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March 8, 2018

Woes of acid attack victim


March 8, 2018

Rawalpindi: Domestic violence has many faces and many stories. Blinded in an acid attack, Naeema Begum is one of those whose exceptional struggle for survival seems unending.

However, there was some relief for her this morning by the Lahore High Court Rawalpindi Bench, which dismissed her former husband’s fraudulent claim to a small property purchased by Naeema through financial support given to her in the past 10 years by the government, volunteers, philanthropists and an INGO. Her husband Amjad Hussain handled the purchase and became the sole owner. Initially he sidelined Naeema and her children and then divorced her.

“It was a trap,” says Naeema who shared with Amjad details of financial support coming in for her especially during Ramazan and her struggle to have a roof for her children. When basic amount was raised to buy a small shelter for the family Amjad proposed to Naeema and married her. The purchase was made but the house registry papers were in the husband’s name who swore on the Quran that it will be transferred in her name once her new ID card is made. Before the ID card was made Amjad divorced Naeema verbally. Their ‘nikah nama’ (marriage contract) still awaits cancellation from the local union council office a requirement of Dissolution of Marriage Act.

Three months ago Amjad filed a petition in the Sessions Court Rawalpindi stating that he is the sole owner of the Khyaban-e-Sir Syed property. He failed to give a money trail of the purchase as opposed to Naeema who has receipts of all donations given to her in the past years, informed her lawyer Raja Imtiaz Haroon. The human right lawyer is her legal counsel since the tragic happening in Oct 2004. A plea was also made in the High Court. The HC disallowed criminal law proceedings for vacation of property and directed that the case be taken up in the civil court. “In light of the HC directive this morning a case will be filed for cancelation of the fraudulent declaration of the (baynami) property’, the lawyer told ‘The News.’

The violence survivor was acid attacked by her first husband, Azhar Hussain, in October 2004. It was fatal and left Naeema’s face badly mutilated and eyes blinded. The case was widely reported in national media and was taken up by the govt. The acid attacker could not be arrested. Multiple skin grafting procedures were performed in leading public hospitals. Renowned eye surgeon Dr Quresh Maskati performed two eye surgeries on Naeema in 2006 and 2007 in Lahore and Bombay but acid damage to her sight could not be reversed.

Naeema has reconciled with her disabilities and blindness. She has come to terms with cruelty and betrayal in marriage. A recipient of several awards in courage the horror survivor is focused on rebuilding her life and of her children. Justice and redress will help her move ahead and give her the inner strength to fight pain and stress.

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