Sunday, November 04, 2012

Girl Killed by Parents in Acid Attack..Kashmir

Women on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border

A mother and father in Pakistani-administered Kashmir have been arrested for murdering their 15-year-old daughter by dousing her with acid "in the name of an honour", police say. Honour killings happen when mostly male family members believe the victim has brought dishonour to their community.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan reported 943 women were killed in honour killings last year. That represented an increase of more than 100 from 2010.  But such happenings are rare in parts of Kashmir under the control of Pakistan. Police say that the incident took place in a remote village in the southern district of Kotli. They say that the case was brought to their attention by the couple's eldest daughter.

It will not be clear until Friday - when the parents are due in court - if they admit or deny murder charges.  'Suspicious'Local police officer Raja Tahir Ayub told the BBC that the girl's father became enraged when he saw his daughter "looking at two boys" riding on a motorcycle outside their home on Monday. Police say that the parents suspected she was having illicit relations with one of the pair.
"He took his daughter inside, beat her up and then poured acid over her with the help of his wife," Mr Ayub said.

Police say that that the couple did not take their daughter to hospital until the next morning, and she succumbed to her injuries on Tuesday evening. The head of the state-run district hospital in Kotli - Muhammad Jahangir - confirmed the death. He said that the girl was brought to hospital in a serious condition with more than 35% burns.  "There was no way she could survive," he said.

Police say that the dead girl's married elder sister informed them of the alleged incident on Wednesday morning.  They say that she became suspicious when her parents did not allow mourners to see the face of the dead girl before she was buried - otherwise a normal practice in Kashmiri Muslim society.

In March the government of Pakistani-administered Kashmir made acid attacks a criminal offence punishable with life imprisonment.

Pakistan's Oscar triumph for acid attack film 'Saving Face

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy's Oscar win marked a historic cinematic triumph for Pakistan

Film-maker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy's triumph in becoming the first Pakistani to win an Oscar has been greeted with jubilation in her home country. She won the award for best documentary in the short subject category for her film Saving Face, about acid attacks on women. The film chronicles the work of acclaimed British-Pakistani plastic surgeon Mohammad Jawad.

It follows him as he travels around the country to perform reconstructive surgery on survivors of acid violence and is told by survivors going through the recovery and reconciliation process. Ms Obaid-Chinoy's dedication at the Oscar ceremony was pointed: "For all the women in Pakistan working for change, don't give up on your dreams - this is for you."

Although the film and its international acclaim has served to bring to the fore this brutal aspect to Pakistani society, activists say there is still a long way to go before the situation on the ground truly changes. One of the acid attack victims featured in the documentary did not want to speak on the record as she still lives with the husband who carried out the crime. She says that it is necessary to do so for the sake of the children.

The observational documentary was filmed entirely in Pakistan, primarily in the centre of the country and in the cities of Rawalpindi, Karachi and Islamabad.  The practice of acid attacks in Pakistan leaves victims - who are mostly women - horribly disfigured in the face.

Although thousands are affected by acid attacks, in a country where women are often the victims of numerous crimes, the problem has often been under-reported. But in 2011 legislation was introduced to address the problem. The Acid Control and Acid Crime Prevention Bill stipulates that attackers can be jailed from 14 years to life, in addition to receiving a 1m rupees fine (£7,000; $12,000).

But life for many victims also amounts to a form of imprisonment.  Another acid attack victim - who still has not been compensated for the attack against her - says that she is thrilled over Ms Obaid-Chinoy's win.
"We've been watching TV all morning," she said, "and I don't have the words to thank Ms Obaid-Chinoy for what she's done.
"I think it will become easier for women now and it will scare the perpetrators."

Meanwhile Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has announced the highest civil award for Ms Obaid-Chinoy. Such moves have been warmly welcomed by her admirers.
"When the bill was passed Sharmeen was there to film it. It was a huge deal for women," said politician Marvi Memon who featured in the film.
"The law is already in place but Sindh [province] has been defaulting - so people may wake up now because of this documentary. I think this issue has come to the forefront.
"We are extremely proud of Sharmeen - she is hardworking, capable and it is an honour for Pakistan that we have won an Oscar through her.
"She won and she embodies a beautiful woman of Pakistan - she is beautiful inside and out."

Other supporters are equally full of praise.
"This documentary shows we are not powerless - Pakistani women... are not victims anymore, but agents of change," proclaims Valarie Khan, Chairperson of Acid Survivors Foundation who helped Ms Chinoy make the documentary.
"There are still 200 attacks a year," she says, with reports [of such incidents] increasing.
"We have treated 150 patients - it is a long-term treatment [programme] but there is much more work [still] to do.
"We need to focus on [the police] investigation, the trial [process] and rehabilitation and we hope this documentary adds pressure not to stop here."

When she was nominated for the award in January Ms Obaid-Chinoy said it was the "stuff dreams are made of".  Now that dream has been fulfilled.

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