A courageous acid attack victim has launched a campaign from her hospital bed to end attacks with corrosive substances.
Resham Khan and her cousin Jameel Muhktar were attacked by a man throwing acid through their car window on Ms Khan’s 21st birthday in Beckton, east London, on 21 June. The pair endured life-changing burns.
John Tomlin appeared in front of Thames Magistrates Court on Tuesday charged with two counts of grievous bodily harm with intent. He was remanded in custody and ordered to appear at Snaresbrook crown court on 8 August.
Ms Khan, an aspiring model, has now penned an open letter urging the Metropolitan police to explicitly condemn attacks involving corrosive substances. She has called for the possession of such materials without good reason to constitute a criminal offence and demanded shops tighten regulations surrounding the sale of corrosive acid.
Ms Khan, who is a business student at Manchester Metropolitan University, said her 21st birthday had been snatched from her in one of the most “painfully scarring ways” imaginable.
“My plans are in pieces; my pain is unbearable, and I write this letter in hospital whilst I patiently wait for the return of my face,” she wrote.
A fundraising page for herself and Mr Muhktar, who is 37, has reached almost £57,000.
For the first time in three weeks I looked in the mirror and recognised the real me.
— Resh (@ReshKay_) July 12, 2017
She said her main priority was to ensure she made a full recovery and make sure nobody else is forced to endure her “living nightmare”.
Ms Khan, who has outlined a list of five actions she wants to be taken to address the problem immediately, said: “I cannot sit back whilst others remain indoors in fear of this happening to them.
"This problem needs to be eliminated. I refuse to allow the country I grew up in to simply get used to corrosive substance attacks. The fear is real. The crime is real.”
A wave of acid attacks has left some Muslim residents in east London scared to leave their homes in recent weeks.
In the past three years, the number of crimes using acid or other “noxious substances” has more than doubled. The number of incidents rose from 186 between April 2014 and March 2015 to 397 in the same period in 2016-17.
Newham and Tower Hamlets are said to be among the areas of London where such attacks occur most frequently.
Ms Khan said: “Street gangs are now using these life-changing substances instead of guns and knives. Why are acids the new street weapon? Because corrosive substances are readily available in-store and online for as little as £6.50 and the laws surrounding possession is loose.”
The attack on Ms Khan and Mr Muhktar has resulted in more than 366,000 people signing a petition calling for tighter restrictions on the sale of corrosive acid and the law to make it significantly harder to buy.