Islamic Barbarism: Disfiguring Women by Acid Attack, Part 1

Saturday, 11 September 2010 01:47 Dr. Radhasyam Brahmachari Women - Abuse
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Women are sexual slaves of men in Islam. So when women refuse to follow that holy order by refusing sexual advances or marriage proposal etc. by Muslim men, the latter engage in acid attacks to disfigure the women in order to make them aware of their place in Muslim society... 

One would be shocked to know that Dina el-Gowhary, a tender Egyptian girl of 15, has fallen victim to acid attack by Islamic fanatics. Her offence is: she was born to a father, who deserted Islam and embraced Christianity 35 years ago (Islamic Barbarism in Action: Acid Attack on Muslim Egyptian Girl for Converting to Christianity).

Wikipedia describe the phenomenon of acid attacks as thus:

“Acid throwing (acid attack or vitriolage) is a form of violent assault. Perpetrators of these attacks throw acid at their victims (usually at their faces), burning them, and damaging skin tissue, often exposing and sometimes dissolving the bones. The consequences of these attacks include blindness and permanent scarring of the face and body. These attacks are most common in Cambodia, Afghanistan, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and other Asian countries. Nearly 80% of victims of these acid attacks are females and almost 40% are under 18 years of age.”

It adds: “There is a high survival rate amongst victims of acid attacks. Consequently the victim is faced with physical challenges, which require long term surgical treatment, as well as psychological challenges, which require in-depth intervention from psychologists and counsellors at each stage of physical recovery. Depression and anxiety are common amongst all patients with large burn injuries; however for victims with acid injuries the physical scarring can lead to feelings of shame and embarrassment, resulting in the survivor living a life in hiding due to fear of prejudice and stigma from their peers and the community. Many survivors continue to have vivid memories of the incident which cause great levels of distress, especially when they know their attackers are free to attack again.”

In South Asia, acid attacks have been used as a form of revenge for refusal of sexual advances, proposals of marriage and demands for dowry. Scholars Taru Bahl and M. H. Syed say that disputes over land and properties are another leading cause. In Bangladesh, where such attacks are relatively common, they are mostly a form of domestic violence.

Fewer cases of acid attack also occurs amongst Hindus in India to enforce the caste system in India, where upper caste individuals often attack Dalits for supposedly violating the order, while in Cambodia, wives are reported to attacks their husbands' lovers with acid. According to the New York Times reporter Nicholas D. Kristof, “Acid attacks are at an all time high in Pakistan and increasing every year. The attacks are typically the work of men against their wives who have dishonored them." In India, the number of acid attacks have been rising. There had been 68 reported acid attacks in the state of Karnataka since 1999.

According to a Rand Corporation (a nonprofit global policy think tank first formed to offer research and analysis to the United States armed forces by Douglas Aircraft Company) commentary, hundreds of women in Pakistan, Kashmir and Afghanistan have became blind or maimed "when acid was thrown on their unveiled faces by male fanatics who considered them improperly dressed." Attacks or threats of attacks on women who failed to wear hijab or were otherwise "immodestly dressed" have been reported in other countries as well. In Afghanistan, in November 2008, extremists also targeted schoolgirls for attending school. It is to be noted that during the Taliban's rule, girls in the country were banned from attending school.

The chemical agents most commonly used to commit these attacks are hydrochloric acid and sulphuric acid. According to Mridula Bandyopadhyay and Mahmuda Rahman Khan, who are fighting to end this menace, it is a form of violence primarily targeted at women.

As per the attack on Dina el-Gowhary is concerned, her father was a Muslim, but nearly 35 years ago, he left Islam and embraced Christianity. According to Egyptian law, apostasy or leaving Islam is a crime that calls for death sentence. Several Fatwas were issued calling for the spilling of his blood, which put his own life and of his family members in constant danger. In February, this year (2010), when Dina ventured out from their hiding place in Alexandria with her father to buy some bottled water, acid was thrown upon her, which set her jacket instantly on fire. “My father quickly took my jacket off before the fire could reach my arms. After this incident, I am terrorized to go out to the street, with or without my father,” said Dina.

Dina wrote a letter to the Egyptian President Mubarak seeking his intervention to save her life and the life of her father and allow them to leave Egypt. “She had previously written to President Obama, who got her message and responded to it. It was reported that the el-Gowharys met with the US Committee on International Religious Freedom on their last visit to Egypt in January, 2010, and they have asked for asylum in the US”, writes Mary Abdelmassih. But she is not confident whether she will get a similar treatment from President Mubarak. “Will he listen to us and lend us a helping hand?” asks Dina.

In her letter to Obama, Dina narrated her another encounter with Muslim fanatics. She wrote: “I was threatened many times before. Once while I was coming back from my school, a bearded young man stepped out of a car, lifted me through my clothes from the ground and warned me that if my father and myself do not go back to Islam, both of us will be killed.”

The el-Gowhary family was barred from leaving Egypt on September 17, 2009 without any legal reason. They were, however, told that the order came from a higher authority without disclosing which this authority was. “It is only due to the grace and protection of God, that we are still alive”, said Dina. 

The Story of Kulsooma of Kashmir

On August 6, 2000, Kulsooma, a ninth-grade student from Srinagar, Kashmir, was going for tuition with her cousin Fauzia. On the way, 4 boys appeared from nowhere and threw a bottle of acid on Kulsooma’s face (Valley of Fear, The Statesman, June 2, 2005).

“These were the times when Kashmir was gripped by fear as the Lashkar-e-Jabbar, a lesser known militant group which, with the support of Kashmir’s only woman militant organization Dukhtaran-e-Millat was enforcing the Muslim dress code – veils, covered head and no cosmetics. Kashmiri women and girls were asked to quit studies and stay at home”, says Ms Suri. “An attempt to talibanise education in Kashmir was started in 1991-92, when the Allah Tigers and the Dukhtaran-e-Millat had issued diktats on the dress code. The Lashkar-e-Jabbar cadres had also thrown acid on Gazala and Rubia, the teachers of government schools, for not wearing veil and for wearing make-up. The incident took place at Rangers’ Stop near Khanyar in Srinagar”, adds the Statesman story.

Just after the attack, Kulsooma’s cry rent the air. She cried to onlookers to come to her rescue and take her to a hospital. But, in fear of the fanatics, nobody came forward to help her. Fauzia, her cousin, threw water on her face to alleviate the pain and took her to the Srinagar Hospital.

Nearly ten years after the tragedy, Kulsooma is still terrorized. She rarely speaks. She talks only with her mother and that too in monosyllables.

Story of Haseena Hussain

“Haseena Hussain was an attractive, upwardly mobile woman in Bangalore, India, with everything going in her favour. But it all changed in 1999, when she turned down her former boss' marriage proposal and he sought revenge by pouring two liters of concentrated hydrochloric acid over her body”, wrote Scott Carney in his article Acid Attacks on Women in India Prompt Protests.

“Hussain now works with the 'Campaign and Struggle Against Acid Attacks on Women' (CSAAAW) to fight the surge of acid violence against women. Since 1999, the group has documented 61 such attacks. In the most recent case, a 22-year-old mother of four children was doused with acid, and forced to drink a deadly concoction of a corrosive chemical and alcohol by her abusive husband in the city of Mysore”, adds Carney.

CSAAAW has had some success in persuading the courts and the police into taking acid attacks more seriously. In a recent ruling, the sentence of Hussain's attacker was increased from five years to 14. But even that measure of justice rings hollow to Hussain, who had burns over most of her body and lost her nose and eyesight.

In that ruling, the judge also demanded that the government set up a fund of about US$250,000 to cover the costs of reconstructive surgery that many of these women need. Survivors of the attacks say that the fund is only enough to care for two women, far short of the needs of the more than 60 survivors.

Even with excellent medical care, the best that most of these women can hope is survival. If not treated immediately, they can lose their eyesight and get into depression. Many commit suicide.

Acid violence seems to be almost unique to South Asia, with most incidents occurring in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. Part of the reason is that acid is cheap and widely available. Many Indians use concentrated acid to sterilize their kitchens and bathrooms, as Americans would use bleach.

Perhaps the most dangerous thing about acid attacks is the fear that they create amongst target group, mainly beautiful young girl. With just a few rupees, anyone can buy a weapon that can ruin another person's life in just a few seconds. CSAAAW activists are currently demanding the government regulate the trading and use of acids.

ACID ATTACKS IN BANGLADESH

In Bangladesh, acid has emerged as the new weapon for disfiguring women. “Wives, daughters, girls are punished by having acid thrown on them, permanently disfiguring them. The government prohibits the sale of the corrosive liquids, but they are easily found on the market. The phenomenon is spreading. The victims now include children and adult males”, says a report, Acid is the new weapon for disfiguring women.

“Women in Bangladesh suffer marginalization. And the violence against them, at home and outside, continues to grow. Recently, a new weapon has been added: acid, which disfigures their faces and bodies”, the report adds. 

Story of Parul and Nasima

Parul's husband, 30, disfigured her by throwing acid into her face in 2000, because her relatives failed to pay up the agreed dowry. The victim's mother had lodged a complaint with local police regarding the oppression and constant torture on her daughter by her husband and his kin a few months ago, but did not get justice. Even after the acid attack, her husband, the culprit, was not arrested.

Nasima has an 11-year-old mentally retarded daughter, who was raped. She accused the attackers two years ago, and since then she had been receiving continual threats. Then the acid attack took place. The attack left her torso and back devastated. She has now been forced not to press charges against her daughter's rapist, and withdraw her previous accusation.

Domestic and international awareness and pressure led the Bangladeshi Government to pass a strict law in 2002 against the practice of acid-throwing on of young women for economic reason, jealousy, or refusal of sexual advances. The new law saw a temporary reduction in such attack cases, but they are on the rise again.

There were 1,428 cases during 2002 to 2007; 116 cases from January to August 2007; and it rose to 125 in the same period this year (2008). Since 2002, there have been only 190 trials, in which 254 defendants have been sentenced: 11 to death, 89 to labor camps. Authorities are unable to say how many of those sentences have been carried out, or how many of the sentenced culprits are in prison.

Most recent victims have not only been young women, but also children, attacked out of vengeance against their parents, as well as men, attacked over land disputes and romantic rivalries.

“The only way to stop this horrendous crime against innocent girls is for ordinary people to realize that Islam is false, shot down the mosques and imprison the hate spewing mullahs, just as Ataturk did in Turkey and Reza Shah did in Iran, more than eighty years ago. But that would be the first step. The most important thing is to detoxify Muslims from Islam. Islam is the poison that is causing all these insanities”, says a social activist.