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

Four Kidnap victims rescued in Zamboanga del Norte

14 Mar 2018 Hits:487 Be the first to comment!

Four kidnap victims, who were held captive for nine days in Sirawai town, Zamboanga del Norte, have been escued, the military said. The Western Mindanao Command's spokesperson, Capt. Jo-Ann Petinglay, said as troops continue their rescue operations against lawless elements in Zamboanga Peninsula area, four kidnap victims were rescued in Sirawai, Zamboanga del Norte at 3:00 p.m. on Monday. Petinglay identified the rescued kidnap victims as Roger Jung-an; Jomar Maglangit; Jomar Mantangan; and Raymond Purisima who were left by their disoriented captors after soldiers and policemen had been relentlessly pursuing them since their abduction. Accordingly, the four are chainsaw operators and laborers, all residents of Barangay San Vicente, Sirawai, Zamboanga del Norte, who were abducted at the vicinity of Barangay Panabutan of Sirawai [...] Read more

Prev Next Page:

Beng urges women: Be brave, be strong

09 Mar 2018 Hits:418 Be the first to comment!

In celebration of women empowerment, Mayor Beng Climaco urged all women to be brave and strong amidst challenges and difficulties. Speaking to hundreds of women and men who joined the Marcha [...] Read more


CA denies Musa’s motion on IP seat in City Council

09 Mar 2018 Hits:451 Be the first to comment!

The Court of Appeals has denied Ismael Musa’s motion for reconsideration relative to his assertion as sectoral representative of the Indigenous People in the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Zamboanga City. In a [...] Read more


City welcomes Curuan-Sibuco road

07 Mar 2018 Hits:553 Be the first to comment!

Mayor Beng Climaco has welcomed the inclusion of the Curuan-Sibuco road project, one of the subprojects proposed under Improving Growth Corridors in Mindanao Road Sector Project (IGCMRSP) of the Department [...] Read more


Beng welcomes Litlit’s appointment as SP member

15 Feb 2018 Hits:666 Be the first to comment!

President Rodrigo Duterte has appointed San Roque Barangay Chairman Joselito “Litlit” Macrohom as member of the Sangguniang Panlungsod or City council replacing Charlie Mariano who stepped down from office last [...] Read more


City Registrar observes Civil Reg Month

15 Feb 2018 Hits:507 Be the first to comment!

The city, through the Office of the City Civil Registrar,is observing the Civil Registration Month this February with several activities highlighting the importance of civil registration. The month-long observance is punctuated [...] Read more


CHO stresses need for measles vaccination

14 Feb 2018 Hits:552 Be the first to comment!

The City Health Office (CHO) yesterday appealed to parents to submit their children for measles vaccination. This after a seven-month baby died last February 6, 2018 allegedly due to measles, five [...] Read more


MYEISHA JOLO DOWN M.LOZANO TAWI – TAWI

11 Jan 2018 Hits:630 Be the first to comment!

Este el Istoria del Jong Cariaga Mindanao Cup 2018 que ya hace na Golden Boys gym anoche. Ya sale Champion el Myeisha Jolo kay completo todo departamento del juego especialmente [...] Read more


BFP personnel to undergo fire suppression activities

10 Jan 2018 Hits:563 Be the first to comment!

Personnel of the Bureau of Fire Protection in Zamboanga City will undergo fire suppression trainings in the days to come in a bid to keep them abreast of the firefighting [...] Read more


RED CORALS UNITED Y RESTO DEL MUNDO FC –TABLA

10 Jan 2018 Hits:531 Be the first to comment!

Del Domingo pasao ya mira kita con el Resto Del Mundo FC contra Red Corals United donde ya sale Tabla el juego na Soccer Football. Amo quel el ultimo juego [...] Read more


TFZ gets 10 motorcycles from City Government

09 Jan 2018 Hits:575 Be the first to comment!

Task Force Zamboanga (TFZ) on Monday received from the local government 10 units of XRM motorcycles for security patrols in the outskirts of the city. Mayor Beng Climaco together with Councilor [...] Read more


Beng leads destruction of seized items

09 Jan 2018 Hits:564 Be the first to comment!

To show the Local Government’s firm commitment to public safety and security, Mayor Beng Climaco on Monday personally maneuvered a road roller and led the destruction of seized items such [...] Read more


Warring clans arm cache seized by gov't troops in Lanao del Sur

09 Jan 2018 Hits:589 Be the first to comment!

The military on Saturday seized a cached of high-powered firearms from warring clans, following a clearing operation in Lanao del Sur province. Capt. Jo-Ann Petinglay, spokesperson of the Western Mindanao Command, [...] Read more


BOALAN AGM TEAM OUTSMART FARRAH J

09 Jan 2018 Hits:524 Be the first to comment!

MINDANAO LEAGUE 2018 BY JONG CARIAGA: Boalan Agm  nuevo star athlete Kaiwa Sabdulla y si Neil Jumao-as ya dale mira kay puede sila gana con el maga mapuersa team como el [...] Read more


ANIMO JORTZ SURPRISED FARRAH J TEAM

08 Jan 2018 Hits:451 Be the first to comment!

JONG CARIAGA BASKETBALL MINDANAO CUP ‘18. Que el juego ta ase na golden boys gym ta principia 7:00 del noche. Fritz Vesagas amo el ya ase gana con el disuyu [...] Read more


BASKETBALL THRILLA IN ZAMBOANGA

07 Jan 2018 Hits:475 Be the first to comment!

JONG CARIAGA MINDANAO CUP Este el un torneo que debe kita mira kay el team del Myiesha Jolo tiene 5 ex PBA athleta y el losdemas puru mga star players de [...] Read more


Climaco reiterates appeal to Customs: Stop smuggling

06 Jan 2018 Hits:1069 Be the first to comment!

Mayor Beng Climaco has once again appealed to the Bureau of Customs to clean up Zamboanga City against smuggling, and it can only be done if the agency will deputize [...] Read more


Escapee recaptured in Isabela

06 Jan 2018 Hits:513 Be the first to comment!

An inmate who escaped last Tuesday night from his cell in Isbela City was recaptured by the Isabela City Police on Wednesday afternoon in one of the islands in Maluso, [...] Read more


Beng orders intensified drive vs illegal quarrying

06 Jan 2018 Hits:486 Be the first to comment!

Mayor Beng Climaco has ordered a renewed campaign against illegal quarrying activities as she cited the city’s firm advocacy on environmental protection. Mayor Climaco Thursday has directed City Police Director PSSupt. [...] Read more