My Google Page Rank

Prominent Pakistani acid victim commits suicide

PDFPrintE-mail

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistani acid attack victim Fakhra Younus had endured more than three dozen surgeries over more than a decade to repair her severely damaged face and body when she finally decided life was no longer worth living.

The 33-year-old former dancing girl — who was allegedly attacked by her then-husband, an ex-lawmaker and son of a political powerhouse — jumped from the sixth floor of a building in Rome, where she had been living and receiving treatment.

Her March 17 suicide and the return of her body to Pakistan on Sunday reignited furor over the case, which received significant international attention at the time of the attack. Her death came less than a month after a Pakistani filmmaker won the country's first Oscar for a documentary about acid attack victims.

Younus' story highlights the horrible mistreatment many women face in Pakistan's conservative, male-dominated culture and is a reminder that the country's rich and powerful often appear to operate with impunity. Younus' ex-husband, Bilal Khar, was eventually acquitted, but many believe he used his connections to escape the law's grip — a common occurrence in Pakistan.

More than 8,500 acid attacks, forced marriages and other forms of violence against women were reported in Pakistan in 2011, according to The Aurat Foundation, a women's rights organization. Because the group relied mostly on media reports, the figure is likely an undercount.
"The saddest part is that she realized that the system in Pakistan was never going to provide her with relief or remedy," Nayyar Shabana Kiyani, an activist at The Aurat Foundation, said of Younus. "She was totally disappointed that there was no justice available to her."

Younus was a teenage dancing girl working in the red light district of the southern city of Karachi when she met her future husband, the son of Ghulam Mustafa Khar, a former governor of Pakistan's largest province, Punjab. The unusual pairing was the younger Khar's third marriage. He was in his mid-30s at the time.

The couple was married for three years, but Younus eventually left him because he allegedly physically and verbally abused her. She claimed that he came to her mother's house while she was sleeping in May 2000 and poured acid all over her in the presence of her 5-year-old son from a different man.

Tehmina Durrani, Ghulam Mustafa Khar's ex-wife and his son's stepmother, became an advocate for Younus after the attack, drawing international attention to the case. She said that Younus' injuries were the worst she had ever seen on an acid attack victim.
"So many times we thought she would die in the night because her nose was melted and she couldn't breathe," said Durrani, who wrote a book about her own allegedly abusive relationship with the elder Khar. "We used to put a straw in the little bit of her mouth that was left because the rest was all melted together."

She said Younus, whose life had always been hard, became a liability to her family, for whom she was once a source of income.
"Her life was a parched stretch of hard rock on which nothing bloomed," Durrani wrote in a column in The News after Younus' suicide.
Younus' ex-husband grew up in starkly different circumstances, amid the wealth and power of the country's feudal elite, and counts Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar as a cousin.

Bilal Khar once again denied carrying out the acid attack in a TV interview following her suicide, suggesting a different man with the same name committed the crime. He claimed Younus killed herself because she didn't have enough money, not because of her horrific injuries, and criticized the media for hounding him about the issue.

"You people should be a little considerate," said Khar. "I have three daughters and when they go to school people tease them."
In February, Younus said in one of her last interviews that powerful Pakistanis brutally treat ordinary citizens and "don't know how painful they make others' lives."
"I want such people to be treated in the same way" as they treat people whose lives they ruin, she told Geo TV over the telephone from Rome.
Younus was energized when the Pakistani government enacted a new set of laws last year that explicitly criminalized acid attacks and mandated that convicted attackers would serve a minimum sentence of 14 years, said Durrani. She hoped to return someday to get justice once her health stabilized.

"She said, 'When I come back, I will reopen the case, and I'll fight myself,' and she was a fighter," Durrani said.
Durrani had to battle with both Younus' ex-husband and the government to send her to Italy, where the Italian government paid for her treatment and provided her money to live on and send her child to school. Pakistani officials argued that sending Younus to Italy would give the country a bad name, Durrani said.

Younus was happy when Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy won an Oscar for her documentary about acid attack victims in February, but was worried about being forgotten since she wasn't profiled in the film, said Durrani.
Durrani said Younus' case should be a reminder that the Pakistani government needs to do much more to prevent acid attacks and other forms of violence against women, and also help the victims.

"I think this whole country should be extremely embarrassed that a foreign country took responsibility for a Pakistani citizen for 13 years because we could give her nothing, not justice, not security," said Durrani.

Associated Press writers Zarar Khan and Asif Shahzad contributed to this report.

by Sebastian Abbot




Related news items:
Newer news items:
Older news items:

Add comment


Security code
Refresh

Guard loses motorcycle to robbers

19 Nov 2018 Hits:75 Be the first to comment!

A security guard of a telecommunication company was robbed by three suspects wearing bonnets who took his motorcycle at the PLDT tower site in Barangay Mercedes, Zamboanga City on Saturday. According to police report, the victim identified as Ryan Coralat y Delacalsada, 25, single, a resident of Barangay Sangali, was on duty when the suspects arrived and poked a handgun and a knife at him. The victim told the personnel of Police Station 3 that at about 3:40 in the morning, the armed suspects suddenly arrived and took his Honda XRM color black motorcycle bearing plate number SB 8422, then hurriedly sped towards unknown direction after the incident. A thorough investigation is being conducted by the investigator-on-case, PO3 Jova Agustin, to identify the [...] Read more

Prev Next Page:

THANK GOD! It’s FRIDAY!

16 Nov 2018 Hits:88 Be the first to comment!

For the Tetuan Parish, that very common expression means literally just that, for on Friday, November 16, 2018, at 7 in the evening at the Centro Pastoral, the concert UN [...] Read more


Man stabbed in Rio Hondo

16 Nov 2018 Hits:106 Be the first to comment!

A bakery worker was stabbed and wounded by his co-worker in Sitio Hongkong, Barangay Rio Hondo, Zamboanga City on Wednesday night. Police Officer 3 Had-Anuar Edding, investigator-on-case, of Police Station 11 [...] Read more


Three nabbed for illegal drugs

16 Nov 2018 Hits:143 Be the first to comment!

Three persons were arrested when operatives of Police Station 9 seized from them 13 sachets of suspected shabu during a buy-bust operation at Barangay Recodo, Zamboanga City on Thursday dawn. Arrested [...] Read more


DOH 9 conducts training on GI, community-based treatment for PWUDs

15 Nov 2018 Hits:150 Be the first to comment!

The Department of Health Region IX (DOH 9) conducted the Training on General Intervention (GI) and Community-based Treatment Care Services for Person Who Use Drugs (PWUDs) from November 13-15, 2018. With [...] Read more


DENR-EMB 9 conducts SWM plan finalization of ZamPen LGUs

14 Nov 2018 Hits:169 Be the first to comment!

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) Region IX is conducting a 10-year Solid Waste Management (SWM) plan update and finalization of 33 local government units (LGUs) [...] Read more


Man accused of child abuse, arrested

13 Nov 2018 Hits:207 Be the first to comment!

Two teenagers filed a complaint for child abuse against a 55-year-old man at Police Station 7 last Sunday. Ellyn, married, a resident of Barangay Pasonanca, Zamboanga City, averred to the police [...] Read more


Brgy Chair nabs pedicab driver carrying shabu

13 Nov 2018 Hits:147 Be the first to comment!

A delivery boy was arrested in a buy-bust operation conducted by elements of Police Station 4 led by Chief Insp. Hazel Fernandez at Barangay Baliwasan, Zamboanga City  on Sunday. Police identified [...] Read more


Navforwem honors fleet-marine troops for rescue of KV Duterte

13 Nov 2018 Hits:222 Be the first to comment!

The Naval Forces Western Mindanao (Navforwem) has honored sailors, marines, Fleet-Marine personnel and navies for the successful rescue of kidnapped victim (KV) Jose Duterte and exceptional feats in the accomplishment [...] Read more


Police searching for armed man for mauling

12 Nov 2018 Hits:150 Be the first to comment!

A resident of Barangay Mampang, Zamboanga City, is now being hunted by personnel of Police Station 6 for mauling and totting his gun at another person on Sunday. Police report shows [...] Read more


Team Climaco condemns misinformation, fake news

09 Nov 2018 Hits:361 Be the first to comment!

Members of the Team Climaco have strongly criticized and condemned misinformation drive allegedly hatched by their political foes and propagandists, who are desperate to destroy the many and outstanding accomplishments [...] Read more


Man hacked by father-in-law

09 Nov 2018 Hits:163 Be the first to comment!

A man was hacked and wounded by his father-in-law at Sibiktol Drive, Barangay Arena Blanco, Zamboanga City, on Wednesday. The victim was identified as Jarrin Jalmaani y Gadong, married and a [...] Read more


More Filipinos to be engaged in HIV-AIDS awareness drive

08 Nov 2018 Hits:207 Be the first to comment!

The right information on HIV-AIDS will curb the spread of this disease. But putting information out there isn’t enough, a senior government official believes. There has to be constant engagement [...] Read more


CHO: Fear of Dengvaxia prevents children from getting vaccines

07 Nov 2018 Hits:276 Be the first to comment!

Assistant City Health Officer Dr. Kibtiya Uddin reported that the fear of Dengvaxia vaccine has prevented children from getting other types of vaccines during City Hall's weekly press conference on [...] Read more


Army officer, 3 soldiers injured in clash with Abu Sayyaf in Sulu

07 Nov 2018 Hits:319 Be the first to comment!

An Army officer and three more soldiers were wounded in an encounter with Abu Sayyaf terrorists in Sulu province on Monday afternoon. Lt. Col. Gerry Besana,  spokesperson of Western Mindanao Command [...] Read more


Beng distributes relief goods to Triplet fire victims

18 Oct 2018 Hits:274 Be the first to comment!

Mayor Beng Climaco on Wednesday afternoon spearheaded the distribution of relief goods to families displaced by the early dawn fire in Lemon Drive, Triplet, Barangay Canelar. Mayor Climaco, assisted by personnel [...] Read more


DTI reports slight hike in prices of basic goods

18 Oct 2018 Hits:250 Be the first to comment!

Following its continuing monitoring of prices of all consumable goods in the local markets, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has reported a slight increase in the prices of [...] Read more


OCENR preps SWM in barangays, basura run

18 Oct 2018 Hits:229 Be the first to comment!

The Office of the City Environment and Natural Resources (OCENR) is working to strengthen the capacities of local barangays in line with sanitation, particularly solid waste management. Public Services Officer IV [...] Read more


Mayor Beng files candidacy, vows to continue pro-poor programs

17 Oct 2018 Hits:282 Be the first to comment!

In an expected sea of supporters to join her today, popular Mayor Maria Isabelle “Beng” Climaco is scheduled to file her certificate of candidacy for re-election this morning at the [...] Read more