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Criminalising acid throwing not enough, says victim

ISLAMABAD: Rukhsana Yasir, acid burn victim and one of the lead characters in the Oscar winning documentary Saving Face, has called upon the government to do more than just criminalise acid throwing.

“I call upon the provincial assemblies legislators to also pass the Acid and Burn Crime Bill 2012,” said a slightly hesitant Rukhsana Yasir speaking on behalf of acid burn victims who sat by her side and the Acid Survivors Foundation (ASF) at a press conference on Saturday.

The press conference was called by ASF and other NGOs that have recently drafted Acid and Burn Crime Bill 2012 aimed at amending Acid Control and Acid Crime Prevention Law.

Like most acid burn victims who become reclusive, it took Rukhsana Yasir more than two years to build up the courage to uncover her face. The mother of three expressed the hope that all victims of acid burn would be heard.

ASF and Working Group on Acid and Burn Violence as well as other NGOs still believe that a lot more needed to be done to address the challenges of investigation into acid throwing, fair trial, free medical and rehabilitation services to the victim.

“Sending the criminal behind bars and slapping Rs1 million fines that too go to the government exchequer are not sufficient. The recent law has no remedies for acid victims as there is no rehabilitation mechanism in the law. Besides, the state should ensure that trials do not run for years and there should be proper investigation,” said Valerie Khan who has been running ASF.

Fauzia Saeed who is member National Commission on Status of Women believed if amended the law would eradicate acid violence.

“We placed the Acid and Burn Crime Bill 2012 before Advisor to the Prime Minister for Human Rights Mustafa Khokhar two months ago and will push the provinces now to table the bill,” Fauzia Saeed said explaining how a lot of effort had been made into making the bill and the ball was now in government`s court.

Fauzia Saeed also clarified that acid throwing was an extreme measure as a man splashed acid on the victim after subjecting her to continuous suppression and violence.

According to Valerie Khan, over 700 cases of acid throwing had been reported since 2006 and many did not come forward.

“Most cases come from Southern Punjab. But the crime is not unusual in other cities of the Pakistan,” who clarified that acid throwing was a global problem and not just limited to Pakistan.

The ASF that had six acid burn patients under its care revealed that it had received five cases of acid throwing in Faisalabad. The four girls and a boy were all under 20 years of age. And the youngest was a 15-year-old girl. Two cases of acid throwing on women were reported in Muzaffarabad.

Dawn

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