SARGODHA: A ‘spiritual healer’, accused of sexually assaulting and throwing acid on a maid, was taken into police custody on Wednesday.
Reportedly, 21-year-old M* was a resident of Gujrat and had been working as a domestic helper at the ‘spiritual healer’s’ house for nine years.
However, about two years ago in 2017, her employer allegedly sought help from his disciple and threw acid on his female domestic worker after assaulting her. The incident left her face scarred and resulted in the loss of her eyesight, while also affecting hearing abilities.
Authorities took the suspect, identified as Aziz, into custody after he was accused of the crime. However, the suspect maintained that the maid had harmed herself with acid after he refused to marry her.
On the other hand, the victim’s family have demanded that the accused be awarded exemplary punishment. On the orders of the Punjab chief minister, his spokesperson Dr Shahbaz Gill visited the victim. He revealed that the victim had been employed as a domestic worker at the accused’s house.
“She was not permitted to meet her parents for the past two years,” he revealed. The accused managed to sweep the incident under the carpet by exerting his influence. The acid attack has scarred the entirety of her head, he added.
He maintained that action will be taken against the police station concerned for not registering the case on a timely basis and for not cooperating with the victim’s family. He said that the Punjab government will make every possible effort for the victim’s treatment.
During 2018, at least 16 incidents of acid attacks and cases of the burning of women were reported in Faisalabad. In most cases, women were either attacked with acid or set ablaze over honour. In total, six of the victims lost their lives. However, the irony is that cases of six out of 16 such brutal incidents were dropped due to an agreement between the two parties and owing to the flexibility in law.
Social activists and experts said that acid attacks and setting women on fire are one of the worst forms of gender-based violence in Pakistan. They added these heinous acts are usually instigated by family disputes, refusal of a marriage proposal and family ‘honour’ issues. Perpetrators usually intend to disfigure rather than kill their victims, resulting in lifelong bodily disfigurement. Their aim is to inflict severe emotional and psychological trauma, they maintained.
*Name withheld to protect identity
Published in The Express Tribune, May 23rd, 2019.
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