“I was sleeping when I felt as if someone had thrown something really hot on me and after that it has been nothing but continuous pain.”
After the sudden death of her husband, Naieema was remarried to her husband’s elder brother, who was already married. In the summer of 2008, Naieema was sleeping in the courtyard of her house in a remote village in Muzaffargarh in the Punjab. She was attacked with highly concentrated acid by the nephew of her new husband’s first wife. The intention was clear: to disfigure Naieema beyond any recognition.
When Naieema was taken to ASTI’s partner in Islamabad, the Acid Survivors Foundation Pakistan (ASF-P), she was accompanied by her 5 year old daughter Samina. Both were given free physiological therapy and counselling, which has helped Samina understand and come to terms with her mother’s disfigurement.
After the incident, Naieema has been left with most of her body recovering from burns that have destroyed her eyes and left her face without a trace of any features. The mother of two girls, Naieema lives separated from her three year old daughter, who is too terrified by her appearance to be affectionate with her mother. Naieema now lives with her mother (who herself is deaf and mute).
This photo was taken moments before the bus departed from Multan, southern Punjab, on route to the ASF centre in Islamabad. Valerie Khan, director of ASF-Pakistan and Sardar Jatoi, the ASF-Pakistan field officer working in the Southern Punjab region, mobilised 12 acid survivors to embark on the 10 hour overnight bus journey to the ASF centre. Three expert volunteers from the UK – ASTI’s Burns Rehabilitation Team – were awaiting their arrival.
Local Plastic Surgeon, Dr Hamid Hassan, who treated Naieema said, “Her last surgery was in October 2008. We can’t leave her like this. I think we have to do surgery again, but I think it is a question of timing. With the passage of time, the skin will become more compressed, and at least will allow us to stabilise her in the condition she is in. Until then we will delay any surgery. I am very afraid for Naieema. The acid was obviously very strong”.