When Awais Akram answered his mobile to Sadia Khatoon, a 24-year-old married woman whom he had met on Facebook and had recently started a physical, but not sexual, relationship with, he had little idea of the fate that was about to befall him.
Mrs Khatoon insisted they meet outside his flat in Leytonstone, east London, but as Mr Akram stepped out into the summer sunshine his lover was nowhere to be seen. Instead he was confronted by three masked men wearing gloves, one of whom was carrying a bottle of "Give It One Shot" drain cleaner.If your family's "honour" can only be salvaged by disfiguring the "dishonourer's" face with drain cleaner, all I can say is you come from one mighty sick family.
The men, who included Mrs Khatoon's brother Mohammed Vakas, had come to wipe off what they believed was a stain on their family's "izzat" (honour). Beating and stabbing Mr Akram was not enough. As he lay bleeding on the floor, Vakas stepped over his victim and poured the entire bottle of drain cleaner over Mr Akram's face and body.
In parts of the developing world – particularly south-east Asia, the south Asian subcontinent and east Africa – acid attacks are common. The Taliban and fellow extremists have frequently resorted to throwing acid in women's faces for even small transgressions, such as daring to go out unveiled. But there are concerns that such attacks may also be on the increase in the UK.
Hospital admission figures for the past three years show a steady rise in the number of people being treated for acid attacks. According to the NHS information centre, 44 people were admitted to hospital in 2006-07 after they were "assaulted with a corrosive substance". The following year the figure jumped to 67 and last year there were 69 admissions.
The figures only include hospital admissions where a patient had to spend one night or more in hospital and there is no ethnic breakdown. But charity workers fear there is enough anecdotal evidence to suggest acid attacks are becoming more common...