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Faces of the Forgotten

Is death better than a life filled with misery?

Acid victim Fakhra Younas of Pakistan killed herself by jumping from her apartment building.  She was 33.

In her younger years, Ms. Younas was a beautiful, vibrant woman.  Through her beauty, she has risen from being a prostitute by marrying the wealthy Bilal Khar from a prominent land owning family in Pakistan. 

This is the same man who has been accused of dousing her with acid while she was sleeping.

Fearing for her life, she has sought safety in Rome where she has undergone 38 surgeries to repair her burnt face. 

These kinds of horrific attacks on women are common not only in Pakistan but in few other Asian countries.  Men doused their wives with acid for disloyalty and disobedience.  In India, “Bride Burning” is the husband’s way of getting rid of his wife so he can marry another and secure a bigger dowry. 

It is disheartening to realize that in Asia, these incidents are common news.  News that would eventually become statistics with no concrete actions.

The offender gets acquitted or as is more often the case, not even reported for fear of public humiliation and continued harassment.

And the victims continue to live silently in fear and misery, shunned away by society and blamed by their families for being a burden.

We read their stories, we watch the news… We cry, we get angry and then we forget. 

I am telling Fakhra’s story here because I don’t want her to be forgotten.  Now, what would you do after reading this?

They say love burns.  I say it is our indifference and inaction that ignites the fire in the first place.

Incidentally, I just found out that Pakistan won their first Oscar for best documentary in the short subject category. Titled "Saving Face", the film chronicles British-Pakistani plastic surgeon Mohammad Jawad as he performs reconstructive surgery on women suffering from acid attacks.

According to statistics, over 150 women suffered attacks in Pakistan for last year alone.  Women rights groups claim that only 30% of cases where reported.


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