THE posturing by political forces as Fakhra Younis’s body reached Karachi on Sunday belittles the monumental courage displayed by the woman herself. Her ordeal began when she married former MPA Bilal Khar in 1998, only to learn that he was already thrice-married. After she finally gathered the courage to leave her husband, on March 14, 2000, she was attacked with acid, allegedly by her husband. She was left with horrifying injuries but somehow found the courage to claw her way back to life. Yet there was to be no justice for her. Mr Khar was held briefly, tried and acquitted in 2003. Ms Younis, given asylum by the Italian government, was left to carry on as best as she could. On March 17, she finally lost hope, reportedly leaving behind a note expressing her grief over the lack of justice meted out to her by Pakistan’s legal system.
When Ms Younis was attacked, acid crime was treated by the law as an assault. Now, it has specifically been criminalised through the Criminal Law Amendment Bill 2011. Yet controlling such crime will involve far more. First, we need to see more prosecutions in such cases, which continue to be reported across the country. Then it has been suggested that the sale and purchase of acid should be covered by stringent restrictions; certainly, more regulation of the substance is required. Yet the fact is that where the will to maim and disfigure exists, some method can always be found. What needs altering is Pakistani’s society’s vengeful patriarchal mindset, where women are viewed as commodities and criminal attacks against them are considered justified when men’s ‘honour’ is challenged. The best this country can do for Ms Younis now is to ensure that more women do not suffer as she did.