Jul 24, 2014

Balochistan: Worrisome Increase in Acid Attacks against Women

Within the past 24 hours, two new cases of acid aggressions were reported in Balochistan; making six young females the victims of such atrocious acts. Although it is uncertain why Baloch women are persistently targeted, these attacks definitely require more attention from the international community as women and families of the victims fear the justice system of the region and seriously lack proper protection. 

Below is an article published by The Express Tribune:

In the first attack, four women sustained minor burn injuries when they were attacked by two men outside a jewellery shop in a marketplace in the Kili Kamalo area on the outskirts of Quetta on Monday [21 July 2014]. The men used syringes to discharge the acid on the women’s faces as they emerged from the shop.

In both incidents, the perpetrators managed to flee the scene and police have not found any clues relating to the attack. No group has claimed responsibility for either incident.

According to SHO Mastung police station Nazir Ahmed Langov, 12-year-old Mawish Jamali and Sarish Jamali, 14, were shopping on Chandni Road, the main bazaar for women in the area, and were attacked on their way home.

“The victims received minor burn injuries and are in stable condition. The attack meant to terrorize the girls,” Langov told The Express Tribune. The women were admitted to Civil Hospital Mastung. Mawish has received burns to the face while Sarish has burns on her neck. Doctors said the girls would be discharged soon.

The modus operandi was the same in both attacks. Masked men appeared on motorbikes and used syringes to spray acid on the women and the girls. All victims said they had no enmity with any individual or group. They told police they had not received threats or warnings.

Officials in Quetta claim that it is difficult to trace the culprits as the families are not cooperating with the investigation. “The victims in the first attack refused to lodge an FIR and give complete statements,” Home Secretary Akbar Durrani told The Express Tribune. The two sisters attacked on Tuesday have not lodged an FIR, saying their family does not want to pursue the case. Activists say this may be due to mistrust in the justice system.

Durrani surmised that the attacks could be due to a family dispute. “Fanatical groups claim responsibility when they carry out attacks,” he said, pointing to the absence of any statement of responsibility from groups operating in the area. He said security has been beefed up across Balochistan near markets and bazaars since the first day of Ramadan. In recent years, the growing presence of religious groups has been observed by the people of Balochistan. In April 2010, three sisters aged between 14 and 20 years old were attacked as they walked from Kalat city to Pandarani village. Earlier in the month [July 2014], a group calling itself the ‘Baloch Ghairatmand Group’ claimed responsibility for a similar attack on two women in a market in Dalbandin city. The group had warned women to wear the hijab and not to visit markets unaccompanied by men from their families. In 2011, four female Baloch teachers of a private school were attacked with acid by unknown culprits in the Killi Alam area of Saryab.

Meanwhile, female employees in the area complain of receiving threatening phone calls or messages by unidentified groups. Recently, a group attacked a private school in Panjgur and warned the administrators against co-education.