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Maria Shah’s condition still unstable’

Karachi- The condition of 24-year-old Maria Shah, an acid burn victim undergoing treatment at the Burns Ward of the Civil Hospital Karachi (CHK) is precarious despite the best efforts of doctors.

“Shah walked today, a TV channel interviewed her but I would say her condition is not stable.

She was admitted with 38 per cent burns,” Burns Ward Executive Director Dabir-ur-Rahman told The News on Friday.

“The Burns Ward Karachi recorded 16 cases of acid burning amongst females in 2007-2008 while 25 cases of acid burning in men were also admitted at the facility during the same period,” Rahman said.

Data collected by Aurat Foundation shows there was one case of acid throwing in Sindh in 2008 in the first quarter (January-March), one case in second quarter (April-June), and one case in fourth quarter (Oct-December). Violence against women is on an ascending order in Sindh as elsewhere in Pakistan. This could be gauged from the fact that there were 112 cases of domestic violence, 62 cases of gang-rape, 47 cases of sexual assault and 284 cases of so-called honour killing in Sindh province alone during 2008, according to Aurat Foundation.

“We have sent as many as 300 women in the assemblies but they are not even aware what is going on in their own locality,” Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) Karachi General Secretary Dr Samrina Hashmi said bitterly. “Until and unless social inequality is not removed and women do not become independent economically, ugly incidents of acid burning and domestic violence will continue.”

“Primary and secondary education should be ensured to all women, baby-care centres should be established for working women and economic equality between women and men should be guaranteed failing which we will continue to witness horrendous incidents like that of Shah,” she said.

Shah, an acid burn victim, a symbol of extreme callousness, hails from Shikarpur, Sindh and was brought to the Burns Ward in a precarious condition.

Thanks to the electronic and print media her case drew attention of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani who not only announced financial assistance to the girl but also directed Federal Information Minister Sherry Rehman to visit her personally. Gilani issued orders that the culprit should immediately be apprehended and brought to the court of justice.

A First Information Report (FIR) was lodged but since the culprit was in hiding, his brother and father were detained.

As a result of the hue and cry in the media, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar took suo motu notice of the incident and directed the Sukkur Regional Police Officer (RPO) to investigate the case. Shah became the victim of the heinous crime while she was working in a clinic when the accused approached her and threw acid at her because she had refused to marry him.

Although the Minister of State for Interior, Tasneem Ahmed Qureshi has been reported to have claimed that acid burn cases in Pakistan have declined, it seems to be far from true. Innocent women are becoming victims of acid burning across Pakistan essentially due to the rising trend of malignant aggression and a police system riddled with inefficiencies and indifference.
Source: The news
Date:1/24/2009

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