Born and bred in Pakistan, Allah Rakhi was a 16-year-old bride in a violent marriage during the late seventies. She would often become the victim of her husband’s rage and get beaten black and blue. When she tried to get away from him he beat her up, slashed her ankle and cut off her nose to punish her.
She spent 32 years of her life hiding her face from people and raising her kids. Her husband got arrested and jailed, but was set free after six months. Right after his release from the jail he divorced her. She got lucky some years later when she married a truck driver who was good to her and she was able to spend some good years with him till he died about eight years ago.
Things changed for the 51-year –old Allah Rakhi three years ago when she got help from the Acid Survivors Foundation and Dr Hamid Hassan who is a Burn and Reconstructive Surgeon at the Benazir Bhutto Hospital Rawalpindi. She went through two surgeries but she can finely breathe through her nose. The doctors took a piece of her rib and some skin off her forehead and used that to construct a nose for her.
‘When I saw my new nose I just wept and wept,’ said Allah Rakhi, over come with emotions.
Unfortunately cases like these are not rare in countries like Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, to name a few. These incidents are normally frowned upon but tolerated because of the male dominant societies and weak legal and justice systems. Many organizations, mostly NGOs are however, now working to help these women.