Deaths | Pakistan | Religion

Fakhra Younis Commits Suicide

4142077372She couldn't make it. She'd been a teenage dancer, working the red light district in Karachi, Pakistan, when she met her husband. He was in his mid-30s, and his name was Bilal Khar: the rich and powerful son of a governor. The pair were married.

Things didn't go well. He beat her, she said, and she left him. Afterward, as Fakhra Younis slept on her mother's couch a few feet from her five-year-old son, Khar stole into the house and poured acid on her face and body.

He was acquitted of the crime; she could not escape her new face. Despite a move to Rome and more than three dozen reconstructive surgeries over the last decade, she was destroyed. She jumped to her death from a height of six stories on March 17th.

From Emirates News:

Tehmina Durrani, Ghulam Mustafa Khar's ex-wife and [Bilal Khar's] stepmother, became an advocate for Younus after the attack, drawing international attention to the case. She said that Younus' injuries were the worst she had ever seen on an acid attack victim.

"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.''

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

Younus' ex-husband grew up in starkly different circumstances, amid the wealth and power of the country's feudal elite, and counts Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar as a cousin.

Bilal Khar once again denied carrying out the acid attack in a TV interview following her suicide, suggesting a different man with the same name committed the crime. He claimed Younus killed herself because she didn't have enough money, not because of her horrific injuries, and criticized the media for hounding him about the issue.

"You people should be a little considerate,'' said Khar. "I have three daughters and when they go to school people tease them.''

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  1. Bilal Khar once again denied carrying out the acid attack in a TV interview following her suicide, suggesting a different man with the same name committed the crime. He claimed Younus killed herself because she didn't have enough money, not because of her horrific injuries, and criticized the media for hounding him about the issue.

    "You people should be a little considerate,'' said Khar. "I have three daughters and when they go to school people tease them.''

    Self-parody has never been so infuriatingly rich.

    Posted by: Jason 2 | Mar 31, 2012 9:06:35 AM

  2. B*stard. There should be a drone prepared with his name on it.

    Posted by: TonyT | Mar 31, 2012 9:16:07 AM

  3. This is f*cking nuts!

    Posted by: Justin | Mar 31, 2012 9:24:17 AM

  4. Lovely, BKT. And cue another weekend of nasty, negative, depressing posts without a shred of hope in them.

    Posted by: AJ | Mar 31, 2012 9:29:12 AM

  5. The most depressing thing about this is it's not surprising at all. Women are little more than chattel in most Islamic nations. I know we're all supposed to keep our noses out of other countries' businesses, but it's very difficult turning a blind eye when people are denied basic rights and dignity.

    Posted by: Winston | Mar 31, 2012 9:40:41 AM

  6. It's what patriarchy looks like when it goes unchecked.

    Posted by: yonkers conquers | Mar 31, 2012 9:49:26 AM

  7. Religion, is so many cases such as this, is just justification for inhumanity, cruelty, and power.

    Religion is not needed to know, acknowledge, or respect god. God can exist without religion, but without god religion is just a system of prejudice, hatred, and fear.

    It so rare to see or meet a religious person who actually has a sanctity for all people.

    Posted by: Alexx | Mar 31, 2012 9:54:11 AM

  8. @AJ: It's not a "nasty" post nor is it negative. If someone were posting and always finding the dark side to everything, or posting, "I think the world will come to an end..." blah blah blah, that is negative. Reporting something that happened is not negative. It's reality. And it can inform your life as much or (usually) more than an endless array of shiny, happy, optimistic posts.

    Posted by: Matthew Rettenmund | Mar 31, 2012 9:55:19 AM

  9. @Alexx: Uh, I saw no mention of religion in this post or in the news articles it links to. Please don't confuse the issue.

    Posted by: InscrutableTed | Mar 31, 2012 10:12:10 AM

  10. If I were this woman I might have taken my own life too, but not before going back and killing Bilal Khar first.

    Posted by: Oliver | Mar 31, 2012 10:13:42 AM

  11. Bilal Khar should have acid poured on his face as punishment.

    Posted by: kt | Mar 31, 2012 10:16:45 AM

  12. @MATTHEW: I guarantee you that reading about some poor abused woman who had acid thrown in her face and killed herself does not inform my life on a Saturday morning. I don't bury my head in the sand. I know there are horrible things that happen, but I don't seek those stories out either. I'm simply stating I feel BKT does a search for horrible stories like this and rushes to post them.

    Posted by: AJ | Mar 31, 2012 10:44:38 AM

  13. Although a sad story, what has it to do with gay or lesbian news? I can read general news in numerous sites, but gay news is pretty limited.

    Posted by: Ken | Mar 31, 2012 10:45:12 AM

  14. "Bilal Khar should have acid poured on his face as punishment."

    KT - good thought, but I would aim a bit lower. Let him be able to show his face in public, but unable to drop his drawers in private. Much more of a suitable punishment.

    Posted by: Bob | Mar 31, 2012 11:19:19 AM

  15. Truly sad, horrible story. Am I missing the gay or lesbian angle?

    Posted by: jim | Mar 31, 2012 11:23:11 AM

  16. AJ . . . you only think that the abuse and the grave injustice perpetrated against Fakhra Younis does not inform your life, but you are wrong.

    This is not just another case of domestic abuse, another rape victim, AJ. This is not a story about a serial killer, kidnapping and raping a woman. This is not just another sensational story for which there is nor moral or purpose.

    Ultimately this is a story of the disenfranchisement of women, and of the poor, how the rich and powerful can commit heinous crimes with impunity.

    As a member of the disenfranchised, AJ it is sad that you fail to see yourself in this story.

    Think! Where would we be, where would you be today if the only people who told our stories . . . young men pistol whipped and tied naked to a fence and left to a slow, painful, lonely and friendless death in sub-zero temperatures . . . attacked, tortured, swastikas carved into your flesh, and left to die . . . bullied by your peers until life no longer held joy . . . was Towleroad!!

    Despite your assertions to the contrary, AJ, it seems to me that you are one of those people whose head is buried very deep in the sand.

    Well, I know a nice pile of warm sand that would suit you . . . and Mr KEN-what-does-this-have-to-do-with-gay-or-lesbian-news . . .

    It is called

    Posted by: Ricco | Mar 31, 2012 11:25:33 AM

  17. Dear AJ & Ken:

    Thanks to you both for reading.

    AJ -- I don't go out of my way to find specifically terrible things, though I'm not opposed to relaying terrible news. I'm just trying to post items of general interest that're likely to start a conversation. The test is this: If it's gay and vaguely interesting, it posts; if it's *not* gay but is powerfully interesting in some other way -- if it's beautiful, thought-provoking, infuriating, hilarious, heart-breaking, whatever -- then it, too, posts, provided it hasn't already been over-reported elsewhere.

    Ken -- The kind of fundamentalist Islam that's led to a culture of acid-throwing and honor-killing in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Somalia, and other cultural backwaters of the Islamic world is a mortal enemy of LGBT rights. Younis was an unwilling warrior against that foe, as well as its victim. So I think it's appropriate to note her passing.

    - BKT

    Posted by: Brandon K. Thorp | Mar 31, 2012 11:28:28 AM

  18. This is a horrible story. Oppression is a terrible thing. We think we have it bad here then we see how women (and certainly LGBT people) can be treated in countries like Pakistan. That makes me realize that, although the U. S. is not perfect, we are certainly light years ahead of these countries.

    Posted by: rick | Mar 31, 2012 12:18:26 PM

  19. I wouldn't say he "rushes to post them" since this happened two weeks ago.

    Posted by: Jerry | Mar 31, 2012 12:23:48 PM

  20. My god this is sickening and sad. Poor girl.

    Posted by: Alan | Mar 31, 2012 12:56:17 PM

  21. the patriarchy which oppresses women worldwide --by no means limited to muslim countries-- is the same insidious force which is the root cause of homophobia. this is not a mystery and that connexion makes the article germane to dialogue at TR. her story is a hard thing to know, calling to mind isabella allende's remark that "There is impunity for most crimes"

    Posted by: khan | Mar 31, 2012 12:57:12 PM

  22. This breaks my heart. And stories like this drive home the reality that misogyny is a truly abhorrent and EVIL problem on this planet.

    For all our "western-enlightenment" we still get people throwing around and promoting misogynistic ideals and demands, perpetuating the same bogus culture of male supremacy that results in things like this.

    my heart breaks.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Mar 31, 2012 1:02:14 PM

  23. And yet you defend allowing this culture to infiltrate our own, even when they have stated their intent openly to spread this cancerous religion, culture, economic, and political system.

    Posted by: David Hearne | Mar 31, 2012 2:16:42 PM

  24. was that addressed to me? if so, i'm wondering why you think "your" culture is so great. after all, you can't even put a face and name to your comments and statements. so much for "Oppressive-Islam", eh?

    time and time again, stories like this come up and right-wing closeted gays come on to trash the middle-eastern cultures and religions. UH....ok.

    if things are so much better here then how come you can't put a face to your comments? it aint Islam that's keeping you afraid of being openly gay, in America, in 2012.

    we have brave men and women putting a face to atrocities overseas, and cowardly wimps here in North America who still refuse to stand up to be counted.


    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Mar 31, 2012 2:23:46 PM

  25. Thank you, BKT, for this post.
    Who you are
    makes a difference @ Towleroad
    & the weekends
    are a good reflection of that.

    Carry on, soldier (of love).

    Posted by: Marcito | Mar 31, 2012 3:00:15 PM

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