Acid attack survivor Muskan Khatun wins 2021 International Women of Courage Award

Published On: March 5, 2021 09:45 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, March 5: The acid attack survivor Muskan Khatun has been named for the US State Department's International Women of Courage Award this year.

US Ambassador to Nepal Randy Berry said Khatun is being awarded for her work to end acid attacks. She will be the first Nepali to win the prestigious award. US Ambassador Berry in a social media post said Khatun will be youngest recipient ever of this Award.

US First Lady Dr. Jill Biden and Secretary of  State Tony Blinken will be presenting the award to her at a special virtual ceremony to be held on March 8.

Acid attack survivor Muskan Khatun had endured months of harassment from her perpetrators before she was attacked with acid in September, 2019. Khatun was on her way to her school when three local youths splashed acid on her at Ganeshman Chowk in Birgunj. Police said Khatun had rejected ‘love proposal’ from of one of the attackers before she became their target. 

Muskan was at the age of 15 when she became the victim of an acid attack for rejecting a boy’s advances.  She suffered severe burns on her face, chest, and hands.  Her recovery was painful and continues to this day.

"Despite this, Muskan turned a tragedy into an opportunity to bring about change in Nepal. Facing threats and social pressure, Muskan lobbied for stronger laws and punishments for acid attacks. She met with Prime Minister K.P. Oli who called for a new law to be drafted for acid attacks, and issued an ordinance punishing perpetrators and regulating the sale of chemicals," said the US Embassy in Kathmandu said in its official website.

Now in its 15th year, the IWOC Award recognizes women around the globe who have demonstrated exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for peace, justice, human rights, gender equality, and women’s empowerment, often at great personal risk and sacrifice, accordung to US Embassy in Kathmandu.  Previous winners include Malala Yousafzai, the youngest Nobel laureate, for her advocacy work for women and girls in Pakistan.

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