Aklima is 32 years old and lives in Hajaribag Baroy Khali in Dhaka city. In 2009, Aklima got married with Subair, and they have two kids. Before her marriage with Subair, she had a relationship with a former boyfriend. The former boyfriend got married three years later with another woman. The former boyfriend’s wife learned about her husband’s past relationship with Aklima. She was furious and jealous of Aklima.
On 2nd April 2018, Aklima took her six-year-old daughter, Adibar, to school. It was 7:30 am in the morning, and on the street two men were waiting for Aklima. Suddenly one of men grabbed her from behind and attacked her with acid, while the one man made sure that nobody intervened. Just before the attack, Aklima saw that the wife of her former boyfriend was there and watching. The wife of her former boyfriend had ordered and paid the two men to attack Aklima with corrosive acid. The men most likely got the acid from a nearby tannery.
Many people saw the attack, but nobody reacted and assisted her. A woman saw the attack from her window and was shouting to Aklima that she had been attacked with acid, and that she should quickly pour water on the burns. Aklima was in deep shock and ran senselessly back home. She was screaming and in deep pain.
The same day of the attack, Aklima’s brother filed a case with the police against the woman and her former boyfriend. The police have not yet submitted the charge sheet to the court. But they have arrested the woman and her husband, who both are in jail. The woman has paid off the police so that she can avoid being charged, and so she can have her three months old baby with her in jail.
None of the witnesses to the acid attack on Aklima want to witness in front of the police and the court. They are afraid of the police and do not want to be harassed and troubled by the police, lawyers and the court. The only witness to the attack is Aklima herself.
Before I am leaving Aklima and Subair's home, Aklima wants me to know that Subair is a very carrying husband, and that he has helped her a lot since the attack. He also knew about her former relationship and had no problem with that. Subair has been at her side all the time since the acid attack. He also stayed with her while she was in hospital and when she underwent three major operations. Now Subair and Aklima’s brother are doing everything in the house. Aklima cannot sleep, and her deep burn wounds are very painful. Aklima is also blind on her right eye. Her nerves are physical damaged by the acid, and her brain hurts a lot. Subair has already borrowed more than 2 lakh (200,000 taka, 2400 USD) from family members for Aklima’s operations. She also needs more operations of her burns and an new artificial eye.
Hajaribag Baroy Khali, Dhaka. 10th July 2018.
From Portraits - Acid