Acid attacks against women have become more common in Afghanistan and other countries. Here, a 17-year-old victim in Kabul rests as her mother looks on.
Credit: Shah Marai

A Pakistani woman who had been the victim of a well-publicized acid attack 12 years ago recently committed suicide. Fakhra Younus underwent more than three dozen surgeries, the Associated Press reported

In a suicide note, Younus wrote that she was ending her life because of "the silence of law on the atrocities and insensitivity of Pakistani rulers," according to the News Daily

She then jumped from the sixth floor of her apartment. 

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In 1998, Younus was an 18-year-old working in Karachi's red light district when she met Bilal Khar, the son of politically powerful Ghulam Mustafa Khar. The two married after six months, the Express Tribune reported. But Khar was verbally and physically abusive. Younus eventually left him. 

Younus claimed that she was sleeping at her mother's house in May 2000 when Khar entered and poured acid on her. Her 5-year-old son from a different man witnessed the attack as well, the Associated Press reported.

Pakistani writer and activist Tehmina Durrani wrote that Younus' attack was the worst she'd ever seen: “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."

Durrani, the ex-wife of Khar's father, famously wrote a book about the Khar family and her traumatic marriage. She became an advocate for Younus after the attack, the Daily Mail reported. Durrani convinced the Pakistani government to send Younus to Italy, where she spent the rest of her life. Meanwhile, her alleged attacker continued to live a comfortable life back in Pakistan. Khar denies any involvement and was cleared of charges in 2003.

The news comes after Pakistan won its first Oscar recently for a documentary about acid attacks, called "Saving Face." Younus was not profiled in the film.

"The saddest part is that she realized that the system in Pakistan was never going to provide her with relief or remedy," Nayyar Shabana Kiyani, an activist at The Aurat Foundation, told the AP. "She was totally disappointed that there was no justice available to her."

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