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Acid attack-the pain that never heals

LAYYAH, April 3: The enhancement in the term of an acid burn convict from 14- year imprisonment to 32 years might have brought smiles on the burnt lips of victim Zareena but she says it will not lessen her miseries she has been suffering for the last five years.

The Layyah additional district and sessions judge had on March 29, 2007, enhanced the jail term of convict Nazar for throwing acid on Zareena when she refused to establish illicit relation with him.

“I am very happy over the decision of the sessions court but it can’t lessen my miseries and the darkness prevailed in my life,” victim Zareena told Dawn after the verdict.

Narrating her ordeal, she said she had become a victim of her good looks.

Zareena’s mother died when she was only three. Her father Abdul Rasheed arranged her marriage with Ramzan in 2001 in a match-for-match marriage or watta satta when she was only 15 years old and studying in class seven in a school of Kot Sultan.

She settled in her husband’s house in Bait Wasawa Shumali and gave birth to daughter Zunaira. In that village, her neighbour Nazar Hussain pestered her to establish illicit relations with her. She said the convict used to send her messages through her younger brother Nadeem and sister-in-law Nasreen to lure her. One day Nazar stopped her near a field and asked her to sleep with him at any cost. His daring act enraged Zareena and she reprimanded him publicly and also complained to Nazar’s father Haji Allah Bakhsh about the incident. His father assured her that such things would not happen again.

To avenge his humiliation, Nazar broke into the house of Zareena on July 6, 2002, where Zareena was asleep with her daughter Zunaira in the courtyard of her house. Nazar threw acid on Zareena and fled from the scene. Her face, eyes, arms and legs were burnt and her minor daughter Zunaira also sustained burnt injuries. She was shifted to the burn unit of Mayo Hospital in Lahore where she was treated for six months.

The Layyah senior civil judge held trial of Nazar and sentenced him to 14-year rigorous imprisonment and a Rs405,000 compensation for the victim on Sept 26, 2003.

The accused filed an appeal in the additional sessions court for the revision of his sentence. Human rights activist Nuzhat Yasmeen pleaded Zareena’s case. The court enhanced the imprisonment of the accused from 14 years to 32 years imprisonment.

Zareena said when she recovered from her injuries, she could not even drink water without a straw pipe and could not eat food in sitting position as her lips had been damaged. She had to lie in bed to consume food. A Lahore-based non-government organisation took her to Islamabad Women’s Crisis Centre and arranged her meeting with Tourism Minister Nilofar Bukhtiar. The minister helped Zareena to get financial aid worth Rs500,000 from the federal government, which she spent on cosmetic surgery of her face at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences. After the surgery, she can drink water without straw pipe and take food in sitting position.

Zareena has lost her both eyes in the acid attack. She says her eyelids were sewed in the Mayo Hospital and she can feel light with her left eye when an electric bulb is lit or she comes out in the day light. Zareena says her left eye is repairable from the Shifa International Hospital in Islamabad. But costly treatment and her poverty may not let her overcome the darkness she was plunged in for going for piety.

Source: Dawn

Date:4/4/2007

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