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Pakistani acid victim kills herself after years of pain


Emine Dilek
WVoN co-editor 

A 33-year-old acid attack victim, Fakhra Younus, killed herself  earlier this month by jumping from the sixth floor of an apartment in Rome where she had been receiving treatment.

The young woman had endured more than 35 reconstructive surgeries to repair her severely damaged face and body after her  – then – husband Bilal Khar, poured acid on her in May 2000.

An ex-lawmaker and son of a former governor of Pakistan’s largest province, Khar carried out the assault while her five-year-old son from a previous relationship watched. He was acquitted and freed after a brief trial which many believe was botched.

Younus met Khar in 1998 while working as a dancer and the couple got married shortly after. It was a third marriage for Khar who was in his 30s, Younus was only 18. She left him after three years due to physical and verbal abuse.

Themina Durani, a writer and activist, and also the ex-wife of Khar’s father,  became an advocate for the victim and persuaded the Pakistani government to send Younus to Italy for treatment and protection.

The Italian government paid for her treatment and provided her money to live on and send her child to school.

Durani said that the attack was the worst she’d ever seen:

“I have met many acid victims. Never have I seen one as completely disfigured as Fakhra. She had not just become faceless; her body had also melted to the bone.

“So many times we thought she would die in the night because her nose was melted and she couldn’t breathe. We used to put a straw in the little bit of her mouth that was left because the rest was all melted together. ”

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.

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