Although it’s rarely discussed in North American culture, a group of Semiahmoo Secondary students are raising awareness about a violent form of assault that’s more prevalent in the developing world.
Grade 11 students Aribah Rahim, Hiba Salman and Drishti Sachdev are hosting a fundraiser next month for the Acid Survivors Trust International association.
The non-government organization, founded in 2002, is a UK-based non-profit that aims to end acid violence at a global level.
ASTI’s work primarily focuses on Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Uganda, which are countries where acid attacks are more common than in North America.
Rahim and Salman are from Pakistan, and Sachdev is from India.
“We believe that here, in the Lower Mainland, acid throwing is not really talked about enough amongst teenagers and adults. People don’t know what it is,” Salman told Peace Arch News last week. “It’s so prevalent in developing countries, especially close to our homes.
The girls are to host a fundraiser for ASTI on May 3 at the Dhaliwal Banquet Hall in Surrey. They also set up a GoFundMe page.
“We really just want to raise awareness about this in the community and let people know that this is an issue that’s not getting solved around the world. We should focus on it,” Salman said.
Rahim said they are expecting about 200 students and adults to attend the event, which is to include guest speakers, food, entertainment and videos from ASTI.
Rhim said the fundraiser is part of a school project, and that the three girls started working on it well before they were actually assigned the work.
Part of the reason the girls chose to raise awareness on acid throwing, Rahim said, is because each member of her team wants to pursue further education in the medical field.
“We decided to do a fundraiser where it involves plastic surgery, which is what Drishti wants to do. I want to do reconstruction surgery and Hiba is into bio-medical,” Rahim said.
While majority of acid attack victims are women, the girls told PAN that men are also attacked.
Part of the reason why it’s more prevalent in developing countries, the girls said, is due to the accessibility of the corrosive substance.
“It’s a way of expressing anger or jealousy,” Salman said. “The thing is, Pakistan, India, and other developing countries, it’s very accessible amongst the streets. You can just go to a shop, get it, and throw it on anyone.
“It’s very accessible, (ASTI) is trying to make it so it’s not accessible to the general public.”
Each girl is to give a speech at the event and Rahim said they will use the platform to encourage other high school students to get involved with global issues.
“We’re always on social media and we see all of these stories. But in order to make our voices heard, we need to talk about these issues as much as we can to encourage other students to take a stand as well.”
Tickets for the event cost $20 for students and $25 for adults. To purchase tickets, contact the girls at firstname.lastname@example.org