Two young 18 years old garment factory workers, Reshma Akter Sufia and Swapna Akter were at the helm of an acid attack stemmed from revenge, on the eve of 20th March 2021. Revenge for what? For refusing the ‘love’ proposal of a 19-year-old man, named Mehedi Hasan. Yes, that is indeed the only reason these young women in Narayanganj were attacked and found themselves in the hospital with severe burns. Reshma was burned neck down to her lower
back, and Swapna found her arms to be burnt. Further investigation found that Reshma was his main target, as he had made a proposal to her, and her friend Swapna unfortunately became part of the collateral damage. As Reshma rejected his proposal and turned away, she felt the attack on her back, which consequently splashed across her friend’s elbows too. Reshma’s only ‘crime’ was that she exercised her right of free will and refused the man’s proposal. Mehedi, whose masculinity was so threatened at the mere sight of a girl rejecting his advances, resorted to the ultimate form of torture and violence upon the woman. His fragile masculinity could not handle any rejection from a woman, and apparently the only way he knew to retaliate was to impair her physically.

The attack took place in Shashongaon area, near the Fatulla police station. The accused, Mehedi Hasan, also lived in a rented house in the area. Upon getting further details from the police, it was learned that Reshma was a neighbour with her attacker, Mehedi as she lived next door to him in Fulgach village in the Lalmonirhat Sadar Upazila. Reshma’s father Solaiman Ali became the plaintiff and lodged a complaint in the nearby Fatullah model Police Thana. According to the investigation officer Safiqul Islam, Mehedi Hasan was arrested on March 22, 2021.

Reshma had to quit her job as a garment worker and moved back to her family home in Lalmonirhat, because she could not otherwise bear the treatment expenses. She is currently being treated for her burns in a local government hospital, however her family said they could not financially afford to appear in court and fight a case against her attacker. ASF got whiff of this incident from the local hospital’s acid monitoring unit and have since spoken to Reshma’s father to confirm and learn more details about the attack. ASF have assured the family of the survivor that any medical and legal assistance will be provided to them to help Reshma overcome this trauma and injustice.

This is one of many stories that take place in many places and throughout the year. May we join them in creating a healthy environment for women and girls?