Acid Survivors Trust International
Rebuilding Lives ▪ Stopping Acid Violence
HRH The Princess Royal marks London-based charity’s five year partnership with foundation in Pakistan
London based international charity Acid Survivors Trust International (ASTI) joined its partner organisation Acid Survivors Foundation Pakistan (ASF-P) at a celebratory event in the city this month.
Acid violence is the deliberate use of acid to attack another human. Survivors are often young women and children and are usually severely disfigured for life.
ASTI helped to set up the ASF-P to help survivors of acid violence in Pakistan. Now five years on, the charities marked their achievements at a celebration that took place on 15 March, hosted by the High Commissioner for Pakistan. Speakers at the event, which also aimed to raise much needed funds, include ASTI’s patron, HRH The Princess Royal, ASF-P’s chairwoman, Valerie Khan Yusufzai, and ASTI chairman Dr. John Morrison OBE.
The partnership has helped acid survivors in Pakistan lead independent and fulfilling lives by providing a holistic programme of support including medical treatment, vocational training, legal aid and advocacy. Volunteer surgeons, burns specialists, counsellors and other professionals from Britain work alongside local professionals. In addition, ASF-P has worked with the Government of Pakistan, the UN Fund to end violence against women and the UN Development Programme/UNOPS-GJP, to raise awareness of acid violence and prevent further attacks.
At the celebration event this month a short film will be shown telling the story of Bushra, a young woman from Lodhran in Punjab who suffered two brutal acid attacks in 2003 when she was only 13 years old. She was attacked by a young man who lived in her neighbourhood and frequently harassed her about marriage. Bushra’s right eye was badly damaged and the right side of her face was completely burnt in the attacks.
Unfortunately, Bushra’s case is not uncommon – victims are frequently women or young girls and attackers often target the head and face in order to maim, disfigure and blind. Attacks often go unreported, and in many cases little action is taken to help the survivor or prosecute the attacker. These attacks rarely kill but cause severe physical, psychological and social scarring, and victims are often left with no legal recourse, limited access to medical or psychological assistance, and without the means to support themselves. Acid violence is an international problem not restricted to a specific country or religion, and ASTI is the only organisation focused on eliminating acid attacks worldwide.
As well as the ASF-P, ASTI has also set foundations up in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Nepal, Pakistan and Uganda. ASTI supports the foundations by providing them with ongoing support and campaigning to raise awareness of acid violence at the international level. HRH Princess Anne recently visited ASF Bangladesh and the England Cricket Team paid a visit to ASF-B earlier this year.
The celebration event was hosted by His Excellency, Wajid Shamsul Hasan, High Commissioner for Pakistan. The audience included representatives from Pakistani humanitarian organisations and the British Pakistani community, major international NGOs, charitable foundations and social advocacy groups. With their support, ASTI hopes to raise awareness of acid violence and raise funds to provide acid survivors with the support they need to rebuild their lives.
The full details of the attacks and the treatment Bushra received through ASF-P is available on ASTI’s website at http://www.acidviolence.org/index.php/survivors/stories/bushra/pakistan
For more information, images and to arrange interviews with John Morrison or Valerie Khan Yusufzai please call 02078211567.