the end of a fairy tale

When she was a beautiful 18 year old, Fakhra Yunus thought she had found her knight in shining armor.  Three years later, when she left him because of domestic abuse, he threw acid on her face in retaliation.  In front of her five year old son.

This week Fakhra jumped off a balcony and committed suicide, in protest that her abusive husband, an influential man in her country of Pakistan, had not been held to account.

Here are some of the details of her story:  “In 1998, Yunus was an 18 year old resident of Napier Road’s Bulbul Bazar, Karachi’s red light district, when she met the then Muzaffargarh MPA Bilal Khar.

They both got married after a six month relationship. This was Bilal’s third marriage, while Yunus had a three year old son from an earlier liaison.

Little did Yunus know, that this was not meant to be her fairytale marriage, since shortly after the marriage, she faced both physical and mental abuse by Khar, which lasted for three years before she eventually escaped and moved in with her mother.

An infuriated Khar, with his bruised ego, took ‘revenge’ by pouring acid over her on May 14, 2000, as her five year old son watched. The attack left her severely burned, particularly her face. She, however, survived the attack but not before spending three months in intensive care.

Khar used his political influence to evade arrest and absconded, while Yunus’s family faced difficulty in registering an FIR against him.

On October 31, 2002, Khar was eventually arrested, but released in 2003 on Rs 200,000 bail.

In Yunus’ time of despair, social activist Tehmina Durrani came to the forefront to assist her. Durrani, ironically, was once married to Ghulam Mustafa Khar.

After the then government showed reluctance in helping Yunus, Durrani convinced the Italian government to help her, by not only providing asylum but also sponsoring her treatment there. Khar, leveraging his influence, had vehemently tried to stop her exit from Pakistan, but failed.

After over a decade of undergoing treatment in Italy, an emotionally scarred Fakhra, lost hope and committed suicide by jumping out of her sixth floor residence.

Khar currently resides in his ancestral home in Kot Addu.”

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