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Posted in: Islamic Gender & Religious Apartheid, Hijab & Burqa

Published on Nov 23, 2009 by Phyllis Chesler

Written for Pajamas Media

Under the Islamic Veil: Faces Disfigured By Acid


These photos show what happens to real women who wear the Islamic Veil. The photos depict horrifying hate and the unbearable suffering it inflicts upon female innocents. The photos were taken by Emilio Morenatti of the Associated Press. The text is based on work done by Nicholas Kristof—one of the few people at the New York Times whose work I am proud to quote. You may find them HERE. (Thanks to Yehuda for calling this to my attention).

What are we seeing?

The Arabization or the Saudi-ization of Muslims in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan is the hidden hand behind these acid attacks upon women. These poor girls and women have had their lives ruined; some have been forced to undergo surgery 20-30 times in order that they may see a little, or breathe a bit, hear something, perhaps in order to eat or make themselves understood. They look like…monsters. That was what their attackers wanted to accomplish. To render their faces into self-portraits of their attackers.

Why was acid thrown into their faces? The main reasons are because they dared to reject someone in marriage or because they wanted a divorce. The "jilted" suitors (or husbands) took their revenge in this fashion. If he can't have her, no man will; I will make sure that no man will ever want her." One young girl was gang-raped aftger which her rapists threw acid on her face. Another committed the "crime" of disappointing her father by being born female, not male. Many were disfigured as a result of a "family dispute."

Thus, the punishment for being born female, for exercising any will of one's own is, Saudi-style, the most horrible punishment. The men tried to make the women loathsome to humanity, to sentence them to painful surgeries, self-hatred, perhaps to lives lived in isolation.

Make no mistake. This tendency to disfigure women–even those who wear the Islamic Veil–is real. And, it might be coming our way if we do not stop the Wahhabi and Salafi influence which is funding our universities in North America as well as the Islamic religious schools.

For once, I will leave aside the question of what must be done and allow the photos to speak to you.

Irum Saeed, 30, poses for a photograph at her office at the Urdu University of Islamabad, Pakistan, Thursday, July 24, 2008. Irum was burned on her face, back and shoulders twelve years ago when a boy whom she rejected for marriage threw acid on her in the middle of the street. She has undergone plastic surgery 25 times to try to recover from her scars.

Shameem Akhter, 18, poses for a photograph at her home in Jhang, Pakistan, Wednesday, July 10, 2008. Shameem was raped by three boys who then threw acid on her three years ago. Shameem has undergone plastic surgery 10 times to try to recover from her scars.

Najaf Sultana, 16, poses for a photograph at her home in Lahore, Pakistan on Wednesday, July 9, 2008. At the age of five Najaf was burned by her father while she was sleeping, apparently because he didn't want to have another girl in the family. As a result of the burning Najaf became blind and after being abandoned by both her parents she now lives with relatives. She has undergone plastic surgery around 15 times to try to recover from her scars.

Shehnaz Usman, 36, poses for a photograph in Lahore, Pakistan, Sunday, Oct. 26, 2008. Shehnaz was burned with acid by a relative due to a familial dispute five years ago. Shehnaz has undergone plastic surgery 10 times to try to recover from her scars.

Shahnaz Bibi, 35, poses for a photograph in Lahore, Pakistan, Sunday, Oct. 26, 2008. Ten years ago Shahnaz was burned with acid by a relative due to a familial dispute. She has never undergone plastic surgery.

Kanwal Kayum, 26, adjusts her veil as she poses for a photograph in Lahore, Pakistan, Sunday, Oct. 26, 2008. Kanwal was burned with acid one year ago by a boy whom she rejected for marriage. She has never undergone plastic surgery.

Munira Asef, 23, poses for a photograph in Lahore, Pakistan, Sunday, Oct. 26, 2008. Munira was burned with acid five years ago by a boy whom she rejected for marriage. She has undergone plastic surgery 7 times to try to recover from her scars.

Bushra Shari, 39, adjusts her veil as she poses for a photograph in Lahore, Pakistan, Friday, July. 11, 2008. Bushra was burned with acid thrown by her husband five years ago because she was trying to divorce him. She has undergone plastic surgery 25 times to try to recover from her scars.

Memuna Khan, 21, poses for a photograph in Karachi, Pakistan, Friday, Dec. 19, 2008. Menuna was burned by a group of boys who threw acid on her to settle a dispute between their family and Menuna's. She has undergone plastic surgery 21 times to try to recover from her scars.

Zainab Bibi, 17, adjusts her veil as she poses for a photograph in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, Dec. 24, 2008. Zainab was burned on her face with acid thrown by a boy whom she rejected for marriage five years ago. She has undergone plastic surgery several times to try to recover from her scars.

Naila Farhat, 19, poses for a photograph in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, Dec. 24, 2008. Naila was burned on her face with acid thrown by a boy whom she rejected for marriage five years ago. She has undergone plastic surgery several times to try to recover from her scars.

Saira Liaqat, 26, poses for the camera as she holds a portrait of herself before being burned, at her home in Lahore, Pakistan, Wednesday, July 9, 2008. When she was fifteen, Saira was married to a relative who would later attack her with acid after insistently demanding her to live with him, although the families had agreed she wouldn't join him until she finished school. Saira has undergone plastic surgery 9 times to try to recover from her scars.


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