Bringing Awareness to Acid Attacks in the Middle East

Asad Faruqi/courtesy of HBO

Victoria Orozco, Staff Writer

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Every year, hundreds of women are victims to severe deformation due to liquid acid thrown on their faces; these are known as “acid attacks”. The victims in the attack usually suffer from emotional and physical damage, and often insurance companies do not cover cosmetic surgeries and the women do not have a fix for their permanently scarred faces.

A recent Academy Award winning film, “Saving Face” exposes how the acid attacks have affected women and their lives. Many women in the Middle East have acid thrown on them for various reasons including: being immodest, not wearing their veil, getting an education, choosing not to get married to someone, or husbands carrying out the attacks themselves. The attacks are usually carried out by someone close to them, such as the aforementioned husbands or family members (usually males). In 2011, 15 school girls in Afghanistan were on their way to school when a man on a motorcycle pulled up next to them and asked where they were going and one of the girls responded by telling him that they were going to school. The man then proceeded to throw liquid acid on the girls, permanently scarring them all.

Many of the countries where these acid attacks on women occur are a patriarchal society, where the women are not given much freedom. In March, acid attack victim Fakhra Younus committed suicide after she felt her life was not worth living, after receiving more than three dozen reconstructive surgeries. Her former husband was behind this atrocious act, after she left him for being both physically and emotionally abusive to her. Many other women, just like Younus, fall victim to many acts of violence from the men in that country or area.

In more recent years, many women’s rights organization groups such as The Aurat Foundation have been fighting to achieve gender equality for women in the Middle East, and have been trying to bring justice to the women who have to experience this violence brought upon them. Many other organizations are teaming up with doctors to help reconstruct acid attack victims’ faces for little or no cost.

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