Zarka’s husband sliced off her nose. A surgeon offered to restore it for free


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Swaminathan Natarajan and Noor Shafaq – BBC World Service

After more than 10 weeks of agony, Zarka saw a ray of hope.

In a small hand-held mirror, she could see her new nose. It was covered with stitches and blood clots, but instantly she felt good. Two months had passed since her husband had taken a pocket knife to her face.

“I am happy I got my nose back,” she told the doctors, as they replaced her dressing.

“It is good,” she said. “Very good.”

Domestic violence towards women is common in Afghanistan. One national survey cited by the UN Population Fund found that 87% of Afghan women had experienced at least one form of physical, sexual or psychological violence in their lifetime.

In the worst cases, women are attacked with acid or with knives. Often, the perpetrator is their husband or another relative.

Zarka, who is 28, had been married for ten years, with a six-year-old son, when her husband took a knife to her face. She was used to being beaten, but she did not expect it would go this far.

“He was telling me that I was an immoral person,” she said. “I told him this is not true.”

Zarka allowed the BBC to follow her recovery, and she described in interviews the domestic abuse which preceded the brutal knife attack.

Zarka was placed under local anaesthetic for the operation
Zarka was placed under local anaesthetic for the operation


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Zarka looks into a hand mirror after her surgery
Zarka looks into a hand mirror after her surgery

OZ Naturals

Zarka will require further surgery to continue the process- surgery she cannot afford
Zarka will require further surgery to continue the process- surgery she cannot afford

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Zarka said she was happy with the outcome of her reconstruction surgery
Zarka said she was happy with the outcome of her reconstruction surgery


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