Acid throwing becoming a common practice in RYK

Published: January 31, 2011

Over 800 cases were reported in the district in 2010.

RAHIM YAR KHAN: In 2010, a record number of acid throwing cases were reported from Rahim Yar Khan and residents of the district have said that the practice has increased dramatically over the years.

In 2010, more than 800 acid burning cases took place in Rahim Yar Khan and so far in January 2011 13 cases have already been reported from the district. “It has become an exceedingly common practice and it usually involves the women’s spouses,” said an NGO worker Kashmala, adding that she had personally helped arrange for free plastic surgery for several victims. “Even though the surgery may help with the appearances and the scars the trauma never really goes away. These women are disfigured simply because they disagree with their husbands,” she said .

In Sheikh Zayed hospital’s burn unit 500 women, men and children with acid burns, fire burns and stove burns were admitted last year. Of these patients 70 were women, 19 were men and seven were children. “Treating burn victims is one of the hardest jobs because their injuries are so prominent and they need constant attention,” said hospital nurse Shazia, adding “most of the women I look after here are terrified their spouses or relatives will return to do it again.”

Hospital sources said that they lacked modern facilities in the burn units. Currently two rooms have been reserved for both men and women and the rooms often house over 60 patients. “There are only seven beds and over 40 patients,” said Dr Muhammad Anwar Chaudhry.

Burn unit patients from Rahim Yar Khan’s districts Rajanpur, Kashmore, Ghotki, Dera Ghazi Khan, Bahawalpur, Sukkur, Kundh Kot said that they often sought refuge at the hospital and tried to stay for as long as they could. “We try to stay here because there is nowhere else to go after we are discharged,” said Sakina, who was burned by her husband after she objected to his second marriage. “If I leave here I cannot return to him or my parents and I have my two children with me,” she said.

Several welfare organizations have demanded that the hospital be expanded to provide more facilities for the patients. “We are trying to arrange funds for a half way house, where burn victims who need it can recuperate and stay on if they cannot return home,” said NGO worker Khalid Shehzad.

The provincial government and Health Department have not been able to release funds for this purpose. According to details, the number of patients is increasing day by day but there aren’t enough facilities.

Sheikh Zayed Hospital’s medical superintendent Capt (retd) Mushtaq Ahmed and burn unit plastic surgeon Dr Muhammad Anwar Chaudhry said that in spite of insufficient funding and problems they were trying to provide the best services possible for the burn victims. “The largest number of cases involved the woman’s husband or in-laws on charges of adultery,” said Rahim Yar Khan SHO Shaukat Haroon, adding “Sometimes there are cases of women being attacked on the streets because they were not covering their heads. It has gotten much worse.”

“I have been working as nurse in the hospital for two years after I got burned,” said nurse Saliha, adding “I asked to work with burn victims because I could not afford surgery for my own scars.” “I feel as if I am supporting them just because we have both been through the same thing and they can see that I survived it,” Saliha said.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 31st, 2011.

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Reader Comments (4)

  • sara
    Jan 31, 2011 - 4:26PM

    No fear of Allah has remained in their hearts, short tempered, illetracy and away from their religion whether muslims, christians, hindus or other communities. These are the main and common problems of our society and our injustice law makes it more obvious.Recommend

  • Karim Khan
    Jan 31, 2011 - 8:26PM

    Absolutely shocking! Is there something called law in this area? Where is the judiciary? Thanks to the writer for bringing this problem up! Recommend

  • AM
    Feb 1, 2011 - 5:59AM

    And when I think we as a nation can go no lower, here comes yet another instance that suggests there is still room to go lower! If there was ever a justification to shoot first and ask questions later then this is it! These poor women! What gives these men this right?

    I left Pakistan in 1973 as a 16 year old and there was never this stuff going on then or at least not 800 cases from one area in one year. Have we regressed this badly this fast?

    May God bless Pakistan because I (now) feel NO one else can.Recommend

  • Feb 7, 2011 - 4:15AM

    Acid attack survivors like nurse Saliha who speak out against these crimes have a powerful voice -they bring about justice for other survivors and raise awareness to ultimately end the violence.

    Another strong voice against acid violence is Tat Marina’s in the documentary Finding Face. When Marina was sixteen, she was romantically involved with Cambodia’s Undersecretary of State Svay Sitha, who locked her up without clothes and threatened to harm her family if she left him. His wife learned of the affair, stalked Marina, and threw acid on her face. This attack is one of the better known cases of this violence in Cambodia, and because the perpetrator was never punished, many human rights workers believe that it led to increased acid attacks in the country. The year after Marina’s attack occurred, the number of reported acid attacks jumped from 7 to 40.

    To learn more about the film, visit http://www.findingface.org.

    For film updates and reporting about worldwide acid violence, follow @FindingFace on Twitter. Recommend

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