There is, of course, nothing in the Qur’an to the effect of “Throw acid on her” if she is disobedient — there is just “beat her” (4:34). And it is good to see that at least one of these men is being prosecuted. But the horrible attacks on these women are an indirect result of the reduction of women to the status of commodities in Islamic law. The husbands did not see them as equal human beings with rights they were bound to respect. “Pakistani women burned by acid or fire rely on beauty of others: Women who say their husbands threw acid at them or burned them find help in becoming self-reliant through salon work,” from the Associated Press, August 16 (thanks to Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi):
LAHORE, PAKISTAN “” Saira Liaqat squints through her one good eye as she brushes a woman’s hair. Her face, most of which the acid melted years ago, occasionally lights up with a smile. Her hands, largely undamaged, deftly handle the dark brown locks.
A few steps away in this popular beauty salon, Urooj Akbar diligently trims, cleans and paints clients’ fingernails. Her face, severely scarred from the blaze that burned about 70% of her body, is somber. It’s hard to tell if she’s sad or if it’s just the way she now looks.
Liaqat and Akbar are among Pakistan’s many female victims of arson and acid attacks. Such tales tend to involve a spurned or crazy lover and end in a life of despair and seclusion for the woman.
These two instead became beauticians. […]
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan found that in 2007, at least 33 women were burned in acid attacks, and 45 were set on fire. But the statistics are probably an undercount, since many cases go unreported out of fear.
The victims Misbah has helped need, on average, 25 to 30 surgical procedures over several years, but she soon realized that wasn’t enough. Some, especially those who were outcasts in their families, had to be able to support themselves.[…]
According to Liaqat and a lawyer for her case, she was married in her teens, on paper, to a relative, but the families had agreed she wouldn’t live with him until she finished school. Within months, though, the man started demanding she join him.
One day at the end of July 2003, he showed up at their house with a package. He asked her to get him some water. He followed her to the kitchen, and as she turned around with the water, she says, he doused her with the acid. It seared much of her face, blinded her right eye, and seriously weakened her left one.
Liaqat shakes her head when recalling how a few days before the incident she found a small pimple on her face and threw a fit.
After she was burned, her parents at first wouldn’t let their daughter look at a mirror. But eventually she saw herself, and she’s proud to say she didn’t cry.
“Once we had a wedding in the family. I went there and all the girls were getting dressed and putting on makeup. So that time, I felt a pain in my heart,” she says. “But I don’t want to weaken myself with these thoughts.”
Her husband is in prison as the attempted murder case against him proceeds. The two are still legally married.
Akbar says she found herself in an arranged marriage by age 22. Her husband grew increasingly possessive and abusive, she says. The two had a child.
About three years ago, Akbar says, he sprinkled kerosene oil on her as she slept and lighted it.
A picture taken shortly afterward shows how her face melted onto her shoulders, leaving her with no visible neck.
Akbar has not filed a case against her now ex-husband. She says she’ll one day turn to the law, at least to get her daughter back.
Both women were reluctant for a reporter to contact their alleged attackers.