Just a month after an Oscar went to the documentary “Saving Face,” which shone a light on acid attacks in Pakistan, a prominent acid victim in the country has committed suicide.
Fakhra Yunus jumped out of her sixth-floor apartment in Italy this weekend, 13 years after her attack, the Press Trust of India reports. According to a neighbor, Yunus was last seen looking at her marred face in the mirror and weeping.
Yunus, a former prostitute, was 22 when acid was thrown on her — allegedly by her husband. Bilal Khar, a cousin of the foreign minister, maintains that he was not behind the attack, though some say he used his political influence to evade arrest, according to the Asian Correspondent
Yunus’ attack became high-profile after she attracted the notice of Pakistani writer and activist Tehmina Durrani, who wrote “My Feudal Lord,” a searing indictment of women’s role in Muslim society. Durrani helped Yunus move to Italy, where she received dozens of plastic surgeries and intensive counseling.
Durrani wrote on on the Pakistani news site The News Daily of Yunus’ death:
“At the young age of 22 an acid attack left her only marginally alive, her horrific mutilation disfigured her so completely that she was now confronted by open disgust and contempt by everyone who set eyes on her in Pakistan. She also became a liability to her own family for whom she was once a source of income.
“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. Despite her stark and hopeless condition, the government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan was not in the least God-fearing. She was provided nothing...but disdain...and trashed.”
Durrani quotes an Italian professor who counseled Yunus as saying: “I tried to mend her physical scars but was unable to heal her soul.”
In his post about Yunus’ death, the Asian Correspondent’s Ahsan Butt posted a photo of the foreign minister giving an award to the filmmaker of “Saving Face.” “To recap,” writes Butt. “One acid-burn victim leaped to her death... and one-acid burn perpetrator’s cousin is presenting prizes to a documentarian whose Oscar-winning film was about acid-burning women. There’s something very wrong with this picture.”
Below, watch the preview for “Saving Face,” which reportedly had once given Yunus hope, below:
Update, 11:07 a.m.:
Two savvy readers have added more context to this story. One reader pointed out in the comments that Tehmina Durrani, who stepped in to help Yunus, is Khar’s stepmother. Read more about that at Pakistani news site Dawn. Another reader emailed with more information about Yunus’ son, Nauman, who is now a teenager, not a child, as this post previously stated. Read more about him at The News.
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