“The transgender acid attack survivor running for parliament” – BBC

Zulfiqar Ali & Victoria Bisset | 20 July 2018
Forced to leave home when she was only 13, physically and sexually abused by relatives, and later attacked with acid by her former boyfriend, Nayyab Ali’s life as a transgender woman in Pakistan has been turbulent.
But now, the university graduate is one of four transgender candidates standing in Pakistan’s general election next week.
“I realized that without political power and without being part of the country’s institutions, you cannot gain your rights,” she told the BBC.
More people from the community are contesting than ever before, in what has proven to be a significant period for transgender rights in Pakistan.
(Link to full article: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-44684714)

“Eradicating Acid Violence” – Express Tribune

Leena Nishtar | August 9, 2018
(Link to article: https://tribune.com.pk/story/1776282/6-eradicating-acid-violence/)
Pakistan’s National Assembly passed ‘The Acid and Burn Crime Bill 2017’ in May 2018. The bill stipulates free medical treatment and rehabilitation for acid victims and also outlines a process for conducting trials of accused in the shortest possible time. It remains to be passed by the Senate of Pakistan. Regardless of politics, the upper house should expedite passage of this bill, in order to ensure that victims of acid violence can access their fundamental right to healthcare.
Prevention of this crime needs to be a mainstay; and the incoming government must review the impediments that stand in the way of implementing the already exiting legislation and frameworks.
Pakistan made a significant stride with the enactment of ‘The Acid Control and Acid Crimes Prevention Act, 2011’, which makes the offence punishable with imprisonment of a minimum of 14 years and a fine of Rs1 million. Another historic decision was taken in 2012, whereby it was held that such an offence should be tried exclusively in the Anti-Terrorism Courts (ATC). In the case of Beenish Sharif and Summon, survivors of acid attacks from Lahore, the ATC awarded long-term imprisonments and hefty fines to make the punishments exemplary.
There has undoubtedly been progress since the legislation was enacted. A study by the Acid Survivors Foundation in Islamabad reported that there has been a 50% decline in acid crime cases across Pakistan since 2014. However, such crimes have the ability to persist.
According to news reports, just last week, Salman threw a bottle of acid on his wife, Sobia, during a quarrel in Talha Town. Last month, two girls were injured in an acid attack while they were sleeping. In the same month, a man threw acid on his wife, which not only injured her but also her niece when she tried to rescue her. A girl suffered 90% burns on her body in Sialkot because she refused a marriage proposal. Eighteen-year-old Maryam Nazir, a teacher at a local school, was attacked on her doorstep. Twenty-three-year-old Mehwish suffered serious burn injuries when her cousin sprayed acid on her face and body. Twenty-five-year-old Asma Yaqoob, a Pakistani Christian woman, was doused with acid and set on fire for refusing a Muslim man.
It must be noted that these practices are mostly prevalent in remote rural areas where reporting standards are poor, and many cases go unaddressed due to the cultural stigma of reporting crimes—women, especially, fear possible bias in courts, unsupportive family dynamics, astronomical legal fees, and potential repercussions from their attackers.
Acid violence is one of the worst forms of gender-based violence in Pakistan. This heinous act is usually instigated by family disputes, refusal of a marriage proposal, and family ‘honour’ issues. Perpetrators usually intend to disfigure rather than kill their victims, resulting in lifelong bodily disfigurement as well as severe emotional and psychological trauma.
In terms of the way forward, the widespread availability of acids and chemicals is one of the major reasons behind acid attacks. The sale of acid should be banned or at least regulated so no more lives are destroyed.
The use of Diyat (financial compensation paid to the victim or heirs of a victim), which is usually resorted to in such cases should be discouraged. There is a greater need to penalise perpetrators by awarding longer jail sentences and hefty fines. Additionally, there is a need to establish burn and rehabilitation centers as well as to ensure legal aid and free access to medical services for acid attack survivors. Law-enforcement agencies should be especially trained to deal with victims of acid attacks.
Most importantly, there is a need for a change in mindset. Recently, key findings from the 2017 Extended General Population Poll and Justice Sector Survey of the World Justice Project shows that 31% of men in Pakistan believe that “a man has a right to hit his wife if she ‘misbehaves’…”. There is shocking systemic tolerance for violence and criminal practices against women and girls in both Pakistan as well as across much of the world. Attitudes towards women need to change for there to be further progress. Awareness campaigns on laws relating to acid violence, gender equality and peace and tolerance need to be significantly bolstered to deter perpetrators.
I witnessed firsthand the plight of these survivors when I had the privilege of working with them during an internship at the Acid Survivors Foundation, an NGO dedicated to alleviating the suffering of victims of acid terrorism. The imprint of their tragically disfigured faces will remain etched in my memory, forever. They were all women; their perpetrators invariably men. My interactions with them were a painful reminder of the blatant human rights violations, which continue in this day and age, as a result of which women and children remain particularly vulnerable. In a country so charged with human suffering there exists the need for people to stand in solidarity and fight for the marginalised communities.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 9th, 2018.

Call for Proposal (NEW) (EU2/RFP/4)

Acid Survivors Foundation (ASF) invites technical & financial proposals from consultants/firms to develop tools and training for a KAP Survey on the subject of Violence Against Women and Girls, for a project funded by the European Union. The applicants should send their proposals at the latest by Sunday, 15th April 2018, at hr.asfpakistan@gmail.com. We believe in equal opportunity for all. Women are encouraged to apply. Only short-listed consultants/firms would be contacted.
Click here for detailed RFP (EU2/RFP/4)

Benazir Income Support Programme joins forces with ASF

Thursday, March 29, 2018:
A Letter of Agreement was recently signed between Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) and Acid Survivors Foundation (ASF) Pakistan to work on reducing Gender Based Violence (GBV) including Acid Violence in Pakistan, under ASF’s European Union (EU) project. Parties present included Chairperson ASF Pakistan, Mrs. Valerie Khan, Executive Director Mr. Mohammad Khan, Chairperson BISP Ms. Marvi Memon, and Ambassador of the EU Delegation to Pakistan, Mr. Jean-Francois Cautain.
The titled of this EU funded project is ‘Taawun’, which means synergies. This truly translates ASF Pakistan’s working and operational philosophy and explains the historical achievements that resulted from ASF programs. Ms. Marvi Memon’s association with ASF dates back to a decade: she transpires what women politicians can do and we are pleased to reach out to the most vulnerable of women groups to promote women’s rights, agency and overall positive citizenry. The National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) has already joined ASF in this adventure, and ASF is now hoping to welcome the Ministry of  Human Rights on board.

ATTN: Request For Proposal (RFP) 2

Request for Proposal (RFP)                                                
Acid Survivors Foundation (ASF) invites technical & financial proposals from consultants/firms to conduct Mapping and analysis of support and assistance facilities and good practices to counter VAWG and Acid/burn violence in Pakistan, for a project funded by the European Union. The applicants should send their proposals at the latest by 29th January 2018, at hr.asfpakistan@gmail.com. We believe in equal opportunity for all. Women are encouraged to apply. Only short-listed consultants/firms will be contacted. Please find our detailed RFPs below:
There are 2 separate Mapping Exercises: one applicant may apply for both or only one of these:

ATTN: Request for Proposal (RFP)

Request for Proposal (RFP)                                                
Acid Survivors Foundation (ASF) invites technical & financial proposals from consultants/firms to conduct Research on the national policy and legislative framework, for a project funded by the European Union. The applicants should send their proposals at the latest by 12th January 2018, at hr.asfpakistan@gmail.com. We believe in equal opportunity for all. Women are encouraged to apply. Only short-listed consultants/firms would be contacted.
Click HERE for detailed Terms of Reference.

‘50pc decline’ in acid attack cases in 2016

By Tahir Niaz  |  Published: May 13, 2017
Source: The Nation
ISLAMABAD –  A 50 percent decline has been seen in the number of acid attacks from 2014 to 2016, according to a study conducted by a non-governmental organization.
The study by Acid Survivors Foundation in collaboration with European Union, Group Development Pakistan, and National Commission on the Status of Women is part of the report “State of Human Rights in 2016” launched by Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP). It said that in 2014, a total of 153 acid attacks were recorded. As compared to 2014, a 54.9 percent decrease was witnessed in 2015 while a drop of 51.91 percent was seen in the number of victims in 2016. HRCP recorded 51 cases of acid attacks with 67 female victims in 2016.
The report further said that hundreds of women and girls were murdered in 2016 by family members on the pretext of defending the family honour. In several of the reported cases, the victim had been set on fire. The report quoted an incident which took place on April 28, 2016 in which a 15-member jirga in Abbottabad ordered the killing a 16-year-old girl by burning her to death for helping her friend escape the village to marry of her free will. Two similar cases were also reported in June where the victims were burnt to death in the name of honour, the report added. Another case that gained prominence in 2016 was the murder of Qandeel Baloch, a 26-year-old social media activist. She was strangulated by her own brother.
Acid throwing is a form of violent assault with an intention to disfigure, torture, or kill. A majority of acid attack cases remain undecided due to existence of various loopholes in the law. Medico-legal reports play an important role in the investigation, but sometimes acid victims reach the hospital very late and at times the cases are not reported at all.
This news was published in The Nation newspaper.

Why Acid Attacks Have Doubled in the UK

By Max Daly  |  Published: April 24, 2017, 2:27 PM
Source: VICE.COM

Adele Bellis, 24, who was scarred for life in an acid attack orchestrated by her controlling boyfriend. Photo: Yui Mok/PA Archive/PA Images)

The use of corrosive liquids to disfigure people for life is becoming sickeningly popular.

In the early hours of Easter Monday at a glitzy club night in an east London bar, 20 people were sprayed with acid. The attack – which took place during a row, allegedly over drugs, between two groups of men – at a bar called Mangle in Dalston prompted the evacuation of 600 guests, including TOWIE stars, models and footballers’ mates. It left two people blind in one eye, two men with severe facial injuries and a host of clubbers needing treatment for scarring.
This weekend police arrested 24-year-old scaffolder Arthur Collins – boyfriend of TOWIE star Ferne McCann – in connection with the incident, tasering him when he jumped from a window at an address in Highham Ferrers, Northants. He has since been charged with 14 counts of wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm, and one count of throwing corrosive fluid on a person with intent to do grievous bodily harm.

An acid attack affecting such a large group of people is rare, but the use of noxious chemicals – or “face melters” – as a weapon of choice is now horrifyingly frequent in the UK. Figures released by the Metropolitan Police found there has been a steep rise in the number of reported attacks in London to more than one incident a day, from 261 in 2015 to 454 in 2016. The rise in the capital is mirrored nationally, with growing numbers of people being treated for acid attacks in hospital and in incidents reported to police across the UK.

The Mangle attack was one of four such attacks in the space of just 11 days in London over the Easter holidays. On the 8th of April, a local Chinese family out for a stroll with their two-year-old son in a pushchair in Islington, north London had acid thrown at them. Screaming in pain, they were doused in water by passersby. The 40-year-old father suffered “life changing” injuries.

Less than a week later, on Good Friday afternoon, a man in his twenties was driving his Audi S3 in Bow, east London. He was shunted from behind by a white four-wheel drive. When he got out to inspect the damage he was sprayed in the face with ammonia and pushed to the ground before the carjackers sped off in his car. Last Wednesday, two days after the Mangle incident, a teenager suffered “life-changing” burns on his face and neck after he and a female friend were pelted with acid in Fulham, west London.
It’s a pretty shocking sequence, but then you look at February: five acid attacks, all within a small radius around east London and Essex – a zone which appears to be the epicentre of acid attacks in Britain. There was the attack on a tube train in Barking, at an amateur football game and then a secondary school in Dagenham. Plus two carjackings in Essex, including that of former boxer Michael Watson in Chingford. In November of 2016 a British-Pakistani businessmen had acid squirted in his face from a Lucozade bottle in a racist attack by a gang of 14 teenagers in Dagenham.
In its 2017 Threat Assessment, Thurrock Council in Essex declared acid attacks “a new and rising concern in gang related violence”. In February there were seven acid attacks in the borough of Havering in just three weeks. In May last year, 17-year-old Alexander Bassey was sentenced to eight years jail for GBH after spraying five teenage boys with acid from a bottle at Ockendon rail station. The list goes on.
Acid attacks are not new. The substance was a popular weapon in Victorian Britain, mainly because sulphuric acid was produced on an industrial scale then. It was also used as a tool of fear in gangland Britain, appearing in Brighton Rock in the form of a small bottle carried by the book’s antihero gangster Pinkie Brown. In south east Asia, where acid attacks are sickeningly commonplace, they are primarily a weapon of domestic violence or so called “honour” violence, by men against women. It’s harder to think of a more malicious way of ruining someone’s life.
In recent years there have been appalling incidents recorded around Britain: the man disfigured in a case of mistaken identity in Cornwall; TV presenter Katie Piper, who had acid thrown at her on the orders of a man who had raped her; the man left with terrible scars after bleach was thrown in his face outside a cinema in Sussex; and The Sun‘s gangland investigator, attacked with acid at his Glasgow home. But now a trickle of attacks have turned into a flood.

A screen shot from security footage of 17-year-old Alexander Bassey spraying five teenage boys with acid at Ockendon rail station.

There is a reason why acid is increasingly becoming a weapon of choice in 2017. Unlike high profile UK victims such as Piper and Naomi Oni, who was attacked by her jealous friend disguised in a veil, the new wave of noxious chemical assaults in Britain are now chiefly carried out by young men on other young men – mainly low level criminals using acid as a tool of revenge and for settling petty disputes.
For young armed offenders operating under increased crackdowns on knives and guns, a chemical weapon has an advantage: it can be carried incognito in a soft drink bottle and is legal, cheap and easy to get hold of. Sulphuric acid, for example, in the form of drain cleaner, can be bought for £1 in any DIY store. But crucially, acid is a weapon with a uniquely grotesque impact.
“The primary motive of an acid attack is not to kill, but to leave its mark on an opponent – to disfigure someone for everyone to see. That’s why the face is often the target,” Jaf Shah of the London-based charity Acid Survivors Trust International tells me. “The shocking thing about acid attacks is that they are so premeditated: the perpetrator is aware of the serious physical and psychological impact these chemicals will have on the victim when they are buying it. That’s what makes this weapon so chilling.”
Acid attacks have close links to Britain’s drug world. In June of last year two brothers were jailed after throwing a bottle of One Shot drain cleaner over Carla Whitlock in Southampton in revenge for a drug deal gone wrong. The judge described their actions as “medieval barbarism” and acid as a “pernicious and evil” weapon. In 2009, a key witness in a murder trial involving rival teenage drug dealing gangs from south London was attacked with acid after giving evidence.
It’s a weapon used by gangs “going country” to sell drugs in towns outside London. In June, a drug dealer from Peckham who sold crack in Essex threw acidin the face of a gang rival in Westcliff. In 2015, London gang members who were selling drugs in Boscombe, Dorset sprayed ammonia in the faces of two men in what police described as a “drug related crime”.

“In the criminal world, to eradicate an enemy’s future by disfiguring them, you are quids in. It’s a horrible development.”

Acid’s ability to breed fear is potent. Despite suffering such terrible injuries, most victims of acid attacks do not seek justice, for fear of retribution. A study carried out at a regional burns unit in Essex found only nine out of 21 victims pursued criminal charges against their attackers. According to figures released by the Met Police, three-quarters of police investigations into acid attacks are mothballed due to victims being unwilling to name the perpetrators or press charges.
Campaigners such as Shah say much stricter controls should be put in place to control the sale of strong acids and other noxious chemicals. He wants a licensing system ensuring that the details of people buying these products are recorded. There is also the option of introducing a ban on sales of acids to under-18s, using a similar law to the Intoxicating Substances Supply Act 1985, brought in to tackle rising glue and gas sniffing in the 1970s and 1980s.
“Acid is now a fashionable weapon of choice for criminals and gang members, to exert control, to keep people in line and for revenge attacks,” says Dr Simon Harding, a gang expert at Middlesex University. “Young gang members are always looking for a way of gaining notoriety and ‘street capital’. So in the criminal world, to eradicate an enemy’s future by disfiguring them, you are quids in. It’s a horrible development.”
Like glue and gas, if people want to get hold of acid, they will. Unfortunately the more police clamp down on knives and guns, the more highly corrosive chemicals will be used as a method of settling disputes, spreading fear and, in the most cowardly way possible, making your mark.


ASF report: Acid-throwing cases post sharp decline

By Sehrish Wasif  |  Published: February 21, 2017
Source: The Express Tribune
ISLAMABAD: A 50 per cent decline has been witnessed in acid crime cases across Pakistan since 2014. However, a reverse trend is witnessed in the number of children attacked in similar cases between 2013 and 2016, rising from 15 per cent to 21.3 per cent.
2014 was considered to be a critical baseline with a total of 153 acid attacks reported in the year.
However the prevalence of acid attacks was stabilised in 2015 and 2016, according to the report which has been compiled by Acid Survivors Foundation (ASF) in collaboration with European Union (EU), Group Development Pakistan and National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW).
In comparison with 2014, a 54.9 per cent decrease was witnessed in 2015 while a drop of 51.91 per cent in the victims was seen in 2016.
According to the data, it was noticed that the majority of the victims of acid violence were females.
In 2014, 66.19 per cent acid burn victims were females compared to the 32.85 per cent males. This spiked to 67.3 per cent females in 2015 against 32.6 per cent males.
In 2016 the percentage of female acid victims jumped to 69.9 per cent as compared to 26.21 per cent males.
The percentage of children victims of acid violence increased from 15 per cent in 2013 to 21.36 per cent in 2016.
Many children end up victims of acid attacks as collateral  damage such as sleeping next to the mother when acid is thrown at her but many acid attacks on children were also linked to marriage refusal or sexual advances, the report notes.
According to the report, 99 per cent of the culprits are male and only three females directly carried out the acid attacks. Most of the accused had a family link with the victim or knew them or were part of the community.
Geographical distribution
According to the data, 85 per cent of the acid attacks occurred in Punjab, mostly in southern Punjab followed by Sindh, Khyber-Pakhtunkwa, Balochsitan, Islamabad Capital Territory and Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
Meanwhile, among districts with the highest rates of acid attacks are Multan, Bahawlpur, Rahim Yar Khan and Muzaffargarh, according to the report.
While commenting over the findings of the report, Valerie Khan, Executive Director, Group Development Pakistan, said the passage of the Criminal Law Amendment Act XXV(2011) marks a milestone in the history of the country.
“But the major challenge is its effective implementation to further bring down the number of acid attack cases,” she said.
There is also a need to improve the legal framework so that other aspects of acid and burn violence would be addressed keeping in mind the best interest of the survivor and the country, she said.
Member of the National Commission on Human Rights (NCHR) Chaudhry Shafiq said that it was “worrisome to see a number of gender-based violence cases being reported from highly educated families living in major cities.”
Published in The Express Tribune, February 21st, 2017.