Tag Archives: Goodwill

Acid-Violence: Who’s stopping it?

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Before Acid AttackAfter Acid Attack

Laxmi an Indian Woman: disfigured after an Acid-Attack

Author’s-Note:
We’ve had the great privilege to interview Islamic Help, a United-Kingdom based non-profit organisation, which has a very special project: to advocate against Acid-Violence. I’ve gotten to learn a lot from this very sinister phenomenon that Islamic Help is spreading awareness about, and I am glad that they’ve allowed me to interview the, so as to equip us all with the necessary knowledge to keep abreast of such an important issue such as this.

 

G..B: What is “Acid-Violence”?

I.H.: Acid violence is when an attacker uses acid or a corrosive or/and chemical substance to harm, injure, disable and scar, both physically and mentally, their target. It is usually a pre-meditated attack, and a majority of the victims are women and children.

G.B.: What damage does Acid-Violence ensue?

I.H.: An acid attack can leave a victim with mutilated skin, a disability and psychological damage. To give a small example from an actual case, an acid attack survivor who had acid thrown all over her face was left visually impaired as the acid made contact with her eyes. It left her with breathing difficulties as it melted the tissues in her nasal passages, providing very little to no space for oxygen to go through. She was unable to eat or breathe properly through her mouth as the skin which forms her lips was also melted together. This is just the physical damage. The psychological damage that a lot of survivors face is just as, if not more, damaging. Imagine looking into a mirror and not recognising your own reflection. Imagine having to hide your face in public because you’re disgusted with the way you look. Imagine being told that your face, your scars, your appearance makes people feel sick and children cry. And imagine all this being made worse by your own family, who can no longer stand the sight of you and therefore disown you and kick you out of the family home, leaving you to fend for yourself.

G.B.: Can you explain, possibly, how this tradition of Acid-Violence began?

I.H.: Revenge, anger, love, lust, greed, superstition. These are just a few of the motivations which lead to acid violence. It is one of the most reprehensible and horrendous of crimes that one human can inflict on another. How and why is it so easy to throw acid on someone? In many of the countries where acid attacks occur, acid is easily available due to a variety of industries that exist such as the leather trade where acid is used in the production of leather. To give you an idea of why people would turn to acid as a weapon, let’s look at another case. (Just to clarify these are all real cases). A man in Pakistan proposed to a girl who he liked, she refused the proposal, he felt that she had dishonoured him and if he couldn’t have her then no one else could. So he decided to ruin her beauty. He threw acid onto her face, so that in his opinion, she would be seen as ugly forever.

G.B.: How/why have Muslims, of all People, adopt such a barbaric practice?

I.H.: We cannot stress this enough – this is not a crime carried out by Muslims. Religion has nothing to do with it, Islam abhors violence. These are premeditated attacks which are carried out by evil people who are cowards. Acid attacks are not a “Muslim problem”. They happen where acid is accessible and where people want to use it as a weapon. For example, there was a well-publicised acid attack in London in December 2012 when a 21 year old woman was left scarred by a friend after they fell out. The attacker was found guilty last year. Also last year, the Bolshoi Ballet’s artistic director Sergei Filin was left disfigured and visually impaired after an acid attack in Moscow. Acid attacks are rare in Western countries – hence they gain greater publicity when they do occur, as the above examples show where stricter legislation means access to acid is limited. However, there was a tradition of acid being used as a weapon in Europe and the United States from the 18th to the mid-20th century. We’d also like to highlight that our work to help acid attack survivors has included Muslim and non-Muslims in places like Cambodia and Uganda.

G.B.: How long has Acid-Violence existed within the Muslim-World, or within the World, generally?

I.H.: We don’t know when the first acid attack was committed against someone – it probably wasn’t reported. However (to stress that it’s not a Muslim issue), acid attacks were common in Europe and the USA from the 18th century to the mid-20th century when acid (then known as vitriol) was produced on an industrial scale. Not only was it used in ‘domestic’ rows but labour disputes as well. Increased regulation and legislation limited access, so the number of cases in these countries dropped. But it became prevalent in South Asia, Africa and Latin America in the second half of the 21st century.

While many cases go unreported, we know that since 1999 there have been 3,512 reported cases of acid attacks around the world.

G.B.: What have the Leaders of the nations which Acid-Violence takes place done to help prevent the proliferation of Acid-Violence?

I.H.: Slowly but surely acid violence is becoming seen as more of a crime and laws are being passed to make it more difficult for attackers to avoid punishment. Laws are being passed to try to control the sale of acid so it’s not so easily accessible, but this needs to be backed with enforcement. However if you were to ask an acid attack survivor how they felt the government has dealt with their case, they would tell you something along the lines of, “The police didn’t believe me, I was provided with little to no legal aid, I can’t afford my medical bills and the government is giving me no assistance with them”. There’s a lot more that the governments of these countries need to do, to prevent attacks from occurring in the first place and to provide support to the survivors of acid attacks.

G.B.: What has the International-Community, generally, done to help prevent the proliferation of Acid-Violence?

I.H.: Well, since 2012, the International-Community has heard more about Acid-Violence, a lot of which is due to the documentary “Saving Face” which won an Oscar and two Emmy Awards. Directed by Daniel Junge and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, it features the work that we do with acid attack survivors. It documented the lives of acid attack survivors and the assistance they receive from Dr. Muhammad Ali Jawad, an internationally renowned plastic surgeon from the UK who works with Islamic Help to support acid attack survivors, by providing surgery and training future surgeons. However we feel that more needs to be done, that’s why we’ve launched our #EndAcidViolence campaign as part of Smiles Better week, (Smiles Better is the name given to our acid violence treatment and prevention programme) which has received a lot of attention worldwide but we need a lot more.

G.B: Do you honestly think/believe that enough is being done to help fight against Acid-Violence?

I.H.: No. A lot more needs to be done, more people need to speak up about it, and more people need to be made aware about it! That’s one thing our awareness programme does, it works with local community leaders such as imams and village leaders, we train them on how to advise their local community and congregation about the ill effects of acid violence, why it shouldn’t be carried out, why it’s such a harmful crime and what the punishment is, both from a legal perspective and religious perspective.

G.B.: Are Women/Girls the only victims of Acid-Violence, and if so, then why?

I.H.: Women and girls are not the only victims of acid violence, however based on the cases that are recorded they are a majority of the victims. A lot of the attacks are so-called domestic disputes involving a husband-and-wife or relationships between male and females.

One motivation of using acid is not only to cause immense pain but to leave the victim permanently scarred, so they are seen as unattractive.

G.B.: What could/would be your ideal-message to those who: know of this issue & yet do nothing help combat Acid-Violence, know of the issue & yet only do minimal efforts against Acid-Violence, know of this issue & yet are too afraid of consequences for standing up against Acid-Violence, know of this issue & yet really don’t have access to the tools to help prevent Acid-Violence?

I.H.: Work with us, contact us, support us and we will support you. If the subject was about rape, millions of men and women would speak out about it, because we know how horrific a crime rape is. It leaves a victim mentally scarred, it takes away from them something which is personal, something which is their own, it makes them feel defiled and abused, it leaves them living in a life of fear and in many cases feeling judged. In many cases, survivors of acid attacks feel exactly the same way, and they have to walk around with the physical scars as well. If you believe in Human-Rights, Women’s-Rights, justice, peace, equality, humanity, and all things good in this world, then you need to speak out against a crime which doesn’t receive as much attention as it should, you need to help us #EndAcidViolence.

To find out more about the work Islamic Help does and how you can support our #EndAcidViolence campaign please visit:

http://www.islamichelp.org.uk/SmilesBetter

The Causes & Dangers of Bullying:

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To put it very simply: Bullying is a form of Oppression & Allah clearly states, within His book how dreadful & harmful Oppression truly is, “”.(Noble Qur’an: Chpt.2, V.221; Chpt.5, V.32; Chpt.7, V.33; Chpt.8, V.25)

Let’s face it: in all-reality, we’ve all either been the perpetrators of or the victims of Bullying. This fact is completely undeniable: we have all either been picked-on, either as lil’-kids, or have ourselves, picked-on other lil’-kids. Bullying, for a very long time, within our Human-Experience has been an unwritten acceptable way to downgrade, berate, dehumanize other Humans, for the sake of our own personal-amusement and/or expression of how powerful we are, over others. This is something, however natural that many may view it is a very severe wrong, an evil, which plagues all of us, from the greatest among us, to the least among us: Bullying is the reason why people are driven to Suicide, Homicide, criminality, and all  sorts of (negative) vices. Bullying is the reason why people go to war against one another, why people feel that they only way to resolve their problems, issues, differences with others is via violence.

People are victimized by Bullying, all of te time, for various different reasons, some of these reasons are the following…

1. Religion

2. Ethnic-Background

3. Disabilities

4. National-Origin

5. Sexual-Orientation

6. Family-Ties

7. Socio-Economic Status

…and this list can go on, forever…

…I, myself, have definitely been on bot ends of the Bullying spectrum: I was once the kid that people would pick-on, because I was short, wasn’t as athletic as everyone else was, because my father had died when I was young, because I even had a father, while others, whom were envious of this, not having their own fathers in their lives, because my mom would keep me out of the street, causing many of my peers to taunt & tease me,accusing me of being a momma’s-boy, teasing me about not being able to stay-out as late as they did, etc. Then, I get a lil’ older, by this time, I’m in Junior High School/High School: from 9th grade, onward, I began being the bully, helping my friends from school rob people, from our own school, from other schools, kids, good-kids, whom were just like me: kids with hard-working parents whom loved them, whom sent them to school, to get educated, not to get robbed, beaten and/or dehumanized.

However, sadly, ironically, it was a classic example of how a typical cycle works:

Category# 1- Someone whom wants to be so popular, so relevant, so recognized, so important, as a result of some type of emptiness, within themselves, they feel the need to make others feel low-this is by far the worst of the categories mentioned. They have this arrogance: this posture that they are everything & those whom are not them and/or are not like them are nothing, that they have no value, as in the case of ash-Shaytan/the Devil, the ultimate-bully, whom refused to obey a command from Allah, because of his arrogance, and thus, pledged/vowed to Allah that he would, for the rest of his material-existence, bully the Human-Race, until we are misguided, just like he is.(Noble Qur’an: Cpht.2, V.34; Chpt.7, V.11-18; Chpt.15, V.30-39; Chpt.17, V.60-65; Chpt.38, V.71-81)

Category# 2- Someone with a chip on their shoulder, whom was never embraced positively by anyone, or was cultivated upon any form of positivity, takes things into their own hands, and sets out to make people feel just as bad, sad, negative, about themselves as they were made to feel, once upon a time.

Category# 3- Those whom are victimized by those in category one feel helpless, as if doing the same thing to others will make things right, or at least make feel more positive about themselves, which, really, never works.

Category # 4- Someone whom has been victimized by Bullying, yet, does nothing about it: they don’t resist Bullying, they don’t tell parents, teachers, grown-ups, friends, community-leaders, etc., they just accept being the victims of Bullying, without fighting back against it.

In the Bullying-Cycle, these respective categories play-out, along with one another & actually intertwine with one another. But, what I really wanna focus on is not how interconnected these categories are, but, more so, how many of these categories, if any, do we, as Muslims, we as Human beings, actually fall under. In other words, how many of us are a part of the Bullying-Cycle, how many of us fall under any/all categories, within the Bullying-Cycle? It’s a serious-question, which all of us, as Muslims, People of Conscious, People of Consequence, Human beings, etc., must answer for ourselves. Then, if our answers bring us to the conclusion that we fall under one or all of the categories, of the Bullying-Cycle, then we must ask ourselves, “How did I even become affected by the Bullying Cycle?” “Why did I consciously decide to bully someone/anyone, regardless to whether I, myself, were ever victimized by Bullying?” and “Why did I not resist being a Bully and/or why did I not resist being bullied?”

Granted, none of these questions are very easy to answer, depending upon the individual, of course. But, still, each & ever one of those questions has an answer, an intelligent answer, and we all have an obligation to Allah, the Creator/Lord of the Universe, then, ourselves, then, to all those victimized by Bullying, to answer these questions, honestly/accurately. And, when we don’t stand-up, to our own demons, within us, or in our pasts & begin to deal with the reality which surrounds Bullying, as well as its innumerably (negative) consequences, the damage to ourselves, our families/loved-ones, our friends/neighbors, classmates, and all of Humanity, as we know it could be very well rendered hopeless in salvaging what’s left of our already depleting sense of Humanity, towards our fellow Man.

I choose to end with this: from this day forward, whenever/wherever you see Bullying taking place, we must stop it, in any Humanway possible, as Muhammad (Peace be upon him) has told us that “Whomever witnesses wring/oppression, he must eliminate it by his hand; if he’s not able, then, he must eliminate it by his speach/words; if he is not able, then, he must rsent it internally (within his heart). However, that (internal hatred for wrong/oppression) is the lowest (level) of Faith.”. And there is also this statement of Allah that Muhammad quotes, “Oh, My Slaves (Property/Creation)!!! Verily, I’ve even made Oppression prohibited against Myself, as well as between you all. So,do not oppress one another.”.(an-Nawawi)

Gareth Bryant/2013