London, England – On December 30, 2012 Naomi Oni, 20, claims she was on her way home from a late shift at Victoria’s Secret in East London when an anonymous attacker threw acid at her.
The corrosive liquid left Oni with partial blindness and serious burns and scars on her head, neck, arms, legs and body.
Oni’s undergone several skin grafts and treatments since. As healing permits she will have to endure reconstructive surgical procedures and additional grafts. American cosmetic surgeon Cap Lesesne has offered to operate on her injuries for free.
Still the overall toll of the incident has “destroyed” Oni’s life as she knew it.
The Sun reports Oni described her suspected attacker as a Muslim woman wearing a niqab, a facial shroud worn as part of a sartorial hijab garment, commonly donned by Muslin women in public.
Currently police are investigating whether or not the acid attack on Oni was self-inflicted or a horrible act of random violence. Investigators seized Oni’s personal computer in January.
The Daily Mail reports a search revealed research material on Katie Piper, a former model and media personality who suffered a sulphuric acid attack in March 2008 in North London.
The event, in Piper’s case, had been arranged by her ex-boyfriend Daniel Lynch and carried out by accomplice Stefan Sylvestre. The two men were later arrested and are serving time in prison. Piper now works for her charitable organization the Katie Piper Foundation.
These online searches were done prior to Oni’s own assault.
Oni’s boyfriend Ato Owede and her family find the self-injury allegation absurd. Instead they feel authorities are doing little to catch the actual perpetrator, wasting time on this line of inquiry.
Unfortunately, there have been several acid attack hoaxes where women have maimed themselves and fabricated details to authorities. In Vancouver, Washington Bethany Storro, 28 at the time of her alleged 2010 attack, told police initially an unidentified stranger had splashed acid into her face. She later admitted to police the story was a hoax and clarified she’d done it to herself. It was determined to be a gruesome suicide attempt because Storro was suffering from an undiagnosed case of severe body dysmorphic disorder.
An Acid attack (vitriolage) is a form of violent assault. Acid or some other corrosive element is thrown onto the body of a person with the intention of permanently injuring or disfiguring their victims. Perpetrators of these attacks aim primarily for the face. Acid can severely damage skin tissue, dissolving flesh, muscle, and even bone. Long term, victims can be left blind and permanently scarred. Globally, at least 1500 people in 20 countries are attacked in this way annually. Attacks such as these are more common in Cambodia, Afghanistan, India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. Eighty percent of intended victims are females. Typically husbands and relatives commit acid attacks, a form of domestic violence, as punishment.