Posts Tagged ‘ASF’

Samira Shackle from Newstatesman

April 15th, 2014

Acid attacks: a horrific crime on the increase worldwide

Around 1,500 cases are recorded every year but the real figure is probably far higher.


Victims of spite: acid attack survivors at an anti-violence rally in Dhaka. (Photo: Rex Features)
Victims of spite: acid attack survivors at an anti-violence rally in Dhaka. (Photo: Rex Features)

Naomi Oni had left work and was on her way home to Dagenham, east London, when acid was thrown in her face. The attack took place in 2012 when she was just 20 years old. Oni is still undergoing painful skin grafts to rebuild her face.

In an emotional interview on Radio 4’s Today programme on 24 March, Oni, now 22, spoke of her isolation. “I didn’t choose this,” she said. “I’m only human.” She labelled the Metropolitan Police as incompetent: they initially suggested she had thrown acid on herself. They later charged Mary Konye, a former friend of Oni’s, with the attack; she was found guilty in January and jailed for 12 years.

Acid violence has been in the headlines after several high-profile cases. Last August, Kirstie Trup and Katie Gee, two British 18-year-olds, suffered a random attack in Zanzibar. The previous January, the Bolshoi Ballet’s artistic director Sergei Filin was assaulted by one of its principal dancers.

Worldwide, about 1,500 cases of acid violence are recorded every year, according to Acid Survivors Trust, but the real figure is probably far higher. And the sheer brutality of acid attacks – which take seconds to carry out but can cause permanent disability, as well as excruciating pain and disfigurement – makes them unusual and noteworthy.

It has been suggested that attacks are increasing in the UK but a lack of reliable statistics makes this difficult to verify. NHS statistics recorded 105 hospital admissions for “assault by corrosive substance” in 2011-2012, but this category covers not only acid. That contrasts with 44 admissions in 2006-2007. There is no ethnic or geographic evidence to back this up, but some reports suggest that honour crimes in south Asian, south-east Asian and East African communities are responsible for the increase.

Certainly attacks are prevalent in south Asia, but they also happen in Cambodia, Vietnam, Colombia, Peru and elsewhere, including the UK and the US. It is a kind of violence that transcends cultural and religious borders, but is most common in places where acid is readily available. In south Asia, where regulation is poor and acid is used in the cotton industry, a bottle of the stuff can be bought for 20p.

The crime has a long history in Britain. In the 1740s, when sulphuric acid was widely available, acid-throwing happened often. In the 1830s, one Glasgow periodical wrote that acid violence had “become so common . . . as to become almost a stain on the national character”.

Acid attacks are often a form of gender-based violence and, as such, they occur most commonly in countries where women are disenfranchised. Last year I visited the Acid Survivors Foundation (ASF) in Islamabad, the only centre in Pakistan dedicated to the rehabilitation and treatment of victims. The most striking thing about the stories of the women I met was the triviality of the causes: men taking revenge for rejected marriage proposals or husbands who got bored by their wives. It brought to mind the case of the former model Katie Piper, the UK’s most high-profile acid survivor, whose attack was orchestrated by an ex-boyfriend in 2008.

There are no hard and fast rules of this crime: men can be the victims of acid attack and women can be the perpetrators. Yet the attacks are always about exerting control and erasing identity. Mohammad Jawad, a plastic surgeon who operated on Piper and who appeared in Saving Face, the Oscar-winning documentary about acid attacks in Pakistan, described it thus: “The attacker is saying: ‘I don’t want to kill her – I am going to do something to distort her.’ It’s a walking dead situation for the victim.”

When the Today presenter Mishal Husain asked Oni why Konye had attacked her, she started to sob. “She is an evil person . . . No one in this world should throw acid on someone because they had an argument.”

It is a natural impulse to search for the reasons for such abuse, but can there ever be a justification? To most people it would be unimaginable to lose one’s face. As Oni said during her interview, explaining oneself and being disbelieved is a second abuse.

The situation for survivors of acid violence varies globally, but to differing extents all survivors feel socially ostracised. Few cultures are kind to disfigurement.

“Acid attack doesn’t mean the end of your life,” Valerie Khan, the director of ASF Islamabad, told me: “provided you receive those rehabilitation services to psychologically and physically repair you, mentally rebuild your self-confidence, and empower you economically – despite the new you, which is not necessarily an easy one to be accepted with.”

Acid violence is an extreme expression of control. Society can help to wrest some of that back for survivors by believing them, supporting them, providing medical treatment, and, crucially, redressing the balance with justice.

Engaging youth…

March 1st, 2014

Ways to prevent acid crime discussed

Published: March 1, 2014

Participants discuss govt’s role, laws.PHOTO: FILE

LAHORE: Students from over 20 schools and universities of Lahore on Friday discussed the state of acid crime in Pakistan and what the government had been able to do to curb it.

The event was organised by Beaconhouse Law Society at its Defence campus.

The topic for discussion was:  Acid violence- the failings of the Pakistani legal system in tackling the problem. What are the possible legal solutions and their effectiveness with regard to counteraction, regulation and rehabilitation ?

Thinking out loud

The purpose of the exercise was to inculcate reasoning and critical thinking among students and creating awareness about the legal system.

Fatima Kausar, an A-levels student, said acid was a “pernicious weapon” and its sale should be strictly regulated. She stressed the need for buyers to be registered with the government and required to disclose the purpose of every purchase. She said there was also a need for safety procedures to prevent theft.

“There is evidence that acid attacks occur more frequently in areas where acid is widely used for commercial purposes. Businesses that use acid can help prevent its abuse.”

Mahnoor Ahmed, a student of National Grammar School, said a zero tolerance policy should be adopted in such cases. Those found aiding such crime must be considered equally guilty, she said.

Learning through discussion

The speeches were followed by an interaction between a panel of experts on the topic.

Valarie Khan, a French human rights activist and Acid Survivors Foundation chairperson, said acid crime was a global phenomenon.

She said acid violence was the worst form of gender-based violence in Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan.

Ayesha Tasleem, legal head at Depilex Smile Again Foundation, said an important aspect of the issue was gender equity that had been neglected in education imparted to men and women. Education with a mindset change is imperative to curb this crime, she added.

Lawyer Saad Rasul said there was a large gap between the current legal framework and an ideal system. He said while there were laws to register acid violence as an offence, safeguards and measures to prevent and prosecute after were absent.

Gulraiz Zulfikar, a fellow at the American Joint Cancer Committee, said several acid burns were treatable at acid burn centres functioning under non government organisations, government and the army. “Survivors do not seek sympathy, but they need restoration of self-esteem,” he said.

The panellists said that a strong retributive punishment was not the solution to the problem. They advocated life sentences for convicts.

Law Society president Ayza Ishaq, who moderated the discussion session, said that law students needed to be part of something “bigger than themselves”.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 1st, 2014.

Distribution Of Books To Teach Children How To Protect Themselves From CSA/CSEC/BURNS And How To Respond To BURNS…

January 26th, 2014

This is an ASF Pakistan project in collaboration with SAHIL and Zcech Republic, Sweet Home Pakistan and SPARC, that we have already presented to you: you have had glimpses of the distribution in various schools…But one important question must be answered: how do children react to it? How are those books presented to them?

Have a look!!!!

First children are given the book so that hey can OWN it

Then , Ms Shazia, ASF NCRU coordinator conducts child friendly interactive training sessions on he books content.

Then children discover

And they explore very thoroughy, focused

News From ASF Chairperson, Mrs Valerie Khan, In “Portraits De Femmes”, A Project By Mrs Helene Conway-Mouret, French Minister For French Overseas.

January 23rd, 2014

Check it out and you will understand better …

Celebrating Human Rights Day, 10th December 2013 at French Embassy in Islamabad, in collaboration with EU. Major Human Rights Activists present along with various ambassadors of European countries. Valerie Khan being honoured via the “Portraits de Femmes” award, an initiative launched by The Minister for French Overseas, Mrs Helene Conway Mouret.

January 16th, 2014

Humanrights activists and French Authorities representatives, from left to right: Dr Rukhshinda Parveen (ED Sachet), her excellency Mrs Thiebaut, His excellency Mr Philippe Thiebaut French ambassador to Pakistan, Mrs Valerie Khan (ASF Chairperson), Ms Tahira Abdullah (human rights activist and HRCP member).

Collaborating with AUS Aid to enhance law implementation: Mr Mazhar Akram training lawyers on criminal law Amendment act (ACT XXV) , then lawyers giving their feed back. This is how training keep on improving…

January 16th, 2014

Ms Shazia, ASF NCRU coordinator introducing the session to lawyers in ICT

Delivering the training

Regional Glance…

January 16th, 2014
India lags behind Bangladesh and Pakistan on acid attack laws
Dec 6, 2013 07:31 PM , By Anita joshua
Bangladesh was one of the first countries to legislate on acid attacks with the enactment of the Acid Control Act in 2002. File Photo: B. Jothi Ramalingam

Bangladesh was one of the first countries to legislate on acid attacks with the enactment of the Acid Control Act in 2002. File Photo: B. Jothi Ramalingam

The Supreme Court directive earlier this week to all States and Union Territories to put in place draft rules to regulate the sale of acid by this fiscal-end has once again brought to light India’s sluggishness in addressing acid crime.

In fact, India has long lagged behind first Bangladesh and then Pakistan in specifically criminalising acid attacks. It was only earlier this year that the Centre — on Supreme Court’s prodding — amended the criminal law to punish perpetrators of acid attacks with 10-year imprisonment.

This contrasts sharply with neighbouring Bangladesh and somewhat even with Pakistan. Bangladesh has had an acid law for over a decade now and is often flagged as exemplary in this regard. In fact, it was one of the first countries to legislate on acid attacks with the enactment of the Acid Control Act in 2002. Under the Act, the unlicensed production, import, transport, storage, sale and use of acid was made punishable with a prison sentence of three to 10 years.

In the sub-continent, Pakistan came a distant second in putting in place the legal instruments to specifically deal with acid attacks. The penal code and the criminal procedure code were amended in 2011 to provide maximum of life imprisonment for perpetrators of acid attacks. But, as is the case in India, Pakistani provinces are yet to legislate to regulate the sale of acid and other corrosive substances.

New Documentary, New Adventure…Come And Check!

November 18th, 2013

Please click on this link, you will be amazed…

ASF starting the books distribution in Lodran, Southern Punjab, in collaboration with Zcech Republic.

October 24th, 2013

Mr Jaroslav Reif (Zcech Embassy), ASF ED and ASF Chairperson inaugurating the event.

Students' work on acid violence: moving exhibition

ASF Chairperson with teachers

Starting the distribution

Child Burn Prevention: Raising Awareness At An Early Age To Empower Children And Increase Safety.

October 24th, 2013

Here is Haag Sahib (Mr Burns), the bad and dangerous character

Rescue Bibi is the little water droplet that is quite helpful and that will help our heroes....

Our little heroes: fighting burns!!!!

An example of the book content