On Wednesday, a London woman, Resham Khan, and her cousin, Jameel, became victims of an acid attack while they were out celebrating Khan’s 21st birthday.
Both victims were left with life-changing injuries: Khan is suffering from damage to one of her eyes and severe burns to her face and body. Jameel, who also suffered severe burns, had to be induced into a coma.
“A man ran up and threw acid at both Ms Khan and her cousin through the open car window as they stopped at traffic lights” in Beckton, east London, reports ITV News. “He then chased the pair as they tried to drive off but lost control of the car and crashed into a fence.”
“The pain was excruciating,” Khan told ITV News. “I was struggling to close the window. My cousin struggled to get us away.”
“I saw my clothes burn away in front of me. He put his foot down as we were coming onto a dual carriage way but the pain took over and we crashed,” she continued.
“We stripped off in the middle of the road, running around screaming and begging for water. We did this for 45 minutes. No ambulance came,” added the 21-year-old.
Good Samaritans nearby the attack helped Khan and Jameel get to a local hospital.
“I keep wondering if my life will ever be the same. I feel as though I’m blessed to have my limbs and senses. But I loved my face and body,” said Khan.
A friend of the victims, Daniel Mann, set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for the cousins’ recovery.
Mann said Khan was planning on going to a spa with her mother to celebrate her birthday just before the attack. She was also set to start a new job.
“This attack has caused them both to put their lives on hold,” said Mann.
“Resham is usually a very confident young woman. She was preparing to open her own business over the summer, and had plans to model for Asian bridal, make up and hair artists. But now she feels as though her identity has been stolen from her, on her 21st birthday,” he added.
The suspect remains at large.
“I just want this guy caught,” wrote Khan via Twitter. “I keep asking myself why he hasn’t. Keep wondering why this is taking so long. Have they forgotten about us?”
There have been over 1,800 reported acid attacks in London since 2010.
“Last year it was used in 454 crimes, compared to 261 in 2015, according to Met Police figures,” reported the BBC in March.
“Men are twice as likely to be victims of acid attacks in London than women,” notes the news outlet, adding that a third of such attacks were carried out in the east London borough of Newham.
“Since 2014 about 74% of investigations have been wound down due to problems with identifying perpetrators, or victims being unwilling to press charges,” says the BBC.