July 10, 2013 10:28 pm
Updated: July 10, 2013 10:31 pm

Blinded UBC student plans to study law to help oppressed women


Two years ago on a family visit to Bangladesh, she was violently attacked by her husband in an attempt to end her quest for higher education.

The attack left her blinded and disfigured.

Despite the fact surgery to try to restore some of her vision failed, UBC student Rumana Monzur is still exhibiting phenomenal inner strength that has helped her get on with her life.

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A few months after the attack, her husband died in prison, and with the help of the UBC community, Rumana moved with her parents and daughter to Vancouver to recover as best she could.

“I was too depressed and I didn’t want to accept my life like that. I guess that is why I didn’t want to talk to anyone or see anyone,” says Rumana.

But in time, Rumana switched from victim to survivor. Her attacker may have succeeded in destroying her vision, but he didn’t kill her spirit or her desire to learn.

“I had lots of difficulties, but at the same time I told myself – you can still hear, you have other senses, so use those and don’t cry over something you have lost.”

Rumana returned to her studies and earlier this month, she successfully defended her master thesis on climate change and earned her degree.

“It was a big thing,” says Rumana. “I guess it is one of the reasons that you see me smiling. I didn’t believe when I became blind that I could still finish my masters.”

The professor, Fulbright scholar and grad student is now getting into law in the hopes of helping women like herself.

“It blew me away how she was able to overcome all these technological challenges and learned new tools and ways to do things,” says Lisa Sundstrom with UBC political science department. “She had to learn to do it all over again in new ways and it is an enormous feat to overcome.”

Rumana still has much to adjust to, but any fears she once had about no longer being able to lead a meaningful life are gone.

“I have the Almighty with me, so I am not scared of anything and I don’t care about anything,” says Rumana. “I will just live the way I want to live and keep smiling.”

With files from Linda Aylesworth

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