The world is horrified every time the victim of an “acid attack” speaks out, stunned that anyone could be so full of rage that they’d leave a family member or complete stranger incapacitated and disfigured for the rest of their lives.
Though they have been reported from South America to Russia, acid attacks have been at an all time high in Pakistan for the past several years, most often as a form of revenge or punishment for so-called immodest behavior.
Now, it seems a young woman working for Victoria’s Secret in London has become the most recent victim. According to British media, 20-year-old Naomi Oni was ambushed on December 30 while walking home from work, but has just been released from the hospital after roughly a month of surgery and skin grafts.
The London Evening Standard relates:
The store assistant had just got off the bus and was talking to her boyfriend Ato Owede, 23, on her phone when she felt someone walking behind her in Lodge Avenue in Dagenham at around 12.40am.
She said:“I’d been working a late shift and was talking to my boyfriend about what we were going to do for New Year when I saw this Muslim woman wearing a niqab covering her face. I thought it was a bit strange at that time of night, but she didn’t say anything and I kept on walking.
“Then I felt a splash on my face. It burned and I screamed out. I started running and screaming, holding my face, all the way home. I didn’t look back.
“I got home and I was screaming and banging on the door. I was hysterical. Luckily my godmother, who is a pharmacist, was at home with my mum and she helped me and kept dipping my face in water and trying to calm me down until the police and ambulance got there. I was in shock. Saying: ‘Who would do that? Who would do that?’ How could anyone do this?” [Emphasis added]
Oni recently went public with the story, frustrated that police say they haven’t determined a motive or apprehended any suspects.
The young woman gave an interview to the BBC, explaining how she’s coping with the tragedy:
“The first time I looked I was shocked. I didn’t want to live after I saw my face.”
When she first saw herself in the mirror she said: “My head was 10 times the size, my face was black, my eyes were swollen and my eyes were cutting out.
“I thought I was going to go blind: I was terrified.”
Determined to stay positive despite her injuries, she said things could have been much worse.
“That person failed, whatever their aim was they failed.
“God has given me a life for a reason and that’s what keeps me going.” [Emphasis added]
Oni is the sole provider for her 52-year-old disabled mother, but the whole family has been reluctant to return home, opting instead to stay with friends.
Though she has demonstrated remarkable fortitude and even found new role models like Katie Piper, who was the victim of an acid attack in 2008, Oni knows her life will never be the same.
“I look in the mirror and it just isn’t me…I’ve always been outgoing and confident in my job and in my personal life, used to getting attention for the way I dress or my hair, but now I don’t want anyone looking at me.”
She was planning on studying media and fashion in college this fall, but may no longer be able to. Oni still has months of skin grafts and plastic surgery to undergo, according to reports, and will still be left with heavy facial scarring.
According to the London Evening Standard, a spokesman for the Scotland Yard said that such attacks are “extremely rare” in the United Kingdom, adding that they are keeping an “open mind” during the investigation.
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