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Last updated at 15:39 BST, Monday, 23 April 2012

Acid attacks

Summary

23 April 2012

Campaigners in Pakistan say cases of acid attacks are increasing in most areas, even though tougher penalties were introduced last year. It is estimated that more than 150 women have acid thrown on them every year and many never get justice.

Reporter:

Orla Guerin

Acid attack victim, Shama

One among many acid attack victims in Pakistan, Shama.

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Report

She has been scarred for life with burns on fifteen per cent of her body. Her name is Shama, meaning candle. And like many other Pakistani women her husband doused her in acid. She was too proud of her beauty he said.

Shama:

"I feel pain at what I was and what I've become. All the colours have gone from my life I feel like I am a living corpse. I can't say anything about the future. I will try to get back to how I was. I have to work to build a future for my kids. If I can't I'll do what one or two other girls have done. They killed themselves."

In this hospital alone there are one or two new cases of acid attacks every week. The laws here have been tightened. Offenders can be sentenced to between 14 years and life imprisonment. But campaigners say most of these women never get justice.

This former MP who sponsored the new law says most attackers still get off scot-free.

Marvi Memon, MP:

"It's the easiest way to punish a woman because if the woman does not want to agree to what the man wants to do then you can just throw acid and destroy her entire life in one second and that's all it takes. And then even if he gets caught he'll pay the police off and he'll get away with it in most of Pakistan."

The government admits it needs to do more and says implementing the new law is a major challenge. Doctors told us many victims are forced to return to their tormentors, to the husbands or in-laws who disfigured them because of social pressure or money problems.

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Vocabulary

doused

soaked (with liquid)

corpse

dead body

tightened

made stricter

offenders

people who commit a crime

justice

fair treatment

scot-free

without receiving the punishment they deserve

implementing

putting into practice something that has been officially decided

tormentors

people who caused them to suffer

social pressure

strong influences from society