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Monday, June 6, 2011

Dealing with a Burning Issue

Naila Furath was on her way home from school, in Pakistan. She was only 13 years old when she was burnt by an acid attack. Two young men (Irshad Hussein, and Furath`s science teacher: Mazhar Hussein) ambushed the girl and threw a cup of acid-like liquid in her face, which disfigured her for life. Naila`s ‘crime’ was to have refused a man, and to have dishonoured him for rejecting his interest in her. The man punished her by perpetrating an acid attack to avenge his pride. These types of stories are extremely common in Pakistan and are often crimes committed against women, but perhaps now something can be changed due to the recent implementation of a new law on May 11th 2011. Members of the Pakistani Parliament were unanimous in their approval of the legislation.

The Bill in question is called “The Acid Control and Acid Crime Prevention Bill 2010,” (which has become an Act under the aegis of the ‘Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Act, 2011) which stipulates a minimum of 14 years with a maximum of life imprisonment, and a fine of more than 12.000 Euros for those charged with these types of offences. It is important to note that these types of provisions are crucial in paving the way for the abolition of this type of violent assault. Acid throwing attacks disfigure around 200 women a year.

Naila had the courage and determination to let her voice be heard: Hussein has recently been fined 10.000 Euros and her case was brought before the Supreme Court of Pakistan. This particular case was taken into account in order to raise the consciousness of Pakistani lawmakers about the need for specific legislation to punish perpetrators committing acid attacks.

We do have wait and see what type of effect this will have on Pakistani society; whether they continue to perceive acid attacks as an integrated part of their culture or, acknowledge the bill as a legislative tool that can really alter Pakistan’s global image! Lastly, we have to assess whether the Bill will be put into practice as opposed to just being written in theory, but at least we can assure ourselves of the fact that the legislation has now been approved and that citizens are obliged to respect the law. Is Pakistan evolving, only time will tell!

If you would like to find more information on the new law, please click on the link below:

Virgina Pierfelice ©

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