UBC student blinded by acid attack represents epitome of International Women's Day

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Rumana Monzur

Nearly three years after being brutally attacked by her husband in Bangladesh, Rumana Monzur has overcome all obstacles and was able to complete her Master’s degree at the University of British Columbia.

In June 2011, her husband attacked her in Dhaka, Bangladesh over an argument on her plans to continue her education at UBC.

At the time of the incident, she had lost all hope that she would be able to complete her Masters thesis at UBC. A grassroots campaign led by UBC students and faculty members drew international attention, led to public rallies in Canada and Bangladesh, and raised $95,000 to cover her medical and living expenses.

The entire initiative to bring her back to Canada for medical treatment was spearheaded by UBC President and Vice-Chancellor Stephen Toope. Monzur and members of her family received special visas to return to Canada while her husband, Hasan Sayeed Sumon, was charged with attempted murder of his wife and later died in a Bangladesh prison.

Despite all the drama and hardships, she not only completed her Master’s thesis in Political Science but was also accepted to UBC’s law school. She plans to use her further education to help others like her who have been a victim of violence.

Today, on International Women’s Day, Monzur will be headlining Abbotsford’s “1 Billion Rising 4 Justice” event. According to the Facebook event page, “the amalgamation of International Women’s Day and One Billion Rising is a day to celebrate the inspirational and brave work women around the world are doing to secure women’s and girl’s rights and create better and equitable societies.”

The free event at Thunderbird Civic Plaza and The Reach Gallery Museum is organized by numerous women’s rights and equity groups including students from the University of the Fraser Valley. It will include an open-mic for women to share their stories, guest speakers, a film screening, and a keynote address by Monzur.

Image: UBC Public Affairs

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