PAKISTANI WOMEN:LIFE BETWEEN FEAR AND TORTURE
ACID CHANGES WOMAN’S BEAUTY FOREVER
Pakistan….land of sleepy unpredictable high mountains, lovely Mohatta palace in Karachi, ancient Anarkali Bazaar in Lahore, Faisal Masjid monument shaped like a desert Bedouin’s tent and symbol of Islamabad and many breathtaking gardens, towers and corners where history is screaming. This is a land of people who don’t have so much money but they find peace and happiness. Many Women in Pakistan are beautiful, like all of them were borrowed from old oriental fairy tales. But, some of them are not anymore beautiful.Their beauty was destroyed by evil husbands, who picked the rose and then smashed it instead of keeping it safe in garden of love.Acid attack. The shameful side of Pakistan. The worst problem there and the topic which is not so discussed about.Victims are silent. Potential victims are afraid. The Pakistani community believes that everything comes from Allah, even acid. Unfortunately, silence kills more than any acid.
Acid throwing, acid attack or vitriolage is a form of very serious and violent assault. It is considered as an activity of throwing very dangerous acid (sulfuric or nitric acid) or any other corrosive chemical substance onto the body and mainly onto the face of target, with the purpose to demolish that person’s look, to harm it and kill at, at the end. The attacked person, if somehow survives, confronts with the total physical damage, exposed bones and blindness as well as with permanent scarring of the face and treated parts of the body. Behind those physical demolitions, there are mental problems and adjustment in society through one challenged aesthetically profile. All women are beautiful in some way. In Muslim countries, being beautiful is even more important than anywhere else.It is a ticket for woman to be married one day and to be accepted, to not be isolated and forgotten. For her family to not feel the burden of non-married daughter. For whole society to sacrifice woman’s beauty to the Altair of tradition. Destrying woman’s beauty in Pakistan means destroying her chance. She is not killed but she is dead in social and emotional way. She is rejected. She is not beautiful. She doesnt exist. Cruel Pakistan. Men’s rules. Acid rules.Against women. Always against them.
The problem with acid attack is not limited only in Pakistan, there are many recorded cases in India, Bangladesh but also on the Middle East, Turkey and Western World, but mostly among Muslim populations. However, the vitriolage trend in Pakistan seems to be a problem for human rights activists all over the globe and they warn that only in 2015, there were about 160 acid attacks on women. Targets are not only housewives in marriages but also girls or female professionals. We would think that acid attack is happening usually in small communities where everyone knows everyone and where picking target is “black sheep” for some reason. It is not true. Acid epidemic is hitting the urban areas and big cities and attackers could be very educated people as well as the victims are. In other words, for closer picture, acid is a cheap and coward’s weapon for destroying someone’s life and future. For destroying woman’s life and woman’s future. The bottle of acid costs less than a dollar and it is available in many stores around the Pakistan. It is reachable by people who have enemies or who see enemies in someone. Women who don’t accept something by husbands, girls who refuse boys, rape victims who are “shame” for shameful society, prominent female experts who irritate the male concurrent. They are all victims. They are all victims of barbaric and brutal behavior which is allowed by Pakistani system or not punished enough. The stories are different but empty souls and sad, damaged at one time pretty faces are the same.One British magazine brings one of confessions:“When a young, bright and highly intelligent woman (who has asked to remain anonymous for this interview) from the district of Rawalpindi, in Pakistan was raped, there was a hushed and uneasy quiet that fell amongst the village whenever she passed through.She decided to ignore it, and shunned it aside as this is the attitude many people in India and Pakistan towards rape. They do not blame the attacker, but the victim herself.No less than a few weeks after, the young woman who was slowly trying to adapt and recover from her initial horrific rape attack, found herself doubled up in pain in an alleyway screaming for help as her face and eyes burned, one late afternoon coming home. The reason? As the young woman had brought shame to her family, for being raped she was now no longer pure and thought of as dirty.”This unknown Pakistani girl believes that the attacker will never be revealed and punished because acid crimes are not solved positively for women. Till 2011, the massive acid attack on women in Pakistan hasn’t been considered as a crime but rather as a cry of legal system that must be done something about horrible incidents around the country. The violence was committed by men and only against women as an easy targets. The lawyer from Karachi was one of acid victim:“Her only mistake was that she was a very intelligent and a beautiful young lady. She was well mannered, well educated and came from a respectable background, and had landed herself a very good job at law firm, so having done well for herself jealousy from men can arise I think, but can’t ever excuse what these horrible people did to her.It was unfortunate that one night on her way back home from work she had acid thrown over her face, arms and some even landed on her feet, and this was in a very affluent estate in Karachi. The s perpetrator of the crime is still out there and was never found.” The another victim was an university professor attacked by her doctoral student. There are so many of them: doctors, journalists, teachers, engineers, wives, daughters, daughters-in-law. Their only sin was they were enough self-confident to not accept something-someone or enough proud to refuse something- someone. Bushra Shafi is one smiling adorable woman who experienced acid 15 years ago. Her husband and his family together destroyed her face and her life. She had more than 150 operations to get to the phase to look as good as she can. Pain is still there, not only in her skin and body but also in her soul. It is not so easy to accept that your life is ruined, that you lost everything and you won’t have anything.
The system is cruel, you are not pampered by your own family, how could you ever expect that others will show any kind of mercy?Having those things in mind, Massarat Misbah, the business woman and owner of beauty saloon in Lahore,makes new possibilities for acid victims. She met one acid victim and tried to help her as a great make up artists with medical help in the background, and then found out that there is still an army of then beautiful and now destroyed women, the whole new world of broken souls who need encouragement. She decided to give them second chance and to train them for beauticians. That could be considered as an absurd thing. Women whose beauty was disfigured are making other beautiful women even more beautiful and more attractive. How they will deal with that? Isn’t that a high mental pressure for them to handle ? The mentioned Pakistani business woman believes it is a blessing for them.She even said that some clients who find that inappropriate have another saloons for their selfish egoistic beauty time but those women have only Massarat Misbah and her hand in the dark system where men are predators and women are reachable prey.The Depilex Smile Again Foundation, run by this courageous woman in male society, tries to answer on all acid victims prayers and wishes. There are so many of them, and as Massarat says:”It’s nothing to do with education, it’s nothing to do with religion, it’s everything to do with the ego of a man” Men are hunting and haunting women, men are punishing women for rejecting them, for giving birth to baby girls or simply for leaving them. Women are punished for being self confident in the men’s club with caving rules.
What I found interesting also is a high numbers of acid attacks on young and beautiful men who refuse to be with another men for his sexual pleasures. Homosexuality is a sin in Islamic society or at least it should be considered as a sin but behind the scene, there are so many of those who feel passion for young, attractive and handsome boys. Iqbal was one of them. He was great, beautiful dancer and only 15 years old when he felt the acid horror attack by man who he refused for sexual relationship. He is not the only one boy. There are also others, whose beauty was also curse for evil men.
The Acid Survivors Trust International unites all survivors into one union and helps them rebuild their lives. Those people are suffering from serious physical distortions and also from psychological issues because being targeted as acid victim in Pakistani society means you are also targeted as someone who is not anymore ” good for eyes”. They are facing with refusal, conviction, contempt…and they are still bigger problem for Pakistan people than their slaughterers, which is unbelievable. It shows how far away is Pakistan for any democracy or how slows it travels to the democratic values and human rights.
Acid violence is not connected with Islam because it was recorded also among western population. It is not connected with terrorism but it is a crime. The serious crime against women in the century of possible conquering of the Mars. It is a serious crime against men and against civilization at all. It is a serious crime which shouldn’t be tolerated but must be legally cured and eradicated. This is not Pakistan’s concern only. This is a world’s concern.Concern of all of us. Now and here. Everywhere.