ISLAMABAD     -   Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) Chairperson Nasreen Azhar on Saturday said that the country needed strict laws, and more social support to eradicate incidents of acid throwing from the society and help survivors heal physically as well as psychologically.

In her exclusive interview with APP, she said although cases of acid throwing had dropped over the past three years, but we still needed to open more acid burn units in all rural areas of the country to facilitate female burn victims.

“As per the figures compiled by the HRCP, the number of acid burnt women has dropped by 50% to 40%,” she said, and added, “Punjab is the hub of acid-related violence with 80% to 85% of the attacks reported from the province, followed by Sindh, KP, Balochistan, Islamabad and Kashmir.”

She regretted that the previous Punjab governments kept promising to legislate on the matter, but no progress was made.

She hoped that the present government would table the bill in the parliament to deal with the crime.

She said HRCP was providing legal assistance to all victims of the acid attacks free of cost, and had launched different mass awareness drives through its platforms to sensitize public on this issue.

Nasreen said it was crucial to highlight the human rights issues in Pakistan, and stressed the need for prioritizing the empowerment of vulnerable sections of the population.

HRCP chairperson also emphasised that laws relating to domestic violence be implemented in true letter and spirit in order to put an end to incidents of violence against women in villages as well as in cities.

She regretted that cases of stove burnings, which were in many instances an attempt to murder or injure women, mostly go unreported.

“Hundreds of women fall victim to this menace every year,” she explained.

She said that approximately 65 percent victims of incidents of acid burning were women and girls while 15 percent were children.

“Around 80 percent of the survivors earn less than Rs8,000 per month,” Nasreen elaborated.

She also appealed to the government to dismiss those police officers who did not have the courage to arrest the influential people, usually involved in throwing acid on women, and always discouraged female visitors to the police stations by using abusive language.