Acid and burn victims: Sensitised questioning and permission beforehand hallmark of ethical reporting

Journalists get trained on how to better report on acid, burn crimes.

Mavra Bari July 23, 2012


For ethical reporting, journalists must make sure that the acid and burn crime victims they are interviewing are willing to be interviewed and/or photographed and are comfortable with the questions being asked.

This was said by Action Research Institute Executive Director Zaigham Khan, who was leading a training workshop for journalists on effective reporting on acid and burn violence in Pakistan. The other trainer at the Saturday’s workshop was ASF President Valerie Khan. The training was organised by the Acid Survivors Foundation (ASF), a non-governmental organisation.

In addition to being briefed on ethical behaviour while dealing with acid and burn victims, journalists also had the opportunity to interact with three acid burn victims, Safia, Shagufta and Sidra.

The young women shared their horrific experience of acid violence as well as how ASF helped them regain a semblance of their normal life.

Safia from Multan was only six months old when some people involved in a land dispute with her father broke in to her house and threw acid on her and her mother as they slept.

Safia says she has been getting aid from ASF since she was eight-years-old in the form of support and medical operations.

“I have gone through three operations so far, two on my eyes and one on my nose,” she said.

Thirty-year-old Shagufta from Muzaffargarh — a district with a high incidence of acid violence — was burnt by her husband three years ago.

In a bid to kill her and remarry, he threw burning oil on her, leaving her with burns on her body and part of her face.

She has been under the care of ASF since then. However, the numerous painful operations she has had to undergo are taking a toll on her. “I feel like the operations will never end,” she said.

Participants were given copies of the Acid and Burn Crime Bill 2012 so that they can better understand the crime.

They were also asked to join the Working Group Against Acid and Burn Violence (WGABV), a civil society group committed to the eradication of burn violence, defending its victims and generating awareness.

Earlier, Valerie Khan noted that the media’s role is central to raise awareness about the prevalence of acid and other burn crimes, as well as sensitising the public and government to it.

“We try to cooperate with the media as much as we can,” she said.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2012.