Acid Terror News & Propaganda

Title: Incredible Bravery Of Acid Attack Victim As She Arrives To Testify Against Married Lover Who Scalded Her When She Dumped Him
March 12, 2012
Daily Mail

Abstract:  A mother whose face was hideously deformed by acid sprayed by her married lover appeared in court today and accused him of 'turning me into a monster'.

Speaking on the first day of Richard Remes's trial for attempted murder in Belgium, Patricia Lefranc said she was 'determined to look him in the eye and show the jury what he has done to me'.

The 48-year-old, who underwent 86 operations following the attack, added: 'I hope to convince the court that he did indeed want to murder me.'

Remes, 57, is said to have planned the sulphuric acid attack after Ms Lefranc ended their relationship just over two years ago.

Ms Lefranc told Brussels Assizes that December 1, 2009 was the day Remes 'finally destroyed my life.'

She said he was waiting for her as she emerged from a lift in the Brussels suburb of Molenbeek-Saint-Jean.

He sprayed the sulphuric acid, once referred to as 'oil of vitriol' by medieval European alchemists, all over her head and upper body, she told the court.

She said she was convinced she would die, but neighbours in a nearby building heard her screams and managed to get her to the burns unit of a nearby hospital, where she lay in a coma for three months.

Ms Lefranc said: 'I hope Remes is convicted of attempted murder, and not just for assault and battery with torture. He did not just want to hurt me, he wanted me out of the way. I just hope that I get to tell the court what I experienced, and how it hurt.

'I would also appeal to his wife. She paints me as a manipulator who hooked  her husband. I think that's an insult - a dagger in my back.

'He made the first step in starting a relationship, and I had to bring it to a close. Let's reverse the roles, but don't tell me how seriously he should be punished.

'I leave that to the court, but while working out the punishment don't lose sight of the fact that he condemned me to pain, both physical and psychological, for life.'

Ms Lefranc said her son’s school friends now regularly mock her appearance, adding: 'Remes has also ruined my life as a woman. Who once to deal with the monster that he made me?

'I'm stared at on the street. Worse, I'm used as an example of what can happen to a woman who wants to put an end to a love affair.'

A 22-year-old woman is said to have been threatened by a boyfriend who said: 'Remember what happened to Patricia Lefranc?', said Ms Lefranc.

As well as psychological torture, Ms Lefranc said she was in constant physical pain, and all of it reminded her of the horror of the attack.

She said: 'When I look in the mirror, every fibre of my body reminds me of what happened. The doctors had me in an artificial coma for months.

'I lost the sight in my left eye, and hearing in an ear - my right ring finger was amputated. By the time I got to my eightieth operation, I stopped counting.

'But I know that I still have about twenty operations to go. The acid which he maimed me, is worse than a weapon of war.  It still gnaws at me.

'My nose is quietly shrinking away and will eventually be replaced by a prosthesis. That will be the last and perhaps most difficult surgery.

'For three months I will have to wear a mask to hide the gaping hole in the middle of my face. Only then can the final prosthesis be implanted.

'That mask must be removed daily for cleaning. No, I will not handle that - a nurse will be doing it.'

Remes has apologised for the attack, denying that he meant to maim her. His defence is that he did not realise the sulphuric acid he sprayed would have such a devastating effect.

Remes told the court how he started his relationship with Lefranc, who was the janitor of their block of flats, in 2009.

He said: 'I moved with my wife and children to the building on Avenue Sippelberg in 2006. Patricia was already living there. She was a janitor. At first we just said hello, that's all.

'Then her relationship with her ex boyfriend ended. And, in late 2008, she asked me two or three time to do small jobs in her house that she could not do herself.

'One day, at the beginning of 2009, I offered to go for coffee. We went to a hotel and our relationship began.' The case continues (Daily Mail, 2012).

Pakistani Former Dancing Girl Who Was Attacked With Acid Commits Suicide
March 28, 2012
Fox News

Abstract: Pakistani acid attack victim Fakhra Younus had endured more than three dozen surgeries over more than a decade to repair her severely damaged face and body when she finally decided life was no longer worth living.

The 33-year-old former dancing girl -- who was allegedly attacked by her then-husband, an ex-lawmaker and son of a political powerhouse -- jumped from the sixth floor of a building in Rome, where she had been living and receiving treatment.

Her March 17 suicide and the return of her body to Pakistan on Sunday reignited furor over the case, which received significant international attention at the time of the attack. Her death came less than a month after a Pakistani filmmaker won the country's first Oscar for a documentary about acid attack victims.

Younus' story highlights the horrible mistreatment many women face in Pakistan's conservative, male-dominated culture and is a reminder that the country's rich and powerful often appear to operate with impunity. Younus' ex-husband, Bilal Khar, was eventually acquitted, but many believe he used his connections to escape the law's grip -- a common occurrence in Pakistan.

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. Because the group relied mostly on media reports, the figure is likely an undercount.

"The saddest part is that she realized that the system in Pakistan was never going to provide her with relief or remedy," Nayyar Shabana Kiyani, an activist at The Aurat Foundation, said of Younus. "She was totally disappointed that there was no justice available to her."

Younus was a teenage dancing girl working in the red light district of the southern city of Karachi when she met her future husband, the son of Ghulam Mustafa Khar, a former governor of Pakistan's largest province, Punjab. The unusual pairing was the younger Khar's third marriage. He was in his mid-30s at the time.

The couple was married for three years, but Younus eventually left him because he allegedly physically and verbally abused her. She claimed that he came to her mother's house while she was sleeping in May 2000 and poured acid all over her in the presence of her 5-year-old son from a different man.

Tehmina Durrani, Ghulam Mustafa Khar's ex-wife and his son's stepmother, became an advocate for Younus after the attack, drawing international attention to the case. She said that Younus' injuries were the worst she had ever seen on an acid attack victim.

"So many times we thought she would die in the night because her nose was melted and she couldn't breathe," said Durrani, who wrote a book about her own allegedly abusive relationship with the elder Khar. "We used to put a straw in the little bit of her mouth that was left because the rest was all melted together."

She said Younus, whose life had always been hard, became a liability to her family, for whom she was once a source of income.

"Her life was a parched stretch of hard rock on which nothing bloomed," Durrani wrote in a column in The News after Younus' suicide.

Younus' ex-husband grew up in starkly different circumstances, amid the wealth and power of the country's feudal elite, and counts Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar as a cousin.

Bilal Khar once again denied carrying out the acid attack in a TV interview following her suicide, suggesting a different man with the same name committed the crime. He claimed Younus killed herself because she didn't have enough money, not because of her horrific injuries, and criticized the media for hounding him about the issue.

"You people should be a little considerate," said Khar. "I have three daughters and when they go to school people tease them."

In February, Younus said in one of her last interviews that powerful Pakistanis brutally treat ordinary citizens and "don't know how painful they make others' lives."

"I want such people to be treated in the same way" as they treat people whose lives they ruin, she told Geo TV over the telephone from Rome.

Younus was energized when the Pakistani government enacted a new set of laws last year that explicitly criminalized acid attacks and mandated that convicted attackers would serve a minimum sentence of 14 years, said Durrani. She hoped to return someday to get justice once her health stabilized.

"She said, 'When I come back, I will reopen the case, and I'll fight myself,' and she was a fighter," Durrani said.

Durrani had to battle with both Younus' ex-husband and the government to send her to Italy, where the Italian government paid for her treatment and provided her money to live on and send her child to school. Pakistani officials argued that sending Younus to Italy would give the country a bad name, Durrani said.

Younus was happy when Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy won an Oscar for her documentary about acid attack victims in February, but was worried about being forgotten since she wasn't profiled in the film, said Durrani.

Durrani said Younus' case should be a reminder that the Pakistani government needs to do much more to prevent acid attacks and other forms of violence against women, and also help the victims.

"I think this whole country should be extremely embarrassed that a foreign country took responsibility for a Pakistani citizen for 13 years because we could give her nothing, not justice, not security," said Durrani (Fox News, 2012).

Title: Acid Attack Victim's Painful Healing Process
October 11, 2012

A red, puffy and scar-ridden stretch of scalp cuts a bald, painful pathway through Tanya St. Arnauld's hair as she sits in her hospital bed.

Hair had been the 29-year-old's calling card as she beautified clients at a hair salon in the south-shore suburb of Longueuil.

It was all violently interrupted in August when St. Arnauld was doused with acid following an argument with her boyfriend.

Skin graft surgery is now part of the stylist's daily routine, brother Maxime Gosselin told QMI Agency on Thursday.

Huge chunks of skin are missing from her chest and arms, bridged by skin grafts.

The victim was assailed on the front steps of her apartment on Aug. 25 in an attack the presiding judge called "barbarism." A boiler that stored acidic concrete cleaner was sitting at the top of the stairs, and the scalding substance was dumped on top of the woman.

She suffered burns over 20% of her body.

Nikolas Stefanatos, 27, is charged with assault.

The woman who specializes in styling hair might have lifelong bald spots on the sections of her scalp that were burned.

Earlier skin replacement surgery on her scalp will have to be redone because doctors fear complications.

"Every day she tries to take it well, but she took it hard having to return ... for more skin grafts," her brother said.

"Her wounds aren't healing well; the doctors want to operate quickly."

Gosselin says it will take years to recover from the attack.

"She'll have to wear a burn suit, a  mask, do a lot of rehabilitation with a machine because she's no longer able to bend her arm. Her skin will have to be sanded down because the burns caused bumps."

He said his sister is concerned that Stefanatos, if convicted, will receive a lenient sentence.

"The maximum sentence he can get is 14 years," Gosselin saud. "My sister told me she'll have to live with this for the rest of her life" (SaulStar, 2012).

Title: Acid Cictim Tells Sowetan How Their Relationship Went Bad
October 12, 2012
Sowetan Live

A two-year love affair turned ugly when a North West man allegedly poured acid on his girlfriend, five days after he had doused her with petrol.

Sydney Mpolaisang, 44, of Mahikeng, appeared briefly in the Mmabatho Magistrate's Court on charges of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm and damage of property.

In another matter, he is also charged with contravening a protection order after the incident with the petrol.

Mpolaisang told Magistrate Seth Mmusi that he would not apply for bail.

Mpolaisang is accused of pouring acid on his girlfriend Lerato Matane, 28, on August 26.

He also allegedly damaged property belonging to her parents.

In the earlier incident, he had allegedly poured petrol on Matane, also of Mahikeng, after he was served with a protection order.

Matane, who was at court yesterday, said she was relieved that he was not released on bail.

She described him as "a quiet and lovely person who was very jealous".

Matane told Sowetan their relationship started to turn sour early this year when Mpolaisang started to beat her up, take her money and harass her at work.

"He would beat me just because I took long to come back from a shopping mall or because I came home late from work," she said.

Matane said after several of these incidents she went to the police for help.

She applied for a protection order, but that night her boyfriend allegedly doused her with petrol as she was walking on the street.

"I ran for help. All my clothes were wet, the petrol smell was all over me," she said yesterday.

Mpolaisang was arrested but released on bail five days later.

He then allegedly went to Matane's room in her absence.

According to Matane, he poured acid on her clothes and shoes and then waited for her to come home.

She said on her arrival a bucket full of acid was poured on her body.

Matane is recovering at home after she spent a month in hospital (Sowetan Live, 2012).

Title: Acid Burns Victim Katie Piper Addresses Liverpool Conference
October 13, 2012
Liverpool Echo

Inspirational burns victim Katie Piper addressed a Liverpool conference to talk about vital physiotherapy treatment.

In 2008 the model was the victim of an acid attack which left her with severe facial disfigurements.

Since the attack and after pioneering surgery in a French rehabilitation centre the 29-year-old has set up the Katie Piper Foundation – to support the rehabilitation of other burns victims.

She appeared at Chartered Society of Physiotherapy’s conference at the Liverpool ACC yesterday.

Katie told the ECHO: “People always think physios are more for sports injuries but actually they are as important as surgeons in recovering from burns.

“Treating a burn is multi-disciplinary and no one person can do it. You can have fantastic surgery but you need the physiotherapy too. It’s vital.”

Katie, who is fresh from appearing in Channel 4’s Hotel GB, said she used positive thinking to get her life back on track after the attack.

She said: “I’ve always been a positive person and I just thought to myself, I’ve survived and I’m not going to fight for my life so hard and then not live it.”

She added: “Recovery is psychological as well as physical and is all about self worth” (Liverpool Echo, 2012).

Title: Survivor Of Horrendous Acid Attack Accentuates The Positive
October 14, 2012
7 Days in Dubai

It wasn’t just the personal milestone that gave her a positive outlook, it’s an attitude to life that helped her through some unimaginable pain and heartache.

Katie was a young and glam aspiring model in 2008 before a brutal acid attack changed everything. She was lucky to survive the attack, after which she needed more than 100 operations to rebuild her face and restore some of her lost sight.

Although still severely scarred, her outlook is remarkable. She has just had published a book called ‘Start Your Day With Katie: 365 Affirmations For A Year Of Positive Thinking’.

The series of messages, mantras and sayings have helped her on a day-to-day basis and she wanted to share them with others.

Even at her lowest Katie felt the best thing was to stay positive. She says: “I’m a big believer in faking it until you make it and sometimes I’d act positive when I didn’t really believe it, because I thought, ‘Well, I’d rather spend my energy on being positive

than negative’.”

People would often give Katie words of encouragement and she says: “I’d put them on my phone so they’d go off as a reminder during the day.

“It really works because the more you reinforce something positive, it sort of saturates your world.”

Here, Katie shares five of her favourite affirmations from the book and explains why they’re so important...

Believe in Yourself
To reach a goal you must know what it is you want to achieve and believe in yourself that you can get there.

“I’ve applied this to so many things, such as setting up my charity [The Katie Piper Foundation, which supports people affected by burns and scars].

“I thought, ‘all I need to get to that point is belief that I’ll do it, and if I believe in myself then others will’. You can’t expect other people to believe in you if you don’t. I realised quite quickly that if I put a negative slant on things - saying, ‘I’ll never do this again, I’ll never do that’ - then quite often I wouldn’t.

Don’t Fear a Failure
Failures are milestones on the road to achievement. It is when you look back that you can see how far you’ve come. “If things didn’t go the way I thought they would, I’d tell myself that this is actually a good thing, as this is going to be my benchmark, the thing I look back on. Even the most successful person is going to have moments where they fall down but we can’t really appreciate success unless we have failures.”

Life is Short
Live every moment; make each one really count. “At a young age I realised how short life is and the importance of health. It’s made me look at my life and appreciate things. If there are things I want to do, instead of thinking, ‘Should I, have I got enough money or time?’, I just do it, because life is short.”

You can Handle It
We are never given more than we can handle, so hold tight to the belief that you can get through anything - because you can! “When I was really down I used to ask my mum, ‘Why has this happened to me, why has God done this to me?’ Mum would always say, ‘It’s happened to you because God knew you were strong enough and you could handle it’. It really made me think - nothing will be put on to us that we can’t cope with.

Nothing’s bigger than we are. I always hold on to this.”

Take the Leap
No matter how far away or how close your goal, the only way you will reach it is to take the next step towards it. “If you’re focusing on something, it’s only you that can get you there, so rather than just thinking about it and lusting after it, take whatever steps necessary to get closer to it.

“When I was thinking I want to get better, or I want to return to work, I realised that I had to do something to get there. There wasn’t a defining date for when I felt comfortable going out again, sometimes it was a case of taking 10 steps forwards, five steps back, but life is a constant journey, and I’m still on that journey now” (7 Days in Dubai, 2012).

Title: FDA: Parle’s Mango Bite Candy Contains Too Much Lactic Acid
October 15, 2012

According to reports in leading newspapers, the FDA’s Maharasthra division seized Mango Bite stocks worth Rs 2.36 crore. Following a recent raid on Parle Biscuits Pvt Ltd’s factories in Nashik and Raigad by its officials, the Maharashtra unit of the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has asked the manufacturer Parle Products, to recall the entire stock of Mango Bite candies from the marketplace.

FDA said that the candy was ‘unsafe’ due to excessive lactic acid, an ingredient not permitted under the Food Safety & Standards Act, 2006. The use of lactic acid has been banned due to its tooth-decaying side effects. ’We first seized the goods in Nanded. After that, we raided the factories in Nashik and Raigad. We confiscated goods worth 2.36 crore a fortnight ago,’ said K V Sankhe, Assistant food inspector (FDA headquarters, Mumbai).

‘The product is positioned as sugar-boiled confectionary. As per law, sugar-boiled confectionaries cannot contain lactic acid beyond permissible limits. This is the reason we raided the factories and seized the goods,’ he added

‘So far, stocks of the candy have been seized in Nashik and Raigad. All the food safety inspectors across the state have been alerted to carry out similar raids in their respective areas,’ said Mahesh Zagde, Maharashtra FDA commissioner

 Noting that lactic acid keeps the sweets from sticking, the marketing head of Parle Products, Pravin Kulkarni said, ‘Candies all over the world use it.’

Denying that the product has been recalled, Arup Chauhan, owner of Parle Products said, ‘The goods from some of the factories have been seized, but we have not yet got any further instructions from the FDA.’ ‘In India, there are some issues with the amount of lactic acid to be used in a product. We are trying to find out what went wrong. The matter will go to court. We will take a call on future course of action once the test results are out,’ said Chauhan (, 2012).

Title: New Foundation In UAE To Provide Surgery For Acid Attack Victims
October 16, 2012
7 Days in Dubai

The plastic surgeon who rebuilt the face of UK model Katie Piper after she was attacked with acid, has launched a Dubai-based organisation to assist other attack victims.

Dr Mohammad Ali Jawad was in the emirate, along with Dr Jaffer Khan for the unveiling of the Aesthetics International Charity Foundation, which will help people with disfigurements who cannot afford treatment.

Dr Khan, who founded Dubai’s Aesthetics International Plastic and Cosmetic Surgery Clinic, decided to donate five per cent of the clinic’s profits to the foundation.

He told 7DAYS: “We are doing more and more cosmetic surgery, and in the purest sense, that’s not what we were trained to do. We aim to support people suffering from disfigurement by providing not only financial support but also treatment from our team of surgeons.’’

Dr Jawad, who flew in from London for the launch, became well-known for his pioneering reconstruction work after rape and acid attack victim Katie Piper spoke out about her ordeal in an attempt to highlight the crime and help others.

In March 2008, Katie, who is now 29, was taken to the burns unit at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London where Dr Jawad worked.

Katie had been raped and stabbed by an ex-boyfriend then, two days later, had acid thrown in her face by a friend of her former boyfriend.

Dr Jawad, who had 16 years surgery experience by the time he saw Katie, said: “I took one look at Katie’s face and said to myself, ‘How do I deal with this?’ I was a respected plastic surgeon but I knew that I was in trouble.

“I’d never dealt with anything like this. Her face was melted, her eyesight gone.

“You can’t imagine the viciousness of the whole thing. All I could do was tell her honestly what the situation was and that I would do my very best.”

Piper went on to make several TV doc­um­entaries about her ordeal.

The publicity from her story led to Dr Jawad being asked to help acid victims in Pakistan, where about 100 women a year are subjected to acid ‘honour’ attacks.

His work was the subject of the Oscar-winning documentary ‘Saving Face’, which was shown at yesterday’s launch.

He said: “There was lots of interest because I was Katie’s surgeon. I was contacted at the Chelsea Hospital by Daniel [‘Saving Face’ co-director Daniel Junge] who said he knew I was from Pakistan and he asked me to come and do a documentary. This is how it started.”

Yesterday, Dr Jawad said the new initiative was his way of giving something back to society.

“I am not Bill Gates,” he said. “I don’t have millions to give away. This is a different kind of philanthropy. I can’t think of a better way to give something back.

“The need for reconstructive treatment is widespread across the globe, stemming from a range of causes, such as domestic violence, natural disasters, congenital birth defects and trauma-related injuries.

“As plastic surgeons working in this field we are able to give patients renewed hope and help them to overcome the battles they have faced. By travelling to countries such as Pakistan to perform reconstruc­tive surgery we are also able to share skills with medical professionals on the ground and improve education within the country.

’’ Girls in countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Cambodia are often targeted by men after rejecting sexual advances or offers of marriage, or by their families for bringing them into perceived dishonour. The documentary ‘Saving Face’ tells the stories of two acid attack survivors.

The first is Zakia, a 39-year-old whose husband threw acid on her after she filed for divorce.

The second survivor is 25-year-old Rukhsana whose husband and in-laws threw acid and petrol on her, then set her on fire.

Sickening Facts
At least 1,500 people in 20 countries are attacked with acid each year. Eighty per cent of those are female and somewhere between 40 per cent and 70 per cent are under 18 years of age, according to the Acid Survivors Trust International.

The Lower House of Parliament in Pakistan unanimously passed the Acid Control and Acid Crime Prevention Bill last year. The bill states that individuals held responsible for acid attacks will be given harsh fines and life in prison.

According to the New York Times, acid attacks are at an all-time high in Pakistan and increasing every year. The Pakistani attacks are typically the work of husbands against their wives who have “dishonoured them”.

In 2002, Bangladesh introduced the death penalty for anyone found guilty of an acid attack and laws controlling the sale, use, storage, and international trade of acids.

In 2006 Gaza group ‘Just Swords of Islam’ claimed to have thrown acid at a young woman who was dressed “immodestly” and warned other women to wear the hijab (7 Days in Dubai, 2012).

Title: Cambodia Struggles To Curb Violent Acid Attacks
October 16, 2012
DW News

The physical and emotional scars of acid violence last a lifetime. Many survivors have spent years waiting for their attackers to face justice. In Cambodia, an end to the violence remains elusive.

For 24-year-old Rith Sovann, the January morning started like any other.

She had been going through her morning routines - preparing breakfast and getting ready for work. Upon leaving home, a woman approached her - a co-worker from the garment factory. What came next would change Rith Sovann's life forever.

"She wanted to talk with me," Sovann recalled. "I said, 'We don't have anything to talk about.' So she shouted at me: 'You'll see the end result.' I looked up, and she threw acid at me."

It's been months since the attack. The searing liquid left painful scars on her body, and down one side of her face. Sovann receives treatment for her wounds at a quiet farm retreat outside the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh.

It's a refuge for people like her - men and women who have survived debilitating acid attacks. But it's not just the physical injuries that trouble her.

"I never go out. I can't face the public," Sovann said. "Before the attack, I would. When people looked at me, it was fine. Now when they look at me, they look at me like I'm strange."

Leaving a Mark
The emotional trauma is just one part of what makes acid crimes so horrific.

"It's not intended to kill the victim," said Ziad Samman, project manager at the Cambodian Acid Survivors Charity, or CASC. "Not many cases of acid attacks result in death. But it's this idea that the victims will spend every day walking around with these scars, marked for life."

Acid attacks are a global phenomenon. Countries like India and Pakistan are struggling to contain the violence. For the past decade in Bangladesh, more than 100 people each year have become victims of acid attacks. In these countries, the majority of targets are women and the problem is often perceived to be one of gender-based violence.

But here in Cambodia, that's not necessarily the case. Of the more than 300 cases CASC has recorded since the 1980s, the numbers of men and women attacked have been more evenly split.

"It's very difficult to pigeonhole this issue," Samman said. "A lot of it comes down to a lack of conflict resolution. People don't necessarily resolve their issues or their conflicts until it gets to the point where everything bubbles up and then they act."

Cracking Down
Though the motivations behind the attacks may vary, one crucial problem fueling the violence is that acid is often widely available and inexpensive. Advocates for acid burn survivors want to see the dangerous liquids strictly regulated.

Authorities have made moves to curb the violence. In recent years, courts have more frequently prosecuted perpetrators. And last year, the Cambodian government passed a new law specifically targeting acid violence. It mandates tough penalties, including lengthy prison terms, for those who are convicted. But authorities have yet to introduce sweeping restrictions on the sale of acid. Without this, advocates say, acid attacks will only continue.

For now, acid burn survivors here are trying to rebuild their lives.

Seven years ago, Som Bunnarith's wife threw acid on him in an attack that left him nearly blind. He said he knows he can no longer return to his old job as a soft drinks salesman. But as a peer counselor at CASC, he's trying to help others who are going through something similar to what he experienced.

Moving Forward
Bunnarith said he has made peace with his wife. The most important thing to him now is to provide a future for their three teenage children.

"This story is all in the past now," he said. "Now, I only think about trying to work hard and make money for my family. I don't want my children to be ignored and not get a good education. So, even though I'm blind, I keep trying, so that my children can study. That's the way I see it."

For others, though, the wounds are still fresh, and moving forward is a long process.

Rith Sovann feels fear when she thinks about her attack. Her assailant, the co-worker, was also someone her boyfriend used to date. "They loved each other a long time ago," Sovann said. "She thought if she couldn't have him, then nobody else could have him either."

Her case is still working its way through Cambodia's often inert court system. And the woman who doused acid on her face, for now, remains free. "I'm still afraid because they haven't arrested her yet," Sovann said. "Maybe it could happen again" (DW News, 2012).

Title: Acid Attacks Still Common In Bangladesh
October 23, 2012

Acid attacks are still common in many parts of Bangladesh and the majority of victims are women, most of them below 20 years old.

Dowry, previous enmity, refusal in love proposal or marriage, land dispute and illicit extra-marital relationship are the main reasons behind such heinous crime in the impoverished nation of about 153 million people, mostly Muslims.

The incidents of acid attacks rose sharply in the 1990s in Bangladesh as there was no specific law to deal with the crime and regulate the sale of acids.

The good news is that the numbers of acid attacks in Bangladesh started plummeting in recent years although the overall situation still remains a matter of grave concern.

The number of acid attacks had reduced by over 74 percent to 91 in 2011 compared to 2001 and 2002 levels when the figures stood at 351 and 494 respectively, statistics from the Acid Survivors Foundation (ASF) revealed.

"Some 73 people were victimized in 52 incidents of acid attacks so far this year," the ASF said.

The main goal of the foundation is to create awareness and prevent acid attacks and to provide victims with medical and legal assistance.

After watching a television documentary on acid violence in Bangladesh, an Englishman, namely John Morrison, established the foundation in May 1999 in collaboration with United Nations Children's Fund and some Bangladesh's development partners.

"The majority of victims of acid violence are women and young girls. If you look at motive behind the violence, a large portion is because of land disputes. And even if the women are not direct beneficiaries of land they bore the brunt of the attacks because they are easy targets," Farina Ahmed, head of program of ASF, has recently told Xinhua.

In some cases, she said, it is also because a young girl or woman has spurned the sexual advances of a male or either she or her parents have rejected a proposal of marriage.

According ASF, there have been acid attacks on children, older women and also men in recent years. Women who have survived acid attacks have great difficulty in finding work and, if unmarried ( as many victims are), have very little chance of ever getting married.

Fatima said that most survivors of acid attacks experienced social isolation which affected their self-esteem and economic status. Most of the attacks occurred in the remote places of the country where sulfuric acid is easily available for variable uses, according to Farina.

"ASF is providing holistic support to survivors of acid victims. We run a hospital, where survivors are able to get constructive surgery or plastic surgery, and offer physiotherapy and counseling," Farina added.

According to Fatima, the foundation also helps victims to return to normal life. "We provide economic rehabilitation to victims either by giving them income generating support or job opportunity and also assistance for them to continue their studies, " she said.

Aside from the ASF, some private groups, such as the Prothom Alo, Bangladesh's leading Bengali daily, also joined in the campaign against acid attacks. In 2000, the paper established the Prothom Alo Aid Fund to help victims of acid attacks,

Farina said that they have launched the "Use Water Campaign" as part of raising awareness against acid attacks.

Afrina Sharmin, a senior medical officer at ASF, said there is no medicine that can reduce the effect of acid immediately after an attack and the only option is to use normal water in the burnt portion of body.

"We are campaigning what people need to do immediately after an attack. This is very important to let people know what to do. We mainly suggest people to pour water on the body for more than half an hour to reduce damage," Sharmin said.

Apart from killing, acid attacks usually maim and disfigure most of the survivors, leaving permanent scars and even blindness that can make daily life difficult for the victims, especially if the victim lives in a place with poor medical care and no social support.

Bibi Mariam, 45, said that her entire family was a victim of acid attacks in 2008. She said the attack claimed the life of her five-month old daughter while Mariam, her husband, and another daughter were badly burnt.

Some of her neighbors with whom Mariam's family had a land disputes, threw acid at Mariam, her husband and two daughters when they were asleep in the wee hours of a night at their village home in Rosulpur Island in coastal Bhola district, some 300 km southeast of capital Dhaka.

Mariam said that the attackers were out on bail after 21 months of imprisonment and they are now again threatening her family unless they agree to withdraw the case that they filed against the attackers.

Another acid victim Ruma Begum, who has recently got admitted at the ASF, said she was attacked by her cousin after she had turned down his romantic advances.

"He has threatened me several times with acid attack after I refused his advances," Ruma said.

After the incident, her attacker, Abul Kalam, managed to flee and has not been caught by police (Xinhua, 2012).

Title: Amitabh Bachchan Moved By Courage Of Acid Attack Victim
November 1, 2012
First Post

Megastar Amitabh Bachchan is blown over by the grit and strength of an acid attack victim, a female from Jharkhand, whom he met while shooting for a special episode of his game show Kaun Banega Crorepati 6 (KBC).

“It has been a most traumatic and disturbing evening on the sets of KBC, where we have recorded the special episode called ‘doosra mauka‘ – a second chance, for those that are afflicted by horrendous acts of violence,” Amitabh wrote on his blog

“Sonali Mukherjee from Jharkhand, a pretty young girl was harassed by three boys in her neighbourhood and when she repelled their unwanted advances towards her, they threw acid on her face and destroyed it,” he added.

In the attack, Mukherjee lost her eyes, hearing and speech. She was accompanied by actress Lara Dutta, who works towards helping women in distress.

Though hearing about the ghastly act left Amitabh disturbed, he is amazed by the her courage.

“The three boys are out on bail. Sonali has through sheer grit and strength fought for her survival for nine years, has had 22 surgeries done to repair her face and still has a long way to go,” the 70-year-old said.

“Denied of justice, she pleaded publicly to end her life through the process of euthanasia. Denied of that too because euthanasia is illegal in the country, she decided to not remain silent and suffer.”

“She is now able to speak, hear, but cannot see. Her story is one of immense courage and fortitude. The nation salutes her as do all of us, but simultaneously hangs its head in shame for this dastardly act – an ugly reminder of the kind of evil that exists in our society,” he added (First Post, 2012).

Title: 'Under A Red Moon' Revisits England's 'Acid Bath Murderer'
November 1, 2012

A few years ago playwright Michael Slade was having lunch with a wealthy theater producer and she told him a great anecdote.

When she was a young American stopping in London on her European tour just after WWII, she and a friend were staying at the same hotel as a perfectly charming fellow named John George Haigh. They became friendly and he invited them on a day trip, but they had to a last-minute change of plans and moved on to the Continent.

A few weeks later Haigh was in the headlines: “Acid Bath Murderer Confesses!” The girls kept reading. Haigh’s modus operandi was befriending well-off victims, luring them to the country and killing them. He disposed of the bodies in vats of acid.

The world premiere of Slade’s psychological chiller “Under a Red Moon” is being co-produced by Dayton’s Human Race Theatre, where it played in October, and The Carnegie in Covington, where it opens tonight.

“Red Moon” stars a pair of Broadway veterans: Bradford Cover, who plays Haigh, has lots of stage as well as TV credits including “The Good Wife” and “Law and Order”; and Dee Pelletier, who was in the acting ensemble of “August: Osage County” and was recently seen in “Behind the Eye” at Playhouse in the Park.

“It intrigued me hugely,” Slade said by phone. An Emmy and Writers Guild Award nominee, Slade has written plays and musicals for adults and children has spent a lot of his career writing for television, including ABC’s “One Life to Live” and NBC’s “Another World,” “Passions” and “Days of Our Lives.”

Slade knew there was a play in the story he was told. He researched the newspaper coverage of the day, talked to psychiatrists and read Haigh’s long, detailed confession. Haigh’s “confession” and his insanity plea were the starting point for Slade.

“I suddenly realized – what he needs are a worthy adversary and high stakes.

“Can any serial killer be considered truly sane? And how does one prove oneself insane?”

“Red Moon” doesn’t follow Haigh’s murderous adventures. It imagines him in prison, being interviewed by a female psychiatrist (“with secrets of her own”) who will decide his fate – the asylum or the hangman?

Slade writes plays and novels for family audiences and his musicals include “And the Curtain Rises,” with music by Joseph Thalken, lyrics by Mark Campbell, which premiered at the Signature Theatre in Arlington, Va. in spring 2011 and “Bye, Bye Big Guy,” which premiered as part of the 2007 NYC International Fringe Festival.

“Red Moon” is definitely a departure for him, Slade laughed. Trying to get into a serial killer’s mind “there literally were days when I’d read over what I’d written and knew it was time to go out in the sun”  (, 2012).

Title: Acid Attack On Kangana’s Sister Inspires Ram Gopal Varma
November 2, 2012
Times of India

Ram Gopal Varma is helping his protege, Kishore Bhargav, put together Stalker, a movie that is reportedly inspired by the October 2006 acid attack on actress Kangana Ranaut's elder sister, Rangoli. In the film, Priyanka Kothari plays a victim of stalking.

According to our source, RGV heard about the incident when he was casting Kangana in Department. "RGV and Kangana met a few times, because she was to be cast opposite
Sanjay Dutt. But it didn't work out."

The source continues, "However, the director was intrigued by the acid attack on Rangoli. That's how he came up with the idea of a film on 'the phenomenon of stalking', as he called it."

When contacted, Rangoli said, "Kangana has never spoken to
Ram Gopal Varma about my acid attack. We're not aware of anyone making a film on the incident. If someone is doing so without our consent, we'll take legal action."

RGV said, "I'm not associated with Stalker. Kishore, who was my assistant, is making the film based on media reports on stalking" (Times of India, 2012).

Title: Obaid-Chinoy And Acid-Burn Survivor Zakia Receive A Joint Award
November 2, 2012
Express Tribune

Academy Award winning film-maker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, along with acid-burn survivor Zakia, will jointly receive the Glamour Women of the Year Award for the documentary Saving Face.

The award ceremony, organised by Glamour magazine, will be held on November 12 in New York, according to a press release.

“I am humbled to be given this honour. I hope my story instills hope in other women and gives them the courage to speak and stand up for themselves,” said Zakia, on being awarded her first international award for her advocacy on behalf of survivors of acid-related violence.

In appreciation of this joint award, Obaid-Chinoy added: “I am delighted to be sharing the award with a brave woman like Zakia. She embodies the resilient spirit of a Pakistani woman. Her determination to seek justice should be an inspiration for all.”

The annual award ceremony, started in 1989, honours extraordinary and inspirational women from various fields (Express Tribune, 2012).