Surgeon helps to rebuild lives of acid attack victims

Dr Asim Shahmalak said one victim had acid thrown on her by a man she refused to marry.

A British-based surgeon who spent £50,000 of his own money to help rebuild the lives of Pakistan's acid attack victims has said he offered free medical help after being moved to tears by their stories.

Dr Asim Shahmalak, who was born and brought up in Pakistan, told ITV's Daybreak he met a number of victims enduring a "living hell" in a visit to his homeland 18 months ago.

They included a woman who was left permanently disfigured for refusing to marry a man and another who had acid thrown on her by her husband as she slept because she was pursuing a career as an air hostess.

An eight-year-old child was also attacked by her father for refusing to go to school, Dr Shahmalak said.

"The moment I saw them I had tears in my eyes," he recounted.

Dr Shahmalak vowed to return with his own team to operate and last month treated six women and a man from an original shortlist of 17 patients.

Their attacks were carried out with sulphuric acid which can be bought for as little as 15p a bottle in Karachi.

Dr Shahmalak is calling for a ban of the sale of the acid and demanding more help for the hundreds of victims each year.

He said at least four to five new acid-attack cases are reported each week and it is left to NGOs to try to care for the victims, with Pakistan's health system unable to provide sufficient care.

Dr Shahmalak said the total number of victims is likely to be far higher with many more attacks going unreported.