Acid Victim Fakhra Younus Takes Her Own Life


33-year-old Fakhra Younus, who was severely injured in May 2000 when her then-husband poured acid all over her, took her own life on March 17. She jumped from the sixth floor of her apartment in Rome, where she had been living to receive treatment. Younus had received surgery 39 times to treat her injuries from the attack, which destroyed her mouth and nose so that she had difficulty breathing. Her body reached Karachi in her native Pakistan on Sunday; philanthropist Abdul Sattar Edhi, Fakhira’s relatives and human right activists and politicians were present at the airport to receive her body.

Large numbers of women also protested at the airport and demanded that the accused, Younus’ ex-husband, Bilal Khar, be arrested. Khar is a former Pakistani lawmaker and the son of Ghulam Mustafa Khar, a former governor of Pakistan’s largest province, Punjab. He has publicly denied carrying out the attack and said so again on a TV interview following Younus’ suicide, claiming that a different man with the same name committed this violent crime. But Khar has apparently used his political and other connections to avoid prosecution, a too-common occurrence in Pakistan.

Younus met Bilil Khar while she was a teenage dancing girl working in the red light district in Karachi. Khar was in his mid-30s and his marriage with Younus was his third. They were married for three years before she left him, saying that she was abused, both physically and verbally. Younus says that Khar attacked her with acid one night in 2000 while she was her mother’s house and in the presence of her 5-year-old son by another man.

Tehmina Durrani, the ex-wife of Bilal Khar’s father and his stepmother, became an advocate for Younus. She described the acid attack on her as the worst she had ever seen, says The Huffington Post:

“So many times we thought she would die in the night because her nose was melted and she couldn’t breathe,” said Durrani, who wrote a book about her own allegedly abusive relationship with the elder Khar. “We used to put a straw in the little bit of her mouth that was left because the rest was all melted together.”

She said Younus, whose life had always been hard, became a liability to her family, for whom she was once a source of income.

“Her life was a parched stretch of hard rock on which nothing bloomed,” Durrani wrote in a column in The News after Younus’ suicide.

According to the Aurat Foundation, some 8,500 acid attacks, forced marriages and other acts of violence were committed against women in Pakistan in 2011. Younus’ suicide occurred only a month after Pakistani filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy received an Oscar for a documentary about acid attack victims. Younus reportedly feared that she would be forgotten as she had not been profiled for the documentary — let us make sure that she is remembered, for her suffering and bravery to speak out against such inhumane violence against women.


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Photo of a survivor of an acid attack in Bangladesh by DFID - UK Department for International Development


Rin S.
Rin S5 years ago

This is such a tragic story. He must be punished, and I can't believe he was set free.

Myriam G.
Myriam G5 years ago

sleep well little child, the Lord holds thee now

Marie Therese Hanulak

Poor, poor abused soul. She had nothing to live for. If I lived in Pakistan among those male animals, I'd commit suicide also, and sooner than she did.
The ignorant brute who did this won't even get a slap on the wrist!!

AbdulAziz A.
AbdulAziz A5 years ago

Here we go, Rob and JAY with his pearls of wisdom. Don,t blame the religion - it is the lack of a faith that these idiotic men carry out these cruel and callous acts of barbarity.

They need to be dealt with the severest punishments to deter such acts. This is where I would think the capital punishment will be a fitting action.

These and inhumane acts and no one can or should pretend to justify them. This is the ultimate injustice highest state of DISHONOUR. These men need to be ashamed of them selves as they bring shame to the male gender.

Ernest R.
Ernest R5 years ago

@ Barbara M.. “These honor killings have gone on for years and the men get away with murder all the time.”. Of course not in the US of A. Recently a Muslim woman was found murdered in her home. A note found there claimed that a white bigot had committed the murder. Yeah, right.

CL L5 years ago

I don't know what to say I am heart broken...I cannot believe that in plain 21st century these practices are alive, well and dismissed as a cultural custom that is completely preposterous; we as an "intelligent race" need to stop, condemn and change that mentality we need to help bring light to those people specially the little boys and girls so it doesn’t continue to perpetuate….may she finally rest in peace.

Rob and Jay B.
Jay S5 years ago

There are so many desperate women in these countries who have no rights, but are just property of men. And so many of them commit suicide as the only way of escaping their enslavement. Such a tragedy.

Pakistan is ranked by the UN as the worst place in the world to be a woman! That's saying something! Worse than Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq etal????

The majority of women in prison in Pakistan are there because they had the nerve to complain of being raped. They are treated as sex criminals (adultresses) because Allah said that if a rape victim can't produce 4 male Muslim witnesses and if the rapist doesn't confess, then she is a liar and she is subject to being stoned in some Muslim occupied countries, but 'just' prison, rape and abuse in Pakistan.

Mira M.
Mira M5 years ago

And a husband? He will marry again or what? No punishment?

Lynn Squance
Lynn Squance5 years ago

Such a senseless act against a woman, and a sad end to her sad life.

I am thankful that I live in a country where this kind of behaviour is punished in court. Recently, 3 members of the Shafia family, father, mother and son, were sentenced to 20 years in prison for the honour killing of their 3 teenage daughters and sisters, and Shafia's first wife. They were from Afghanistan and had physically relocated to Canada, but culturally were still in Afghanistan.

Parvez Zuberi
Parvez Zuberi5 years ago

The man responsibly should be given sever punishment irrespective that he is the brother of present Foreign Minister of Pakistan MS Hina Khar