Violence in England has been making headlines in 2017. Terrorists have used knives and vehicles to perpetrate their attacks. And restrictive gun laws make it all but impossible for the Brits to use firearms for self defense. And a recent acid attack has brought the situation into even sharper focus.
Last Wednesday, Resham Khan and her cousin Jameel were out celebrating her 21st birthday. They were driving in London, when “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,” reports ITV News.
The man then chased the pair, who tried to drive away. The damage had been done, though, and Jameel lost control of the car and they crashed.
Khan suffered burns to her face and eyes. Jameel was burned so badly that doctors had to induce a coma.
Me and my cousin just hours before the attack. (Cropped the rest of my family out) pic.twitter.com/dWGTuwTc4t
— Resh (@ReshKay_) June 24, 2017
“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 said.
“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.”
Eventually, bystanders who had seen the effect of the attack took the pair to a 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.
Daniel Mann, one of Khan’s friends, set up a GoFundMe for medical expenses. “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.
I miss my face pic.twitter.com/YoyJQRvyvy
— Resh (@ReshKay_) June 22, 2017
“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?”
Proponents of restrictions on armed self defense often hold up England as a model for the United States. There’s very little gun crime in the country. What these people often miss in the construction of their arguments is the rate of violent crime in England.
My face my skin my body❤️ pic.twitter.com/w0KboIjAU4
— Resh (@ReshKay_) June 22, 2017
The attack on Resham is one of 1,800 acid attacks in the city of London in the last seven years. 1,800. “Last year it was used in 454 crimes, compared to 261 in 2015, according to Met Police figures,” reports the BBC.
“Since 2014 about 74% of investigations have been wound down due to problems with identifying perpetrators, or victims being unwilling to press charges,” the BBC reports.
A lack of resources and a growing problem will mean more media attention. Yet it is the will of the people who have to live with this reality that will sway opinion and enact change. How many attacks can England sustain before it takes responsibility for its own defense?