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Pakistani daily laments fate of acid attack victim

Pakistan,Indo-Pak/Pakistan,Immigration/Law/Rights, Tue, 27 Mar 2012 IANS

Islamabad, March 27 (IANS) Pakistan should "save face" following the suicide of a Pakistani acid attack victim in Italy by ensuring that more women don't have to choose this way of marking their existence, a daily said Tuesday.


"It is about fighting against a practice that is deeply rooted in ideas of honour and shame that are inextricably entangled in our social imagination through centuries' old customs and traditions," said an editorial in the News International.


Barely a month after Pakistan won its first Oscar for a documentary on victims of acid attacks, the country's most famous face of one such assault ended her 12-year battle for justice by jumping out of her six-floor apartment in Italy.


On March 25, 2012, Fakhra Younis was buried in Karachi.


The daily recalled that her husband, Bilal Khar, a former member of provincial assembly and son of former Punjab governor Ghulam Mustafa Khar, was arrested in 2002 and charged with attempted murder by allegedly throwing acid on her. He was acquitted in 2003.


Fakhra had shifted to Rome where she had been undergoing treatment for acid-scarred tissues, including multiple corrective surgeries.


"Ironically, her death comes just three months after the Senate unanimously passed the Acid Control and Acid Crime Prevention Bill 2010, recommending 14-year to lifetime imprisonment and fines of up to Rs.1 million for perpetrators of the crime," said the daily.


Fakhra was delighted when filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy's documentary "Saving Face" won an Oscar. Yet Fakhra yearned to go back to Pakistan: "If I don't get back in my lifetime, promise to take my dead body home," she told Tehmina Durrani, Pakistani writer and activist who intervened to help shift Fakhra to Italy.


The anger in the editorial is palpable when it says that the horror of the case does not end here.


"Khar came on television shortly after Fakhra's death became headline news and just stopped short of saying she deserved the fate she had got.


"Thanks to Mr Khar we know three things: that you deserve to have acid thrown on you if you are a prostitute; you deserve to die in this manner if you have sexual relations with someone; and it's the end of you if you dare to invite the wrath of a jilted feudal," it said.


"Nothing much will happen now because the victim came from a humble background, hailed from Karachi's red light area and made the mistake of crossing the redline into 'respected' society," it added.


The editorial went on to say that if Pakistan wants "to save face, it has to ensure that more women don't have to choose this way of marking their existence".


"Let's honour and protect this country's women and take Fakhra's death to remember the hundreds of girls who suffer the same fate every year. We couldn't save Fakhra; but let's save them," it said.



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