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Bangladesh woman forced to remarry husband who disfigured her with acid

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
November 29th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Disfigured after her husband threw acid on her, blinding and scarring her, a Bangladesh woman has been forced to remarry him after her mother-in-law made her sign an affidavit freeing him from prison after the attack.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Nurbanu had originally divorced her unfaithful and violent spouse after catching him with another woman. Eight days later, her husband pulled up on a motorbike and doused her with acid.

Her husband of 18 years went into hiding after mutilating his former wife, but was caught ten months later and jailed for a year.

"His mother paid for his release on bail," Nurbanu says, 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.

Her husband continues to beat and threaten her. "This is how my days go by."

Nurbanu is just one of thousands of women to fall victim to acid violence in Bangladesh in recent years. Financial disputes, rejected marriage proposals and domestic squabbles are common motives behind the attacks in this country.

CEO of the Acid Survivors' Foundation in Bangladesh Monira Rahman has worked with the victims of acid and petrol attacks in the country for the past 14 years.

Women's low social status in Bangladesh is blamed for the frequency of the disturbing attacks. Although men have been targeted, the overwhelming majority of victims are female. While the numbers of incidents are falling, the devastating attacks still occur relatively frequently in the country.

Typically, the assailant throws nitric or sulphuric acid at the victim's face, body or genitals, resulting in permanent disfigurement and scarring.

According to the Acid Survivors' Foundation, a total of 59 attacks have already been recorded in the country this year. Of 118 survivors in 2011, 75 were female, and 13 of those were under the age of 18.

Financial disputes, marital quarrels and bitterness over spurned advances have inspired the attacks.

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.

Humanitarians say that much remains to be done for women's rights in Bangladesh in order to permanently rid the country of gender-based violence like acid attacks.

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