,” said the lively Naila, who is from Layyah.
Naila will be the first acid attack survivor to take her case to the Supreme Court level. In majority of such cases, culprits manage to get away without being punished, as acid attacks are frequent in rural areas where legal system usually favours the mighty and the powerful.
Naila was a bright student and used to top in every class. She now cannot see with her left eye and the attack has also severely affected her other eye. “My mother wanted me to become a doctor,” she said adding that the support of her mother and father kept her going through out the chaotic six years. “I am lucky in the sense that my relatives and family friends gave all out support to me and encouraged me to approach the court despite pressure from the other party to withdraw my case,” said Naila while sitting behind a sewing machine.
Despite passing through immense physical and psychological sufferings, she has not stopped studying. She is a student of Allama Iqbal Open University and is also learning stitching and ‘paranda’ making from another acid burn survivor.
Legal Coordinator for Acid Survivors Foundation Sana Masood told ‘The News’ that Irshad was given 12-year imprisonment and 1.2 million fine by the sessions court. “But when the culprit appealed in the High Court, the court ordered his release if he agreed to pay the fine,” she added.
Highlighting issues related to Naila’s case, Sana said that presently there was no such law that could provide right justice to an acid attack survivor. “There is a provision of life imprisonment for perpetrators of such crimes in Domestic Violence Bill, but that has not been passed yet,” she pointed out.
Citing an example of Bangladesh, she said that Acid Crime Prevention Act was passed in Bangladesh in 2002 that stipulates the death sentence as a maximum penalty for an assault. “And to control the easy availability of commercially used acid, including Sulphuric acid, the Acid Control Act has been enacted in Bangladesh, which mandates licenses for sale and purchase of acids, with offenders facing a maximum of 15-year punishment as well as fines.” However no such Act has been passed in Pakistan.
“The issue of acid violence is addressed under the Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Act 2009, but it does not give death penalty to the perpetrator therefore what Naila can ask for is maximum penalty under the existing law as the court deems fit,” said Sana. Whatever be the punishment, no one can bring back the happy days of Naila’s life when she was just a bubbly student of class eight. All we can do is wish her good luck for her first hearing in the Supreme Court.