PAKISTAN: Acid attacks — five men and seven women attacked during the first four months of 2011 

Naghma Iqtidar

Acid throwing is a form of violence in which a perpetrator attacks his victim by throwing acid on his or her body. The attack may result in damaging the skin tissues, often exposing and sometimes dissolving the bones. Permanent scarring of the face and body, and blindness are also the consequences of these attacks. Death may also occur, but it is very rare in such cases as the rate of survival is very high amongst victims of acid attacks.

The reasons behind acid attacks are numerous. They may be honor, refusal of marriage proposals, property disputes, or long term enmity. The incidents show the terrible extent of the brutality and hatred for the victims as the main reason for the use of acid is not to kill them but rather to teach them a lesson, the consequences of which will remain with them for the remainder of their lives.

Various types of acid are available in the local market and can be purchased at very low cost. The most commonly used comes in the form of bathroom cleaner which can be used to clean toilets as well as destroy someone’s face and body.

During the first four months, five men and seven women were affected in ten different acid throwing cases across Pakistan; three occurred in January, five in February, a single case in March and in April too. All the cases were properly reported to the police and arrests were made. A very positive move was seen when the National Assembly of Pakistan passed a bill named as “Acid Control and Acid Crime Bill” on the recommendation of an 18-member Standing Committee on Women’s Development, Pakistan during the early days of May.

New Year was very unfortunate for Abdul Hameed, a resident of Toba Tek Singh, when his wife and his wife’s lover tortured him by throwing acid on his face and later murdered him with a sharp-edged weapon. The incident took place on 2nd of January. According to sources, Hameed’s wife Parveen, a mother of four children, had extramarital relations with Saeed Ahmed. Hameed would often exchange harsh words with her over the issue. The police have arrested both the accused and have registered a case against them on the complaint of deceased’s brother Abdul Sattar.

On January 17, a father of seven was brought to the hospital with severe acid burns that had been received a day before. He died shortly afterwards. Hanjarwal police said Abid Hussain of Sherakot had differences with his wife over some family issues. She left Hussain some six months ago and started living with her parents. Quoting the victim’s family, the police said Hussain visited his in-laws house for reconciliation where his brother-in-law Javed scuffled with him. Javed later threw acid on Hussain injuring him critically. The police shifted the body to the morgue for autopsy and registered a case against deceased’s brother-in-law.

On January 21st, a mother and her daughter were burnt after a neighbour threw acid on them. Mumtazabad Colony resident, 48-year-old Basheeran and her 21-year-old daughter Naila were going to a market near their house when their neighbour Naeem threw acid on them. Eyewitnesses said that the incident took place in broad daylight and that Naeem attacked the women in the middle of a crowded market. Naila and her mother were transferred to Nishtar Hospital Multan. Mumtazabad Police have lodged an FIR and arrested Naeem during a raid in the village. Basheeran’s neighbours said that Naeem had proposed to Naila two days ago but his proposal was rejected as the family had already agreed to another proposal.

A youth was injured when acid was thrown on him in the New Pind area on 4th of February. The victim, Kamran Gopang, was taken to Civil Hospital Sukkur where he was admitted. He was ransferred to Karachi due to his critical condition. This is the second incident of acid throwing believed to be linked to a dispute between two families. Earlier on 2nd February, Awais Abbasi and Shahid Abbasi, both brothers, became victims of a similar attack. They were admitted to a civil hospital from where Awais Abbasi was referred to Karachi due to his critical condition. According to doctors, the eyes, faces, necks and chests of three youths had been badly affected. Meanwhile, police are investigating the background of the two incidents.

On Valentine’s Day, when people were showing their love to their loved ones by sending gifts of chocolates, and flowers, a brother showed his love towards his sister by throwing acid on her face. The incident occurred in Thariri Chutto village near Waggan.

The reason was her refusal to give the hand of her daughter to her brother’s son. The SPO, Nasirabad, Khan Tunio confirmed the incident and said the accused, Manthar Shaikh, had been arrested. The victim, Sakina was admitted to Chandka Medical College Hospital as 40 per cent of her face had been burnt by acid. According to sources, a day before the incident the accused had gone to Sakina’s house seeking proposal of his son with her daughter which she refused. The next day the accused went to her house again but this time with acid which he threw on the face of his sister. The SPO said the victim’s family had not lodged an FIR and Waggan police were trying to locate the victim.

A depressed person stabbed his daughter to death and injured his wife over a domestic dispute in the limits of Shah Faisal Police Station in Karachi. The incident occurred in the early hours of February 15 at Hajrabad where Iftikhar Ahmed, after an exchange of hot words, tried to attack his wife, Mushtari Bibi with a knife, but she escaped. Unluckily, his daughter, who just got married, felt the wrath of her enraged father. She received deep wounds from the knife and died. Later, the accused tried to burn the body of his daughter, but his wife tried to stop him, upon which, he threw acid on her. Due to the hue and cry of the family, the area people rushed to the scene and shifted the injured woman to a local hospital and later sent her to the JPMC in critical condition.

Police said the accused had returned from the US and was a green card holder, adding that he had changed his statement several times and appeared to be psychotic.

According to THE investigation officer, the accused came to Pakistan to attend his daughters’ marriages and now wanted to go back to the US, but his in-laws had hidden his passport, which upset him greatly. The police said the area people had detained the accused and later handed him over to the police while the body of the victim was sent to JPMC for medico-legal formalities.

On 18th February, police discovered body of a woman packed in a gunny bag from Trans Lyari Park in the remits of Pak Colony Police Station. The identity of the victim could not be ascertained. Sub Inspector Nasir Abbas, also an inquiry officer, said the victim had several torture marks as unidentified men had also thrown acid on her body while her hands and legs were tied with ropes. Abbas said they shifted the body to the ASH for postmortem where the lady Medico Legal Officer (MLO) reserved the report. Furthermore, Abbas said that culprits might have raped her but actual motive of murder will be clear after getting the medical report.

A woman was injured critically when her husband threw acid on her on March 24. Shamshad’s first husband Nawab Din was murdered by his opponents over a property dispute sometime ago. Later, she was forced to marry Din’s younger brother Muhammad Ishaq. But after the marriage, she developed differences with Ishaq and went to her parents. Two days before the incident, Ishaq went to his in-laws, reconciled’ with his wife and took her to his house. But on Friday night, Ishaq tortured Shamshad and later threw acid on her. She was unconscious and is now being treated at the Kamalia Tehsil Headquarters Hospital.

Wahid Bukhsh had a quarrel with his brother over property dispute. According to neighbours, his mother supported his brother in the dispute; but also often tried to mediate between both brothers on the issue. But on April 23, after a heated exchange between them, Wahid threw acid on his nephew; when his mother came to try and stop him, he threw acid on her also. The injured were shifted to Nishtar Hospital and both are in critical condition. Doctors at Nishtar Hospital said that both victims had suffered third degree burns to over 60 per cent of their bodies.

In order to stop such crimes, Pakistani lawmakers have adopted tougher penalties for acid attacks in a step towards eradicating a form of violence that can disfigure around 200 women a year. The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2011, originally called the Acid Control and Acid Crime Bill, 2010, was introduced on the last private members’ day on May 26, 2010 before the house was adjourned for a nine-day recess four days later, was passed without debate as recommended by an 18-member Standing Committee on Women’s Development. However, several female lawmakers across party lines later praised the draft, which now needs adoption by the Senate to become law.

The bill, piloted by PML-Q’s Marvi Memon, though originally sponsored by some other members, seeks amendments in the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), proposing a maximum of life imprisonment and a minimum of 14 years’ imprisonment and Rs1 million ($11,750) in fine for causing “hurt by corrosive substance”.

“Whoever with the intention or knowingly causes or attempts to cause hurt by means of a corrosive substance or any substance which is deleterious to human body when it is swallowed, inhaled, (has) come in contact or (is) received into human body or otherwise shall be said to cause hurt by corrosive substance,” says a new section 336A inserted in the PPC.

Another section 336B says: “Whoever causes hurt by corrosive substance shall be punished with imprisonment for life or imprisonment of either description which shall not be less than fourteen years and a minimum five of one million rupees.”

The bill also tightens the definition of disfigurement and recommends provincial assemblies crack down on the buying and selling of acid. Other than that, under the Qisas law of Pakistan, the perpetrator may suffer the same fate as the victim, and may be punished by having drops of acid placed in his eyes. But, this law is not binding and is rarely enforced. Moreover, the Acid Survivors Foundation (ASF-P) and Acid Survivors Trust International (ASTI) are operating in Pakistan. ASF-P is offering medical, psychological and rehabilitation support for victims of acid throwing while ASTI is providing specialist support through its specialist team who work across the organizations transferring medical, psychological and social rehabilitation skills whilst supporting knowledge sharing and best practice.

About the author:
Naghma Iqtidar can be contacted at

Document Type : Article
Document ID : AHRC-ART-031-2011
Countries : Pakistan,
Issues : Violence against women,