The New York Times recently carried a report on the increasing number of instances in Pakistan where violent men resort to acid attacks on women for mere subjugation, where the victims are helpless, and the perpetrators go scot-free. Unbelievably tragic, yet terribly true.
Naeema Azar, whom Nicholas Kristoff interviewed, and who had once been an attractive, self-confident Pakistani real estate agent, had acid thrown at her, blinding her and burning most of her face.
Shahnaz Bukhari, an activist who founded an organization to help such women, has helped her, the Daily Times reported.
Naeema's husband, Azar Jamsheed, who disfigured her, escaped and has never been arrested.
Kristoff points out that acid attacks and wife burnings are common in parts of Asia because the victims are the most voiceless in these societies: they are poor and female.
Since 1994, Bukhari has documented 7,800 cases of women who were deliberately burned, scalded or subjected to acid attacks, just in the Islamabad area.
Kristoff writes, "The most haunting part of my visit with Azar, aside from seeing her face, was a remark by her 12-year-old son, Ahsan Shah, who lovingly leads her around everywhere."
"He told me that in one house where they stayed for a time after the attack, a man upstairs used to beat his wife every day and taunt her, saying: 'You see the woman downstairs who was burned by her husband? I'll burn you just the same way'," Kristoff added.