An Afghan woman and her family were doused with acid after the father refused to give his 18-year-old daughter's hand in marriage to one of the attackers, CNN reported.
The group of gunmen, reportedly led by the woman's indignant suitor, broke into the family's home in the Kunduz region of northern Afghanistan early Wednesday, where they beat up the father and covered his wife and three daughters with acid, which they had brought in buckets. The father and oldest daughter are in critical condition. The wife and two younger daughters, aged 14 and 13, are in stable condition, Reuters reported.
The family told the BBC that the gunmen were Arbakis, an independent militia. The family had reportedly turned down a proposal from the attacker a few weeks earlier because they did not approve of him, and had their daughter engaged to a relative. The Arbakis have been accused of several crimes in the region, including rape and extortion, the BBC reported. A search is underway for the gunmen, who fled after the attack.
Acid attacks have become more common in Afghanistan and throughout Asia. Thousands of cases of acid used against women have been reported in Bangladesh, according to the Global Press Institute. In 2004, an Iranian woman was sprayed with acid by a suitor whose marriage proposal she refused.
Human rights activists have expressed concerns that the gains made for women's rights in Afghanistan may fall by the wayside as foreign troops prepare to leave the country by the end of 2014. Oxfam found that the Afghan government’s ground-breaking Elimination of Violence Against Women law – which makes practices like honor killings and child marriages illegal – is currently only being enforced in 10 out Afghanistan’s 34 provinces.