TRAPAENG VENG, Cambodia — Touch Eap stroked her husband’s scarred and discolored back as she described the night six years ago when she poured a tub of acid over his head, burning off his eyes and ears and lips and leaving him as dependent on her as a child.
An acid burn victim had her blood pressure checked at the Cambodian Acid Survivors Charity while recovering from a skin grafting operation.
“I wanted to kill him,” she said. “I didn’t want to injure him. He said he would kill me, and I thought, better to kill him first so that I can take care of the children.”
She smiled ruefully as she talked; his drunkenness and threats were an old memory. Her husband, Phoeung Phoeur, 45, opened his mouth in what may also have been a smile.
“I’m sorry for him,” said Ms. Touch Eap, 46, who grows vegetables to support her husband and three children, “and I try to take care of him.”
It was a moment of domestic tranquillity here in Cambodia’s only shelter for acid burn victims, where a dozen other mutilated residents napped or sang or hung their heads backward in an exercise to help keep their scarred necks flexible.
Cambodia, along with Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, has a history of acid attacks — a rare and extreme form of revenge or punishment.
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