Bismillah. The following is from Caroline Bates, a human rights lawyer currently based in Islamabad. Please see the ASP website for more information: http://acidsurvivorspakistan.org, and consider making a donation.
The easiest way to donate is probably via the Acid Survivors Trust International – http://www.asti.org.uk, click the large DONATE button on the right, select online card payment and choose Acid Survivors Pakistan as the beneficiary.
My lovely friend Valerie Khan works with an amazing NGO based in Islamabad providing support and rehabilitation to survivors of acid attacks. As you may know, sadly, acid attacks on women are frequent and often result from refusal of marriage proposals or family disputes over perceived female behaviour. Sadly there is little help for survivors and reconstructive surgery and rehabilitation is rarely, if ever, available. Women are condemned to painful and often helpless lives, ostracised by their families and communities.
Acid Survivors Pakistan does great work in Pakistan supporting survivors. It provides the only rehabilitation centre in the country and has recently supported a survivor in taking her claim for support to the Supreme Court. Pakistan’s Chief Justice rebuked the Government for its failure to support victims or provide them with assistance to rebuild their lives. Sadly the Government has failed to respond. There will be a press conference in Islamabad this week to highlight the Government’s lack of response.
The NGO and rehab centre is now facing a funding crisis. Its annual running costs are small and its overheads minimal. It survives on costs of around Rs. 350,000 per month (less than £3,000). Whilst it has made various grant applications to international organisations these could take months to be realised. In the meantime it has sufficient funds for only two more months of work.
Acid Survivors is a transparent organisation and is willing to provide copies of its accounts to potential donors. It currently has the support of DFID to screen a documentary on its work to the Pakistani community in the UK and it hopes that organisations linked to the Muslim community in the UK and France will also provide its work with the opportunity to be screened (those of you with links to such organisations and to mosques will be pestered by me at a later date-you know who you are!)
If any of you have not yet decided what to do with your zakat this year then please think about making a donation to this very worthy work. If you are interested I can put you in touch with them directly.
You can see Valerie speak about the work of the organisation on its website (http://acidsurvivorspakistan.org) and I can also provide links to its short films. Please give generously if you can.