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Author Topic: Pakistan acid burn victims look for careers as Beauticians  (Read 2143 times)
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« on: Aug 18, 2008 03:40 AM »

Cruelty meets beauty for Pakistan burn victims
After acid attacks, women find refuge, independence as beauticians

  Portraits of brutality
The tales of Pakistan’s female victims of arson and acid attacks tend to involve a  crazed lover and end in a life of despair and seclusion for the woman. Thanks to the Depilex Smileagain Foundation, many are finding medical help, social support and careers as beauticians. Editor’s note: Slide show contains disturbing images.
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   Cruelty meets beauty for Pakistan burn victims

updated 11:29 a.m. CT, Sun., Aug. 17, 2008
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 some 70 percent 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.

The two instead became beauticians.

The women can't escape the mirrors or pictures of glamorous models that surround them, but they consider the salon a second home and a good way to make a living. The two also serve as reminders of that age-old lesson on beauty — a lesson that, needed or not, they learned the hard way.

"Every person wishes that he or she is beautiful," says Liaqat, 21. "But in my view, your face is not everything. Real beauty lies inside a person, not outside."

"They do it because the world demands it," Akbar, 28, says of clients. "For them, it's a necessity. For me, it isn't."

Liaqat and Akbar got into the beauty business in the eastern city of Lahore thanks to the Depilex Smileagain Foundation, an organization devoted to aiding women who have been burned in acid or other attacks.

About five years ago, Masarrat Misbah, head of Pakistan's well-known Depilex salon chain, was leaving work when a veiled woman approached and asked for her help. She was insistent, and soon, a flustered Misbah saw why.

'A girl who had no face'
When she removed her veil, Misbah felt faint. "I saw a girl who had no face."

The woman said her husband had thrown acid on her.

Misbah decided to place a small newspaper ad to see if others needed similar assistance.

Forty-two women and girls responded.

Misbah got in touch with Smileagain, an Italian nonprofit that has provided medical services to burn victims in other countries. She sought the help of Pakistani doctors. Perhaps the biggest challenge has been raising money for the cause, in particular to build a special hospital and refuge for burn victims in Pakistan.

Her organization has some 240 registered victims on its help list, 83 of whom are at various stages of treatment.

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 likely an undercount, since many cases go unreported for various reasons including out of fear of their attackers, or because the victims can't afford the legal bills.

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.

To her surprise, several told her they wanted to be beauticians.

"And I felt so sad," Misbah says. "Because beauty is all about faces and beautiful girls and skin."

She helped arrange for 10 women to train in a beauty course in Italy last year. Some have difficulty because their vision is weak or their hands too burned for intricate work. But several, including Liaqat and Akbar, are making their way in the field.

Images of beauty and brutality
The salon in Lahore is not the usual beauty parlor. There are pictures of beautiful women on the walls — all made up, with perfect, gleaming hair. But then there's a giant poster of a girl with half her face destroyed.

"HELP US bring back a smile to the face of these survivors," it says.

Working for the salon is a dream come true for Liaqat, whose mischievous smile is still intact and frequently on display. As a child she was obsessed with beauty. Once she burned some of her sister's hair off with a makeshift curling iron. She still wears lipstick.

Akbar, the more reserved one, also carries out many administrative and other tasks for the foundation. One of her duties is collecting newspaper clippings about acid and burn attacks on women.

Both say they are treated well by clients and colleagues, but Misbah says some clients have complained.

"They say that when we come to a beauty salon, we come with the expectation that we're going to be relaxed, in a different frame of mind," Misbah says. "If we come here and we see someone who has gone through so much pain and misery, so automatically that gives us that low feeling also. They have a point.

"At the same time, there are clients who take pride in asking these girls to give them a blow-dry, or getting a manicure or pedicure taken from them."

Sometimes they ask what happened.

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 lit 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 The Associated Press to contact their alleged attackers.

Liaqat and Akbar have undergone several surgeries and expect to face more. They say Misbah's foundation was critical to their present well-being.

"Mentally, I am at peace with myself," Akbar says. "The peace of mind I have now, I never had before. I suffered much more mental anguish in my married life."

'Strong girls'
Bushra Tareen, a regular client of Liaqat's, praises her work.

"I feel that her hands call me again and again," Tareen says. She adds that Liaqat and Akbar remind her of the injustices women face, and their ability to rise above them.

"When I see them, I want to be like them — strong girls," she says.

Liaqat is grateful for having achieved her goal of being a beautician. She worries about her eyesight but is determined to succeed.

"I want to make a name for myself in this profession," she says.

Akbar plans to use her income one day to support her little girl, whom she has barely seen since the attack.

"I'm independent now, I stand on my own two feet," she says. "I have a job, I work, I earn. In fact, I'm living on my own ... which isn't an easy thing to do for a woman in Pakistan, for a lone woman to survive."

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Oh Allah, Guide us to the Straight Path.

« Reply #1 on: Aug 23, 2008 04:32 PM »

Asalamualaikum wrt wb,

All praise be to Allah.

May Allah repay all the wrongdoers in the afterlife.  Unfortunately, these barbaric acts appear to be inherited by some ignorant people from the Hindu culture, that at one time sanctioned the Sati, burning Hindu women alive. 

All praise be to Allah, Islam liberated many people from these barbaric practices, but unfortuntately ignorance still exists, and the call to Islam has not reached most Hindus, and many Muslims lack proper Islamic education.

In the Middle East, Muslims have never heard of such barbarity as burning one's wife.

The solution is for people to work to revive Islam and abolish and annihilate barbaric traditions and sub-cultures that have nothing to do with Islam.

It is well known that the Prophet, may peace and Allah's blessings be upon him, forbade branding an animal on its face, and he was angry at the one who did that.  The face is the place of honor, and one should never strike the face of anyone, man, woman, adult, child, or even animal.  This is what our beloved religion teaches.

In the afterlife, all the wrongdoers will be repayed for what they did.

And Allah knows best.

Be merciful to those on earth, and the One in the Heavens will be merciful to you.
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« Reply #2 on: Nov 13, 2008 02:32 AM »

KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Two men on a motorcycle used water pistols to spray acid on girls walking to school Wednesday in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, blinding at least two of them, military spokesmen said.

An Afghan schoolgirl sits in a hospital Wednesday after being sprayed with acid in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

 U.S. Col. Greg Julian said Afghanistan's National Military Command Center told him that four girls were hurt in the incident. Two were blinded and remain hospitalized, and two were treated and released, he said.

The men escaped after the attack, and no one claimed responsibility for it, but Arab-language network Al-Jazeera said Taliban militants were suspected to be responsible.

The incident occurred about 8 a.m. near Mirwais Nika Girls High School in the Meir Weis Mena district.

Kandahar government spokesman Parwaz Ayoubi gave different figures on the number of girls injured, saying six were burned, one of them severely. He called the attackers "enemies of education."

Girls were forbidden to attend school under the Taliban, which ruled the country from 1996 to 2001, when U.S.-led forces removed them from power.

According to Al-Jazeera, the girls were attacked with battery acid. Two teenage sisters, one of whom suffered serious burns, were among the victims.

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"We were on the way to school when two men on motorbikes stopped next to us. One of them threw acid on my sister's face. I tried to help her, and then they threw acid on me, too," Latefa, 16, told the Qatar-based satellite network.

"We were shouting, and people came to see what was going on. Then the two men escaped," she said.

Latefa told Al-Jazeera that she was hurt, and her 18-year-old sister was in serious condition with acid burns on her face.

Al-Jazeera said schoolgirls in Kandahar can be recognized by their uniform of black pants, white shirt, black coat and head scarf.

The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan condemned the incident, as well as a suicide bombing that occurred near a government building hours later that killed and wounded several civilians, including women and children.

"These cowardly acts reflect how dishonorable the insurgents truly are," Gen. David McKiernan said in a statement posted on the Web site of the International Security Assistance Force.

"No one can honestly say they are fighting for the people, then purposefully attack innocent women and children," he said.
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« Reply #3 on: Nov 27, 2008 08:56 PM »

Afghan teacher wants acid thrown on attackers
Official: Militants were paid $2,000 to target students, teachers near school
 Shamsia, a 17-year-old victim of an acid attack by militants, is visited by friends at hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Nov. 15.

updated 2:23 p.m. CT, Tues., Nov. 25, 2008
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - A 23-year-old teacher burned in an acid attack on 15 schoolgirls and instructors wants the Afghan government to throw acid on her attackers and then hang them.

Kandahar's governor said Tuesday that authorities had arrested 10 alleged Taliban militants for the Nov. 12 attack in this southern city and that several confessed to taking part.

Gov. Rahmatullah Raufi said the men would be tried in open court, a pledge that pleased Nuskaal, a first-year math teacher who suffered acid burns on her shoulders.

"Those girls were simply going to school to get an education," said Nuskaal, who like many Afghans goes by one name. "My parents told me that security isn't good enough and that they were worried about me teaching. But I told my parents I won't stop teaching. I'm not afraid."

Attack sparked world condemnation
After the attack, President Hamid Karzai called for the perpetrators to be executed in public. Nuskaal said the attackers should have acid thrown on them first.

Men riding motorbikes squirted acid from water bottles onto three groups of students and teachers walking to school. Several girls suffered burned faces and were hospitalized. One teenager couldn't open her eyes for days after the attack, which sparked condemnation around the world.

Afghanistan's government called the attack "un-Islamic," while the United Nations labeled it "a hideous crime." First lady Laura Bush decried the attackers as cowardly.

The government charged Tuesday that high-ranking Taliban fighters paid the suspects a total of $2,000 to carry out the attack. The assailants came from Pakistan but were Afghan nationals, said Doud Doud, an Interior Ministry official.

Taliban denies involvement
Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi denied Tuesday that any of the group's members were involved.

Kandahar province is the spiritual birthplace of the Taliban, the hard-line Islamic militiamen who ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001 and are now waging an insurgency against Karzai. The area is one of Afghanistan's most conservative, a place where women rarely venture far from home.

Islamic extremists have attacked many schools to discourage girls from getting an education. Raufi, the governor, said students at the Mirwais Mena girls school didn't return to class for three days after the acid attack.

Girls were banned from schools under hardline Taliban rule, and women could leave their homes only if they were clad in a body-hiding burqa and accompanied by a male relative.

A push to improve access to education
Afghanistan has made a major push to improve access to education for girls since an American-led offensive ousted the Taliban following the Sept. 11 terror attack on the U.S.

Fewer than 1 million Afghan children — mostly boys — attended school under Taliban rule. Now, roughly 6 million do, including 2 million girls.

But many conservative families still keep girls at home.

Kandahar province's 232 schools serve 110,000 students, but only 26,000 are girls, the governor said. There are just 10 schools solely for girls, Raufi added.

Arsonists attack girls' schools
Arsonists have repeatedly attacked girls schools around the country. Attackers burned down a girls school in the northwestern province of Faryab on Sunday, said Gen. Kalil Andrabi, the provincial police chief.

Gunmen even killed two students outside a girls school in central Logar province in 2007, one of 236 attacks involving Afghan schools that UNICEF recorded that year.

The Afghan government has also accused the Taliban of attacking schools in an attempt to force teenage boys to join the Islamic militia.

In other developments, the U.S. military said Tuesday that its troops killed six militants and detained 12 others in two operations in eastern Afghanistan on Monday. The operations targeted militants associated with the warlords Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Jalaludin Haqqani, the statement said.

Afghanistan's intelligence agency said it arrested four people, including three religious leaders and a youth, for alleged involvement in suicide and other bomb attacks in northern Kunduz province. The ring was tracked down after a failed attack earlier this year, when the would-be bomber failed to properly detonate his explosives, the agency said.

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