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article imageWoman Horribly Disfigured From Acid Attack

By geozone     Mar 31, 2007 in Crime
It is a crime that has shocked the nation of Ethiopia. A young woman's life dramatically altered forever when a stalker tossed sulphuric acid in her face.
Twenty-one-year-old Kamilat Mehdi, described as a woman with a bright future ahead of her, knew her assailant. He had stalked her for many years.
According to Kamilat's brother, Ismael: "He bothered her for a long time — at least four years. He gave her a hard time but she didn't tell the family for fear that something would happen to them. He was always saying he would use a gun on them."
Instead his weapon of choice was acid and he used it on Kamilat and her two sisters, Zeyneba and Zubyeda. The women were walking home one night from their parents' shop when a man came up to them in the streets. Kamilat said he looked like he was drunk but he was not drunk. The man forced the women down a dark alley. It was there another man suddenly appeared and hurled acid into their faces.
All three women were burned by the acid but it was Kamilat who was the most severely injured. She immediately fell to the ground and lay there unconscious while her sisters ran off to get help. She remained there until her brother finally arrived.
Kamilat now lies very sick in the hospital, disfigured beyond recognition. Her exquisite skin rendered red and raw, her hairline burned black and her eyelids almost completely destroyed.
"Every day they need to do something without anaesthetic so it is hard to accept and it is very painful," she said.
Ethiopians both at home and abroad were stunned by news of the attack. They have called Kamilat's family from the world over to express their anger and shock at what happened.
Now two men have been arrested in connection with the vicious attack. Justice Minister Assefa Kiseto stated that he hopes a suitably "proportional penalty" will be imposed upon these men shortly.
Said the Minister: "That could make others learn from this and refrain from committing this crime. I think this kind of crime is a crime against the whole nation not just a crime against Kamilat."
Though attacks of this nature are said to be rare in Ethiopia, stalking and sexual harassment are common problems. Last year the United Nations published a report titled Ending Violence Against Women. Within its pages, it cited that 60% of the women in Ethiopia encountered "sexual violence at some point in their lives."
A representative from the Women Lawyers Association in Ethiopia expressed her desire to see a specific provision in her country's laws to deal with stalking and sexual harassment. It is hoped such a provision would better protect young women like Kamilat in the future.
Said the representative: "The problem starts with stalking — the end result is something else. It might end in grave bodily injury, it might end in death and it might end in different difficult situations and that's why we want it to be taken seriously."
Over the past few years, the government has made some progress in tackling violence against women. In response to the attack against Kamilat, they have implemented procedures which would allow them to convict such cases within two days.
As for Kamilat, she and her sisters have flown to Paris where they will receive medical treatment for their injuries. Everything is being financed out of the kindness and generosity of businessman Sheikh Mohammed Al Amoudi.
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