Saturday, May 12, 2012

Rise In Acid Attacks On Men By Women In Pakistan

Not that this is to be condoned, but it seems it's payback time for men in Pakistan. Women, the usual victims of acid attacks (which is used as a form of punishment for anything from dishonoring their families and/or husbands to rejecting a marriage proposal o husbands sexual demands), are now turning the tables on the male population. Apparently, there has been a recent increase in acid attacks by women, and no-one over there seem to know why. 

But it's quite obvious they've learned through example.  There's a great monologue in Will Shakespeare's "Othello" where villain Iago's wife Emilia explains to Desdemona why women do the things they do.

But I do think it is their husbands' faults
If wives do fall. Say that they slack their duties
And pour our treasures into foreign laps
Or else break out in peevish jealousies
Throwing restraint upon us. Or say they strike us
Or scant our former having in despite.
Why, we have galls, and though we have some grace,
Yet have we some revenge. Let husbands know
Their wives have sense like them. They see and smell
And have their palates both for sweet and sour,
As husbands have. What is it that they do
When they change us for others? Is it sport?
I think it is. And doth affection breed it?
I think it doth. Is ’t frailty that thus errs?
It is so too. And have not we affections,
Desires for sport, and frailty, as men have?
Then let them use us well, else let them know,
The ills we do, their ills instruct us so.

The last two lines sum it all up. Unfortunately, as the predominate targets of such horrendous acts of revenge, Pakistani women are learning that the best way to lash out is to use acid.

One male victim, 24-year-old Sheikh Mohammad Noman, had acid thrown on his face by his wife- she wanted a divorce so she could get back together with her ex-husband, and Noman refused since he still loved her. Although he was blinded and burned, his wounds don't seem as severe as so many photos I've seen of female victims, but he was blinded in one eye and will suffer pain for a long time. Noman's wife will be tried, but is currently out on bail.

According to a women's rights group The Aurat Foundation, the bulk of attacks are against women.

More than 8,500 acid attacks, forced marriages and other forms of violence against women were reported in Pakistan in 2011, according to The Aurat Foundation, a women's rights organization.

Up until recently, Pakistan has been very lax regarding honor crimes, and it wasn't until 2011 that they actually set up laws that criminalize acid attacks. Anyone convicted of an attack will be jailed for at least 14 years, which doesn't seem much for an act of violence that makes someone's life a living hell. And laws or not, will it make any difference? In a patriarchal/chauvinist society the men will more than likely still get off easy. Like Bilal Khar, the rich and powerful ex-husband of 33-year-old dancer/prostitute Fakhra Younus, who 12 years ago severely disfigured Younus with acid and still walks free today. Younus, in despair over Pakistan's lack of interest in such atrocities and the indifference and insensitivity of Pakistan's leaders,  recently took her own life by jumping out of a sixth floor building in Rome. Khar still denies he was the perpetrator, and says it was some other man with the same name.
According to this CNN interview regarding the rise in female generated acid attacks, there have been a whopping 3 attacks this year so far.

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