P. 1, Today’s New York Times: Moving Backwards

Acid is the preferred weapon of vindictive men against women accused of disloyalty or disobedience.  Common in several Asian countries, acid attacks in Pakistan grew sharply in number in 2011, to 150 from 65 in 2010, although some advocacy workers said the increase stemmed largely from better reporting.

—  from the p. 1 article by Declan Walsh in today’s New York Times (Tuesday, 10 April 2012)

*     *    *    *

The article was prompted by the March 17 suicide of one of the bravest of Pakistani women:  Pakhra Younas.  She jumped from “the sixth-floor balcony of her apartment building in the southern suburbs of Rome . . .  She was 33.”

CAVEAT:  You will need a strong stomach to get through the rest of this post, dear blog readers.

Ten years earlier, Ms. Younas was attacked by a man who “doused her face in acid . . .  virtually melting her mouth, nose and ears.”  The alleged attacker was her ex-husband, Bilal Khar.  The Times reports that he “was acquitted at trial nine years ago.”  After the attack, Ms. Younas’ face was a gruesome wreck, nothing remotely like her earlier self.  She fled to Rome, encouraged by the “generosity of strangers.”

“Dr. Valerio Cervelli, a plastic surgeon who led the work, said it was difficult at first ‘because her lower lip was attached to her torso, she had no neck, and her eyes were permanently open.”

Ms. Younas underwent surgery 38 times.  “After the 38th operation, in early 2011, Ms. Younas could move her mouth and one eye . . .  She ventured outside fearlessly, armed only with a bawdy sense of humor ingrained on the streets of Karachi.”

But even the most fearless of women sometimes miss home, get lonely, suffer self-doubt.  Ms. Younas wanted badly to return to Pakistan, but friends and family dissuaded her out of fears for her safety.

They should have let her return home.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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