News / USA

Pakistani Acid-Attack Victim Enjoys New Life in Texas

Pakistani Acid-Attack Victim Enjoys New Life in Texasi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
Greg Flakus
August 01, 2012 4:19 PM
Among the new US citizens sworn in at a ceremony in Houston Tuesday was a 26-year-old woman from Pakistan who came to the United States after she had acid thrown in her face 10 years ago. Doctors in Houston performed more than a score of surgeries to restore her face and, although still scarred, she is moving on with her life and trying to help other victims of violence back in her homeland. VOA's Greg Flakus has more from Houston.
Julie Aftab
Greg Flakus
HOUSTON — Among the new U.S. citizens sworn in at a ceremony in Houston Tuesday was a 26-year-old woman from Pakistan who came to the United States after she had acid thrown in her face 10 years ago. Doctors in Houston performed more than a score of surgeries to restore her face and, although still scarred, she is moving on with her life and trying to help other victims of violence back in her homeland. 
 
After taking the oath of citizenship, Julie Aftab celebrated. 

“I have waited eight-and-a-half years to hear those words, and those words mean so much to me,” she said.
 
Ten years ago, when she was 16, two men in Pakistan threw acid in Julie Aftab's face because, she says, she is a Christian. 
 
She says her attackers then spread a false rumor that she had insulted Islam, and mobs threatened her and her family.
 
“All my friends turned against me, and they set my house on fire,” Aftab explained. 
 
She has lived for the past eight years with Lee and Gloria Erwin, whom she calls her uncle and aunt.
 
“We have been blessed having her in our home," Erwin said. "We really have been blessed.”
 
“My parents gave me birth, but both of them brought me to this world.  He spent many nights sitting with me and teaching me English," explained Aftab. "People say they do not see angels, but I see angels around me every day.”
 
She still misses her homeland and her family, but Julie Aftab feels estranged from Pakistan. “I am not ashamed of being Pakistani, but Pakistan is ashamed of me. They did not want me, I think,” she said.
 
Although she is now safe, Aftab aids efforts in Pakistan to help abused women. 
 
“They are women.  That does not mean they are not human beings," Aftab explained. "They are somebody's daughter, somebody's sister.”
 
One man, a Pakistani Muslim who also became a U.S. citizen at the ceremony, apologized for what happened to her.
 
But she says she does not blame all Muslims, and, as a Christian, believes she must forgive the men who attacked her. 

“If I hate them, then I will create more hate, and I do not want to do that,” she said.
 
Another new citizen from Pakistan, Nawaid Isa, says he hopes fanatics in his birth country will stop misusing Islam as a pretext for violence against people of other faiths. 

“People do not understand what our religion teaches, they do not know about the Quran. They do not know that the Quran teaches respect for everybody, respect for other religions,” Isa added.
 
Pakistani lawmakers have tried to curb acid attacks with tougher sentences, but they continue, with Muslim women being the most frequent victims. 
 
Aftab attends a local college, while working full time and taking part in church activities.
 
As is no doubt true for other people who were sworn in as citizens Tuesday, Julie Aftab is not thinking so much about the past, she is focused on the future. 

You May Like

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportionali
X
Aru Pande
December 19, 2014 1:45 AM
The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportional

The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid