Pakistani couple arrested over acid attack on daughter
4 November 2012 Last updated at 22:55 GMT Help
A couple, in Pakistan, arrested on suspicion of killing their 15-year old daughter with acid have told the BBC they feared she would bring dishonour on their family.
The couple were arrested in Pakistan-administered Kashmir this week, following the death of their daughter Anusha, who had burns on 60% of her body.
Orla Guerin reports.
Viewers may find some of the details in this report disturbing
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Pakistan girl ‘fated’ to die in acid attack: mother
ISLAMABAD (AFP) – A Pakistani mother who killed her teenage daughter by dousing her with acid for looking at a boy has told the BBC it was the girl’s destiny to die in this way.
Police in Pakistan-administered Kashmir arrested Mohammad Zafar and his wife Zaheen for the October 29 attack on their daughter Anusha, 15, who died in hospital two days later after suffering horrific acid burns.
So-called “honour” attacks are common in deeply conservative Pakistan. Rights activists say more than 900 women were murdered last year after being accused of bringing shame on the family in some way.
Speaking from their police cells, the father told the BBC they had warned Anusha before about looking at boys, while the mother described how her daughter had begged for forgiveness.
“She said, ‘I didn’t do it on purpose, I won’t do it again,” the mother, whose own arm bore an injury from the acid, told the BBC.
“By then I had thrown the acid. It was her destiny to die this way.”
The parents waited two days to take Anusha to hospital. A doctor told AFP the teenager arrived in a “very critical condition” with almost 70 percent burns.
Then COME fears of PUNISHMENT but still no fear of Mullah
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MULLAH control = * HRCP says nearly 600 of 943 women killed for ‘honour’ last year were accused of ‘illicit relations’
Pakistan acid attack parents speak of remorse
* HRCP says nearly 600 of 943 women killed for ‘honour’ last year were accused of ‘illicit relations’
KHOI RATTA: A Pakistani couple who killed their daughter by dousing her in acid for looking at boys spoke on Tuesday of their regret at the attack which has highlighted the ‘honour killings’ that cost hundreds of women their lives each year.
The parents threw acid over 15-year-old Anusha at their home in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) on Monday last week after seeing her looking at boys. The girl died in agony two days later after suffering 70 percent burns, according to doctors.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said nearly 600 of the 943 women killed for ‘honour’ last year were, like Anusha, accused of ‘illicit relations’ and many were raped or even gang-raped before they were murdered.
Out of the 943, only 20 were given medical treatment before they died, according to the commission.
Many killings are passed off as suicide and fail to make headlines, but Anusha’s death came less than a month after Taliban extremists tried to murder schoolgirl activist Malala Yousafzai, prompting worldwide condemnation.
Both parents were arrested on murder charges last week.
Anusha’s mother Zaheen Akhtar, speaking from her police cell in Khoi Ratta, 140 kilometres away from Muzaffarabad, said she feared for the future of the rest of her children.
“I deeply regret my action. I am repenting as I should not have done this. She was very innocent,” the 42-year-old mother of eight told AFP.
“My remaining children, including four girls and two boys, all under 10 years of age, have been left alone and they have nobody out there to look after them,” she said.
Akhtar said she and husband Muhammad Zafar had feared Anusha would follow in the footsteps of her elder sister.
They married the elder sister off at 16 “because people had been talking about her bad character” and she had cut off contact after moving to Karachi with her husband.
Anusha, a promising and popular student, had committed the crime of looking at two boys riding a motorbike outside her home in Saidpur Phelan.
House painter Zafar, 53, said he became enraged and beat Anusha before his wife threw acid over her, but now he was haunted by memories of the attack.
“We were upset by the character of our elder daughter and feared that Anusha might follow in her footprints,” he said.
“Anusha’s mother should not have done this. I cannot sleep and whenever I shut my eyes, I see Anusha’s burnt face.”
The parents waited two days to take Anusha to hospital, but Zafar insisted this was simply because they could not afford to take her until a local doctor gave him some money.
Local police official Tahir Ayub said there was no truth in the parents’ suggestion that Anusha’s character had been questioned.
“She was very innocent. They did this because of sheer backwardness,” he told AFP.
Pakistan’s parliament last year adopted tougher penalties for acid attacks, increasing the punishment to between 14 years and life, and a minimum fine of one million rupees.
But attacks to save what is seen as family honour remain a particular problem in poor and rural areas of Pakistan.
In the absence of material wealth, concepts of honour and preserving the family’s good name are highly valued.
Women are often treated as second-class citizens and even the slightest transgression that might bring the family’s name into disrepute can lead to brutal punishment.
Police officer Ayub said Anusha was the third ‘honour killing’ in his district in the past month. A 40-year-old woman was burned to death by her husband and a 25-year-old killed by her brother – both for suspicion of ‘illicit relations’, like Anusha.
With their big sister dead and their parents locked up, the couple’s six remaining children wonder not about who will defend the family honour, but who will look after them.
“We were asleep when this happened and only came to know about it the next morning,” one of the bewildered youngsters told AFP at the family home. afp
Pakistani Taliban target female students with acid attackBy Shaan Khan, CNNNovember 3, 2012 — Updated 1528 GMT (2328 HKT)STORY HIGHLIGHTS
- Two girls are left with severe burns to their faces after an acid attack on a college van
- The Pakistani Taliban say any girl seeking an education will be targeted in the same way
- A boy is also shot in the attack by “extremists,” a local official says
- Acid attacks have been used in Pakistan to punish women for alleged dishonor
Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) — It’s the latest cruel tactic in the Pakistani Taliban’s battle to stop girls and women from getting an education: acid thrown in their faces to scar them for life and deter others from following in their footsteps.
A doctor who treated the victims of an acid attack on a college van in the city of Parachinar in northern Pakistan last month told CNN that two girls had been left with severe burns to their faces.
The Pakistani Taliban have taken responsibility for the attack in threatening pamphlets distributed around the city. They also warn local girls against going to school, Dr. Shaban Ali said.
“We will never allow the girls of this area to go and get a Western education,” said Qari Muhavia, the local Pakistani Taliban leader, when contacted by CNN by telephone.
“If and when we find any girl from Parachinar going to university for an education we will target her (in) the same way, so that she might not be able to unveil her face before others,” Muhavia said.
The Pakistani Taiban’s violent campaign to stop girls from getting an education was brought to international attention early last month when gunmen in the Swat Valley attacked another van, this time carrying schoolgirl education activist Malala Yousufzai. She is in a British hospital recovering from a gunshot to the head.
Shahab Uddin, a local government official from Kurram Agency in Pakistan’s northern tribal belt, said the acid attack was the latest method used to terrorize young girls and deter them from going to school.
Fifteen students, boys and girls, from Kohat University were on their way home to Parachinar when unknown “extremists” stopped the vehicle and threw acid at the girls and shot one of the boys, according to Uddin.
Two girls, Zahida and Nabila, and one more boy had suffered burns, Uddin said, while Mohammad Ali, a fourth boy, was the student who was shot.
“After throwing acid on the students the assailants opened fire on the van,” Uddin said.
He said the girls who were targeted “are alive and out of danger now, but their faces are badly scarred.”
Ali, of the district headquarters hospital, confirmed that four students were brought into the emergency room for treatment, three with acid burns and one with a bullet wound.
“We are all graduate students studying in the master’s program, and we were coming back home after taking our exams,” one of the girls who was targeted told CNN under condition of anonymity.
“We don’t know who the attackers were, but when our vehicle reached Doranai they stopped us and threw acid on our faces … now we are scared of going back to our studies,” said another girl, who also asked not to be named because she didn’t have permission from her family to speak.
“Other passengers who were sitting in the vehicle were also wounded, but they were not as serious as Zahida and Nabila,” she said.
Acid throwing is frequently used as a weapon in Pakistan to punish women for acts that allegedly bring dishonor to the family, or just to enact revenge.
Another recent acid attack in Pakistan resulted in the death of a 15-year-old girl, Anwasha. She was allegedly attacked by her parents for engaging in illicit relations with a boy, according to Tahir Ayub, a senior police official.
The 15-year-old girl suffered severe burns on her face and chest, but her parents initially refused to get her medical help, Ayub said. She was eventually taken to a hospital a day later and died from her injuries.
“Her father said she wasn’t coming to her senses so the parents threw acid on her to save their honor,” Ayub told CNN.
Anwasha’s mother claimed she had seen the boy and girl secretly meet and had seen her frequently speaking on a cell phone, Ayub said.
The parents, who live in a suburban village outside the Kashmiri city of Muzaffarabad, are in police custody, Ayub said.
The Taliban in Afghanistan also have used acid attacks against girls to discourage them from going to school. The victims are left to cope with a disfigurement that is shameful in their culture and is likely to impact their ability to have a husband and family.
Pakistan to honor girls injured in Malala attackFrom Shaan Khan, CNNNovember 3, 2012 — Updated 1509 GMT (2309 HKT)
Malala’s friend: No regretsSTORY HIGHLIGHTS
- Kainat Riaz Ahmed and Shazia Ramzan are to be honored for bravery, a minister says
- The Sitara-e- jurrat, or star of courage, is the third highest military award in Pakistan
- The girls were injured along with Malala Yousufzai in an attack on their school van
- Malala’s efforts to ensure girls’ rights to education have won international acclaim
Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) — Two Pakistani girls who were injured in an attack that nearly took the life of their classmate, schoolgirl activist Malala Yousufzai, are to be honored with a medal of courage, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said Saturday.
Kainat Riaz Ahmed and Shazia Ramzan were both hurt in the ambush on October 9, when armed thugs stopped their school van in the Taliban-held Swat Valley.
The medal, known as Sitara-e- jurrat, or star of courage, is the third highest military award in Pakistan and is not normally given to civilians.
The militants’ target, Malala, was well-known for her efforts to encourage her fellow Pakistanis to stand up to the Taliban, who have been trying to push girls from classrooms.
The attack prompted anger against the Taliban and an outpouring of support for Malala, both in Pakistan, where thousands rallied in her name, and internationally.
Speaking to CNN from her hospital bed a week after the attack, Kainat, who was shot in the upper right arm, echoed Malala’s message.
“I want to tell all the girls to continue their mission to get an education,” Kainat told CNN.
“Girls’ education here is more important than boys’ because boys can do any sort of work. However, girls can’t just do any sort of job. Girls must have respectful jobs so that they can feel secure.”
And the 16-year-old said she had no regrets about defying a group that wants to stop girls from learning. “God willing, I will continue my education,” she said.
On Monday, Malik visited the British hospital where Malala was flown for treatment days after she was shot in the head.
She has made good progress since her transfer, but medical staff have said she has a long road ahead to a full recovery. She is expected to undergo reconstructive surgery to her skull once she is strong enough.
Malik said he hoped Malala would recover soon and that her family would support her in this difficult time. The family is not settling in the United Kingdom but remains there while Malala is recovering, he added.
Malik said Saturday that the government was very close to catching Ihsanullah Ihsan, the spokesman for the Pakistan Taliban.
The Taliban, who claimed responsibility for the attack, issued a statement online saying that if Malala lived, they would come after her again.
Police said this week they suspect two boys of being behind the attack but did not name them. They are also seeking a man they say drove the youths to the van.
Malik identified the adult suspect as Attah Ullah Khan, 23, but he did not name the boys. Khan is a masters’ chemistry student, police said.