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Woman maimed by suitor fears more reprisals

By Arwa Damon, CNN
  • Pakistani woman Fazeelat Bibi disfigured in attack led by rejected suitor
  • The man who wanted to be her husband sliced off her nose and slashed her ear
  • She fears more reprisals after two attackers sentenced to having noses cut off
  • She says she can't sleep and her dreams of a family are in ruins

Zafarkey, Pakistan (CNN) -- Fazeelat Bibi peels back the white bandage, exposing her mutilated face. In the place of her nose are two gaping dark holes surrounded by raw pink flesh in the final stages of healing.

"I cant sleep without fear," she says, her hands twisting beneath her light colored chador. "Whenever I try to sleep, I see the whole brutal act in front of my eyes."

The 22-year-old used to be the family jokester, the youngest girl out of her six siblings, and her mother's favorite. But a chilling act of violence destroyed her life and killed her spirit.

These days she spends most of her time in silence, rarely venturing outside of the house. Her voice is strong, angry as she tells us she wants her story told.

It all happened in the small village of Zafarkey, outside of Lahore, surrounded by brick kilns and bright green fields.

Fazeelat's cousin, Sher Mohammed wanted to marry her and came with family members to ask her parents for her hand. "My family refused," Fazeelat told us.

"My eldest sister was already married into their family and she was not happy and was facing a lot of problems because of their family. My parents also thought they were bad people."

She says that Sher Mohammed, his brother, and other members of his family started to threaten her, saying they would destroy her face.

Video: Gang maimed woman after rejection
I just want to see the same that happened to me happen to [them]. We are still afraid.
--Fazeelat Bibi

"We thought that maybe that would harm my brothers. But we never thought that these cruel people would commit this type of a ruthless act," she said.

In late September, a month and a half after the rejected proposal, Fazeelat was on her way home from work at the brick kiln with her brother and elderly father.

"It was around 6:30 a.m." she said, softly biting her lower lip. "Five people jumped out of the crops. I recognized them and I begged them not to beat me, but they said they were going to kill me."

Her brother, Sabir Ali, said he was helpless, held at gunpoint along with this father. "We begged them to just take my sister's gold earrings, but they told us to keep quiet or they would kill us," he said. He watched the entire horrific act.

Fazeelat said: "They tried to strangle me. They used a rope and one of them pulled it from either side. I cried out, but then they covered my mouth."

Then she says Sher Mohammed came at her with the knife. "They said "we will kill you. Since your mother did not accept our marriage proposal, we are going to leave you in a state where no one will want you,"" Fazeelat remembers them saying.

It was Sher Mohammed, the man who wanted to be her husband, that sliced off her nose and slashed her ear. She lost consciousness.

"When I came to my senses at the hospital, I was still crying out, begging them to stop, saying the same things I was saying at the time of the attack. All I could see was the attackers in front of my eyes." she said.

She also screamed for her mother only to learn more terrible news -- her mother was dead.

Her brother said she fell to the ground after seeing her daughter's mutilated face.

As we look at the only photo that Fazeelat has with her mother, she says she wishes she had died.

Police so far have arrested three of her five assailants. Two have already been tried and convicted.

Their sentence: to be subjected to the same mutilation as Fazeelat. They are also to serve life in prison and pay a fine equivalent to $8,300.

This unusual sentence is in accordance with the Pakistani Penal Code, a blend of British and Islamic laws. Connect the World: Does revenge punishment work?

Prosecutor Chaudhry Jahangir explained that the mutilation sentence needs to be confirmed by the High Court. "I have no doubt in my mind. I think they are guilty," he said. "They committed the offense and they are rightly punished."

Villagers and local leaders tell us they also support the court's decision -- they believe it will act as a deterrent. "I have four daughters," one mans said. "They need to be protected."

Rauf Ahmed, a local elected official jumped into the conversation. "Let me explain something to you. In our society women are weak, we all agree on that. So it's up to the government to make sure that women are able to get justice and revenge.

"We want this type of a strict punishment, so that it will be a lesson to other potential offenders so they won't dare to do such a thing in the future."

Fazeelat says her future is ruined. Her dream of a nice house and a family in ruins.

"I just want to see the same that happened to me happen to the accused. We are still afraid. They committed something so brutal with me, they could do anything," she said.

Two of her attackers are still at large. And she says her family is afraid of even worse retribution.

Fazeelat took us along on her first visit back to the scene of the attack. "I want you to see just how ruthless and merciless they were with me," she tells us on the way.

She points out the attacker's house. It's right across the street. Villagers we pass by simply stare. We arrive at the scene in minutes.

"I wanted to bring you here because I want you to see just how merciless and ruthless of an act was committed against me," she said.

She gets animated, gesturing across the field, pointing to the wall that she says the attackers smashed her head against before they mutilated her. Suddenly she stops. "My body is shivering," she says. "I am so afraid."

The vivid memory is too much for her to bear, and she faints.

Her sister hugs her close while her brother expertly unclenches her locked jaw. He has done this many times before. Fazeelat gasps for breath.