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Pakistan’s acid victim commits suicide in Italy

13 years,38 surgeries later,Fakhra Yunus jumps to death from apartment

Written by Press Trust Of India | Islamabad |
March 27, 2012 12:40:27 am

Barely a month after Pakistan bagged its first Oscar for a documentary on victims of acid attacks,the country’s most famous face of one such assault ended her 13-year ordeal by jumping out of her sixth-floor apartment in Italy.

Fakhra Yunus was 22 when her husband Bilal Khar,a member of the politically strong Khar family of Punjab,marred her life by allegedly throwing acid on her face just three years after their marriage. Bilal Khar,a former provincial legislator,is a cousin of Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar.

Following the intervention of Pakistani writer Tehmina Durrani of My Feudal Lord fame,Yunus was shifted to Italy where she underwent over three dozen plastic surgeries. Ironically,Durrani is also the former stepmother of Bilal Khar as she was once married to his father Ghulam Mustafa Khar.

During appearances on Pakistani TV news channels Sunday,Bilal Khar acknowledged Yunus was working as a prostitute in Karachi when he married her. He further said he was married at least twice before his marriage with Yunus. However,he claimed that he was not behind the acid attack.

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In a touching piece following Yunus’ death,Durrani wrote,in The News daily,“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 condition,the government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan was not in the least God-fearing. She was provided nothing…but disdain…and was trashed.”

At Durrani’s request,the Italian government arranged for everything Yunus and her then five-year-old son Nauman required. Despite 38 surgeries,Yunus jumped to her death from her sixth floor apartment in Rome.

Haji Allah Din,Yunus’ neighbour in Rome,accompanied her body to Karachi on Sunday. He told the media that he had seen Yunus an hour before she committed suicide. At the time,Yunus looked at her scarred face in the mirror and wept,Allah Din said. He said he had left her crying in her apartment,dismissing the incident as a “daily episode”.

Yunus was reportedly jubilant on the day Pakistan’s parliament passed a law under which persons responsible for acid attacks could be punished with life imprisonment. She was also thrilled when filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy’s documentary Saving face won an Oscar. Yet Yunus pined to return to Pakistan,reports said. “If I don’t get back in my lifetime,promise to take my dead body home,” she once said.

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