New York Times, Blinded by Her Husband, She Fights for Justice (and Aces Law School):
During the summer break from her graduate studies in Canada, Rumana Monzur returned home to Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, to tell her husband she wanted a divorce. He reacted with leaden silence.
But a few hours later, he strode into the room where she was working on her thesis, locked the door and pinned her down on the bed. Then he dug his fingers into her eyes, blinding her. He also bit off the tip of her nose, and tore flesh from her cheeks and her right arm.
“I won’t let you be someone else’s and I won’t let you study,” she recalled him saying as their terrified 5-year-old daughter tried to pull him off Ms. Monzur’s chest. “He told me in a hissing voice, ‘I wanted to kill you with acid, but good for you, I couldn’t find any.’”
In the days and weeks after, Ms. Monzur endured multiple surgeries and a smear campaign by her husband and his family, who tried to paint her as the aggressor in the attack. Refusing to stay silent, Ms. Monzur demanded justice from her hospital bed.
The savage assault and her outspoken defiance of female victimization made headlines in Bangladesh and Canada, galvanizing public support that prompted the Canadian government to allow Ms. Monzur to immigrate with her daughter and parents in 2011.
And here in Vancouver she again garnered attention in the news media, earning a master’s degree from the University of British Columbia in 2013. This year she graduated from the university’s law school. Today, she is studying for the bar exam while working at DLA Piper, a prominent law firm.
As reports about the abuse of male power have left much of the West reeling, Ms. Monzur’s story underscores the grave perils faced by women in the developing world who dare to challenge men’s authority, and the strength it takes to fight back.
After her first year of law school, she had a summer internship with DLA Piper, which led to a full-time job. Ms. Monzur is aided by software that translates text to speech, allowing her to do the same legal research and litigation any new lawyer must tackle.
“Rumana doesn’t do anything different but she does it differently,” said Mary Ruhl, the firm’s director of professional development. “She makes it seem easy but I know it’s not.”
Still, Ms. Monzur’s blindness presents obstacles. She cannot witness a will, examine photos or sign documents, so in those instances, the firm brings in other lawyers to act as her eyes.
“It was a steep learning curve for us, too,” said Ms. Ruhl, recalling how she told the other lawyers “don’t be shy to give her work.” But the initial wariness vanished as Ms. Monzur proved herself. “Rumana brings a maturity other law students don’t have.” ...
If anything, the trauma she experienced in Bangladesh has only motivated her to defy expectations of what a blind, single woman can do. “In the hospital, everyone was saying, ‘Oh, poor her,’ and I felt like it was the end of my life,” she recalled. “Of course, me being me, I hated that attitude.”
So instead of grieving, she has focused on living. “I want people to see the real me, with a smiling face, not someone who lost her sight and completely lost herself,” she said. “Everyone has challenges. This is mine. Life is a celebration, I still believe that. You just have to make the best use of it.”