Sometimes I Can’t Handle the Truth: Rumana Monzur’s Story

Rumana Monzur is described, by all who know her, as a brilliant, gentle, courteous, pious woman. She is ambitious and intelligent, a Fulbright scholar and political science graduate student, and is pursuing her Master’s Degree at the University of British Columbia. She is a wife and loving mother to her five-year-old daughter whom she would phone at least once, sometimes twice, every day. She left her husband and daughter in Bangladesh while she worked toward a better life for her family through education.

Rumana Monzur will never see her daughter again.

On June 5, 2011, 33 year-old Rumana, who had returned to her home in Dhaka to visit her much missed child and family, was locked, with her daughter, in the bedroom of her home, thrown onto the bed and brutally attacked (allegedly) by her husband. In an evidently unfounded jealous rage, he beat her, gouged out her eyes and bit off the end of her nose. Rumana’s five-year old daughter was witness to this savagery.

From her hospital bed, where she awaits surgery to rebuild her nose, Rumana said, “he has made my world dark. I will never see my daughter again.” Doctors who assessed her situation have concluded that nothing can be done for her vision. She is permanently blind. Her husband is currently in police custody.

Her vision is gone but the nightmare continues for both her and her daughter. Medical science has the capacity to rebuild her face and her bruises will heal but her, and her daughter’s, psychological road to recovery will be arduous.

Scared Child Photo © D. Sharon Pruitt

© D. Sharon Pruitt

Domestic violence is pandemic and under-reported. Each year, in the United States alone, over 4 million women experience physical assault or rape perpetrated by an intimate partner. Annually, over 2,300 deaths are reported. Medical care costs top $6 billion and this does not include the overall socioeconomic impact of lost productivity and family trauma.

Globally, this statistic becomes even more mind boggling. In many countries, the deification of women is, paradoxically, the ‘excuse for abuse’;  women should not be tossed into the messy world of men but protected from it. Should they ‘venture into it’ by pursuing an education, becoming employed, or driving a car, they are suspect and punished.

So. Now what?

We can be shocked and appalled at Rumana’s story; we can sit aghast at the details of this horrific attack. But I have a better idea. Take a moment to sit quietly to watch your child run through the garden chasing a butterfly. Stand next to your beloved, look into their eyes and see them smile back at you. Look across the table at your parents as they laugh. Take those moments and imagine them gone. Forever.

Imagine that beautiful child cowering in the corner of a room as she watches the centre of her universe being viciously brutalized. Picture your beloved, without reason or provocation, raising arms against you. Envision your parents tormented with grief and guilt as you lie broken. This is the beginning of empathy.

Rumana Monzur is strong. She is fighting back, working hard for her recovery so she can return to British Columbia with her daughter and continue her education and rebuild her life. The hurdles she faced have been raised; she has been blinded not only by this attack but also by terrible psychological trauma. She and her daughter will need support to triumph over this … now what? means translating your empathy into action.

Outrage is skin.
Empathy is flesh.
Action is heart.

Please help Rumana and her daughter triumph over tragedy. If you’re able, please give your support to Rumana through donations to her recovery or by sharing this post – however your soul moves you.

Thank you.
Namaste.

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24 Responses to Sometimes I Can’t Handle the Truth: Rumana Monzur’s Story

  1. Dabney Porte says:

    Wow…

    What an amazing post that touched me to the core! In all situations that occur in our lives, we can learn and grow. I simply loved how you called us all to turn empathy into action. I applaud you Tobey. YOU are an inspiration. Thank you for sharing and making a difference each day.

    xoxo
    Dabney

    • tobeydeys says:

      Dabney – since I jumped onto Twitter, you have set a brilliant example on how to be kind, loving, sincere, and generous. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself; it means the world to me.

      ❤ you and deepest gratitude – xo

  2. Bruce Sallan says:

    Tobey; Your post brought tears to my eyes. Tears I can see in the mirror. Given having just spent some joyous time with you in New York, I didn’t read this expecting the power of your writing or the intensity and value of its message. Good job; good work…thank you for sharing this story!

    • tobeydeys says:

      Thank you, Bruce, for your thoughtfulness (as always!). I learned about this story when I returned from that fabulous week in NYC with you and everyone. It is, of course, something I had to send out and hope to move people to help Rumana. I wish these stories didn’t have to be told … it was a very difficult thing for me to write and yes, through tears, too.
      You are a great man and a wonderful friend – I deeply appreciate you, Bruce!

  3. linktrap.com says:

    Tough read – but it was important to read!

  4. Dave Reynolds says:

    I am horrified and feel helpless after reading Tobey’s post. When will this uncontrolled violence against women of all cultures stop. Just STOP IT!!!!!

    Dave Reynolds
    @dave997theriver

    • tobeydeys says:

      Dave – thank you for your thoughtfulness – for reading and RT’ing and connecting. It’s hard to know that this abhorrent violence is perpetrated – daily. Please don’t feel helpless ~ you can help; if you’re able to contribute to Rumana’s recovery that’s great (she has a long hard road ahead). If not, please continue to share her story with everyone who may be able to help.

      Thank you again for your heartfelt comment – I appreciate you and your kindness!
      peace

  5. tobey, tweeting/posting around. appreciate your care and compassion in writing and shinning light on this story. namaste josepf

  6. Lynn Ponder says:

    Tobey wowww you had me from the beginning of this story! As I continued reading it touched me deeply because we live in our safe world and when we read of these cruel reality life situations it reinforces the need to continue our efforts to spread goodness and help those who need it most. Your post unites us to collectively to help in whatever ways we are able to. I pray that Rumana is reunited with her child and that she continues her journey of recovery. You are a wonderful human being and I am grateful to have met you dearest Tobey!
    My love and respect,
    Lynn

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  10. osakasaul says:

    Very nice thing you did with this article. I bet it will help Rumana’s cause – as well as helping to halt domestic violence worldwide. Great to know you through Triberr.

  11. Keri Jaehnig says:

    Tobey,

    Great post. Artful statement. Profound for your visitor.

    I hope this brings a healthy sum in donation. You should feel good knowing you have educated others on quite an important cause.

    Great getting to know you through Triberr. Thank you!

    ~Keri

    • tobeydeys says:

      Thanks so much, Keri ~ it is one of my life’s mandates to shine light on causes and, hopefully, my little spark will motivate others to, at least think, about what is going on outside their own walls.
      I thank you for reading and for your thoughts – I appreciate you and happy to have the opportunity to know you better.
      namaste

  12. susan borst says:

    Tobey – Very nice post, thanks for sharing. My first thought was whether this was “domestic violence” or a true “honor crime.” A web search suggested the latter may be at play here. I have recently been advising The AHA Foundation in social media and have learned more about the distinction between domestic violence and honor crimes. The AHA Foundation “works to protect women and girls in the West from crimes and oppression justified in the name of religion and culture such as Honor Violence, Honor Killings, Forced Marriages and Genital Mutilation.” Ayaan Hirsi Ali established the non-profit foundation in 2007 to protect women against the type of violence extracted on Monzur. Honor crimes are different vs. domestic violence in a number of ways, but mainly because they are based on “centuries-old legal and cultural codes” and, importantly, “the perpetrators do not believe their actions are criminal, but rather justified on religious and cultural ground…often planned with the support of family/community – sometimes even with the victim’s family support.” The victim “is perceived to have caused the violence through her own behavior.” This IS an issue in the West – and all across the US. For more information, please visit and support the AHA Foundation (theAHAfoundation.org; also on twitter and Facebook.)

    Thanks again, Tobey.

  13. tobeydeys says:

    Thank you, Susan, for your considered and thoughtful comment. I would say that, theoretically, you make a point about the difference between ‘domestic violence’ and ‘honour crime’. However, I would submit that it is a question of semantics. The Western abuser also feels that his/her “honour” has been compromised – whether real or imagined, he/she maintains that he/she has been maligned in the eyes of family/church/society/etc. Whilst ‘legal codes’ may no longer exist in the West (i.e. brides as chattel) as they continue to do in other countries, culturally, I believe Western culture plays a part in perpetuating the oppression, therefore establishing a cultural ‘allowance’ for abuse.
    The point of difference between ‘domestic’ and ‘honour’, to my mind, is moot when considering the psychological state of the abuser. The abuser feels justified in their actions, and is often, if not directly aided, then abetted and enabled by family/community across cultures.
    Thank you, too, for the reference to the AHA Foundation; I will eagerly learn more about them and support them throughout my efforts here and at click2cause.com.

    Honoured and respect to you, Susan
    namaste

    • susan borst says:

      I was invited to the first ever Honor Violence Conference which was held at the John Jay Criminal College in NYC last month. I am by no means an expert on the subject, but I learned a lot that day, as did lead NYC police reps, social workers and press. Of interest was the Keynote speaker, Nazir Afzal, Crown Prosecution Service Director, London, who talked about efforts specifically against honor crimes. The UK has a Forced Marriage Police Unit where they “rescue” over 450 women a year. The UK has done a good job at systematically tracking honor crimes and labeling them as such – distinct from “domestic violence.” . Also, Keynote speakers Laura Reckart and Christopher J. Boughey, Prosecutor and Detective, respectively, in the Arizona v. Almaleki case -” the first case in the U.S in which an honor violence theory was successfully used to obtain a conviction of a father who murdered his daughter.”
      The distinction between domestic violence and honor crime was made – I liken it to the distinction made for “hate crimes.” It’s a deep and important topic for sure and it most definitely exists in the West -including the USA, where the issue is gaining awareness based on growing incidence.
      Monzur’s horrific story, and the very “uncharacteristic” support from her family/community, will hopefully bring this issue into greater light because the ultimate answer to this is education. Social media has already played a great role in this. I wish her well.
      Happy to talk more offline about this.

      • tobeydeys says:

        I would love to spend some time talking with you about this ~ thank for extending the offer. I’ll DM you my contact info and look forward to learning from you.

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