LAHORE: The Punjab government has devised an ambitious programme that seeks to rehabilitate and provide medical aid to victims of acid attacks amid reservations by rights activists that the government is not doing enough to help the survivors.
The government has allocated Rs100 for the ‘Nai Zindagi’ programme which includes medical aid and rehabilitation to over 1,000 victims.
In an interview with Arab News, Chief Minister Usman Buzdar expressed his commitment to helping bring survivors of these gruesome attacks to their own.
The programme which has the backing of the provincial assembly has not yet been implemented but presents a ray of hope to the survivors whose lives have been shattered by the attacks.
Pakistan which has boasted of some of the highest numbers of acid attack cases witnessed a record decline in the attacks with 153 reported cases in 2014
“The government’s duty doesn’t just end the moment a criminal is arrested or when justice is served. We, as representatives of the public, are tasked to bring these women out of the trauma they have experienced,” said Buzdar.
The government’s plan is expected to pay for the cost of surgical procedures and provide vocational training to the survivors in order for them to be able to earn a living and ‘stand on their own feet.’ The plan also seeks to offer interest-free loans and provide a monthly stipend.
Activists such as Musarrat Misbah who is known to have worked with acid attack survivors say that more resources need to be invested in order to ‘uplift the survivors’.
Misbah was quoted by Arab News as saying that some survivors require up to 30 to 35 surgeries to look better and that the monthly stipend proposed under the plan was a bare minimum amount.
The National Assembly was successful in passing the 2011 Acid Control and Acid Crime Prevention Bill which allowed for more people to be convicted for the crime. However, the parliament failed to follow up the bill with ‘crucial’ legislation which would have ensured medical and legal aid to the survivors.
The Punjab government’s recent move stands in marked contrast to the indifference of previous governments who made little progress in legislating on the issue.