A new project to support acid attack survivors in Bangladesh

Acid Survivors Foundation Cover

The British Asian Trust is supporting some of the most vulnerable women in Bangladesh with vital mental health support. We have started a new project with the Acid Survivors Foundation to provide trauma counselling to survivors. Our Chief Executive, Richard Hawkes, was recently in Bangladesh and had the opportunity to meet with survivors and hear their stories first hand.

Acid and burn violence is primarily a form of gender-based violence in South Asia. There are around 4,000 acid attack survivors in Bangladesh, nearly two-thirds of them are women. Although acid attacks have reduced over the years due to more stringent legislation and punishments, an acid attack is life-changing for the survivors.

Physical disfigurement via acid attacks are often targeted at the victims’ face. As well as having physical scars to remind them of the attack, survivors also have emotional and mental trauma to overcome. This can lead to struggles to integrate back into society. Severe depression, suicidal tendencies, social anxiety are common amongst survivors. Emotional and mental health support is critical at almost every stage of their lives.

British Asian Trust Ambassador Konnie Huq says: “This is a hugely important area of work to support Bangladeshi women who have suffered greatly due to acid attacks and related violence. Services to support their mental health during this period can help transform their lives. Women who have suffered such violence often find it difficult to reintegrate. The challenges of getting a job, getting married, attending social functions are constant reminders of their attack and subsequent trauma. I am proud to support the British Asian Trust in their latest Mental Health programme to offer specialised counselling and psychotherapy services to survivors in Bangladesh.”



Richard Hawkes adds: “Our work in Bangladesh to support acid and burn survivors is essential in ensuring comprehensive emotional and mental health support for those who need it the most. The trauma experienced by this type of violence is life-changing so specialised support through a community approach is critical. We have developed a new counselling module and provide counselling and psychotherapy services to acid attack survivors. We’re proud to continue to develop and expand our programme further, given the huge gap in existing mental health services in South Asia.”

The British Asian Trust is implementing a new and improved approach with our partner Acid Survivors Foundation in order to provide mental health support to acid and burn violence survivors in Bangladesh.

The Trust has co-developed a specialised training model focused on trauma counselling that takes into account biological, psychological and social factors for survivors. This model will train and support counsellors at the community level. These trained individuals, who themselves are acid survivors will offer emotional and mental support to fellow survivors of acid and burn violence.

This project is supported via vital funds raised at the British Asian Trust’s 2023 annual Iftar event, held in the month of Ramadan.

This is the latest initiative in the British Asian Trust’s Mental Health programme in Bangladesh and follows on from the Trust’s work with Primark, supported by SAJIDA Foundation, to provide mental health first aid to garment factory workers. The British Asian Trust’s work in South Asia aims to reduce stigma, build awareness, increase access to mental health services, drive systemic and policy change and support the vulnerable through trauma rehabilitation and counselling.

More information can be found here