A Woman Turned Down a Pakistani Man’s Marriage Proposal. He Set Her on Fire.

A jilted wannabe husband in Pakistan decided to take revenge on the woman who spurned him — with gasoline and a match.

A Christian girl was set ablaze by a Muslim man in Sialkot for “refusing to renounce her faith and marry him,” Pakistan Today has learned.

Asma Masih, a 25-year-old domestic worker, didn’t care for the advances of a suitor named Rizwan Gujjar. Religion played a part; Masih didn’t want to give up her Christian faith and convert to Islam. That enraged Gujjar, who showed up at the house of her employer, doused her in gasoline, and burned over 80 percent of her body.

According to Pakistan Today, she is in critical condition. Gujjar was arrested and gave a full confession.

This kind of obscene brutality happens frequently in India, Pakistan, and elsewhere, though usually sans the Christian/Muslim twist. The Express Tribune reports that a couple of days before Gujjar’s crime,

A woman was attacked with acid, with two others also being injured, in Gujrat’s Dang district, for turning down a marriage proposal. The victims, students of [the] University of Gujrat, were standing at a bus stop when three men on a motorcycle hurled acid at them. … The victims were taken to Bhatti Shaheed Hospital’s burn unit, where two were said to be in critical condition.

According to one of the victims, her uncle Abdul Qadeer along with his son and friend Hussam Owais threw acid on her and her friends. Upon the girl’s identification [of the perpetrator], Owais was taken into custody by the police [the other two suspects remained on the lam]. According to Dang district’s Station House Officer, the victim’s uncle attacked her for turning down a marriage proposal.

These kinds of events are so common that the newspaper writes, almost offhandedly,

This is the third acid attack incident to take place in Gujrat the past month.

The wounds that result from the assaults are invariably horrific and disfiguring. A Bangladeshi victim told a reporter,

“The first time the bandage came off I didn’t see my face. But then after a few minutes I saw, and was just screaming, ‘Who is this, who is this, is it me?’

In rare cases, the roles are reversed and it is a woman who seeks revenge against a male love interest for rejecting her. In 2016, 23-year-old Pakistani man Sadaqat Ali died following the injuries he sustained when a woman identified only as Shameera, 29, threw acid on him. She received the death penalty.

Similar crimes have been gaining in number all over the world, including in the United Kingdom. The Australian site news.com.au reports:

Acid attacks that melt the faces off victims in an instant are on the rise globally. The horrifying trend has few barriers with offenders attacking targets in their homes and on streets in the UK, France, Bangladesh, India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Cambodia and other places.

The attacks are particularly common in South Asia, where male attackers use the weapon to disfigure women as a form of punishment or control. But London is fast on the region’s heels and has, in recent times, earned the unenviable title of ‘acid attack capital of the world‘….although Dhaka, in Bangladesh, is reportedly home to the most acid attacks each year with an average of one woman doused in chemicals each week.

A close-up of burn victim Asma Masih in the hospital is here. It’s not for the faint of heart. But even more excruciating are these portraits of women who survived acid attacks. We see their eyes burned away, their facial skin melted into neck and shoulders, their noses seared off to leave just bone and cartilage. It’s almost beyond belief that human beings can do this to each other, and yet it happens with ever-greater frequency. In most cases, religion and a centuries-old patriarchal culture appear to be the twin driving forces.

One case I won’t soon forget occurred in Pakistan in 2012, when a 15-year-old girl, Anusha Zafar, was killed with acid for “bringing dishonor to her family.” Two people were soon in custody: her Muslim mother and father. They’d told her not to look at boys, they explained. When, one fateful day, Anusha snuck a glance anyway, the parents beat her, held her down, poured acid over her, and didn’t take her to the hospital until the following morning. The mother declared afterwards that it was the girl’s “destiny” to die that way.

(Image via Shutterstock)

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