This woman’s horrific scars serve as a cruel and permanent reminder of the moment her husband of 18 years flung acid into her face.
Nurbanu had divorced her unfaithful and violent spouse after catching him with another woman.
Eight days later, she was cooking at home in Bangladesh when he pulled up on a motorbike and doused her with acid, leaving her blind and disfigured.
The 36-year-old now has to endure living with her former spouse again after his mother forced her to sign an affidavit to have him released from prison following the attack.
Nurbanu’s husband of 18 years went into hiding after mutilating his former wife, but was caught ten months later and jailed for a year, according to a report on The Huffington Post.
‘His mother paid for his release on bail,’ said Nurbanu, who is from Satkhira in south west Bangladesh.
‘She made me sign an affidavit to have him released. She used my sons to convince me to marry him again.
‘People would think a husband would take care of a blind wife. But this doesn’t happen,’ Nurbanu said.
She also said her spouse continues to beat and threaten her, adding: ‘This is how my days go by.’
Nurbanu, who is unable to even prepare a meal for herself following her husband’s devastating attack, is one of thousands of women to fall victim to acid violence in Bangladesh in recent years.
Monira Rahman, CEO of the Acid Survivors’ Foundation (ASF) in Bangladesh, has worked with the victims of acid and petrol attacks in the country for the past 14 years.
THE BATTLE TO RID BANGLADESH OF ACID ATTACKS
Experts have blamed women’s low social status in Bangladesh for the frequency of the disturbing attacks.
Although there are instances of men being targeted, the overwhelming majority of victims are female, and while the numbers of incidents are falling, the devastating attacks still occur relatively frequently in the country.
The assailant throws nitric or sulphuric acid at the victim’s face, body, and/or genitals, resulting in permanent disfigurement and scarring.
A total of 59 attacks have already been recorded in the country this year, according to the Acid Survivors’ Foundation.
Of 118 survivors in 2011, 75 were female, and 13 of those were under the age of 18.
Common motives behind the violent attacks include land or financial disputes, marital quarrels, and bitterness over spurned advances.
In 2011 the Bangladeshi government announced new restrictions on the sale of acid in a bid to curb the number of attacks, and the number of recorded incidents fell from 500 in 2002 to 111 last year.
But campaigners say more must be done to boost women’s rights in Bangladesh in order to permanently rid the country of gender-based violence like acid attacks.
In a blog for the Huffington Post, she said the majority of the girls and women she had worked with had suffered at the hands of men who viewed them as ‘commodities’, and ‘believed they were justified in disfiguring them and violating their rights’.
Ms Rahman said the number of acid attacks in Bangladesh has fallen thanks to the efforts of the government, the charity, donors and international development organisations to address the problem, but added that there was much more work to do.
There were 111 acid attacks in Bangladesh in 2011, compared to 500 in 2002.
But Ms Rahman said ‘gender-based’ violence like acid attacks could only be completely eradicated when women in Bangladesh enjoy equal rights.
‘Only by empowering women and ensuring equality we will have a society which has zero tolerance for violence against women,’ she wrote.
The Bangladesh-based ASF has teamed up with the charity Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO), which supports the foundation by training local medical professionals in treating burns, setting up counselling services, and by training women the organisation supports to produce garments that help reduce scarring, which they can then sell to help them earn a living.
According to the ASF, the survivors of acid attacks have very little chance of finding work. Unmarried women who are victims of acid violence are also unlikely to marry in the future, it says.
Along with the visible scars left by acid, attack victims endure psychological trauma and, in many cases, social isolation and ostracism.