Support continues to grow for a University of British Columbia graduate student allegedly blinded by her husband.

Rumana Monzur, who is pursuing a master's degree in political science in Vancouver, was on a visit home to Bangladesh when police say that on June 5 she was attacked by her enraged husband, who gouged her eyes with his hands and bit off part of her nose.

Monzur, who was on leave from her assistant professor position in Bangladesh, is recovering in LabAid Hospital in the capital, Dhaka, where doctors say her vision appears to have been damaged beyond repair.

Her husband, Hasan Sayeed Sumon, is in police custody.

The couple have a five-year-old daughter, Anusheh, who now is being looked after by Monzur's parents.

"It's like you're watching a horror movie, that's what was going on in my mind," said friend Saif Islam in Vancouver after watching CBC News television report on Monzur. "How can that happen in this century?"

Studies might continue

Islam and his wife were a first point of contact for Monzur when she arrived in Vancouver in September 2010, helping her settle and get acquainted with the local Bangladeshi community.

Monzur's visit to Bangladesh earlier this month was the first time she'd returned in nine months.

"So that she can't come back to Canada, he brutally attacked her and destroyed both of her eyes," said Islam. "If he took her eyes, Rumana cannot study anymore."

Sumon has yet to stand trial on the charges related to Monzur's injuries.

Islam, who is working on his doctorate about domestic violence in Bangladesh, is one of many friends in Vancouver who have signed an open online letter denouncing Monzur's husband's claims that she was having an affair, sparking the assault.

"To blame Rumana for the incident ... that she had it coming, something like that ... I wanted to oppose this," Islam said.

UBC president Stephen Toope has also published an online letter in support of Monzur.

Toope noted that a number of fundraising efforts for the injured student are underway at UBC and said she might still be able to continue her studies at the university.

"UBC is also working to prepare options for Ms. Monzur to complete her master's degree in political science," Toope wrote.

"While this cannot, of course, be Rumana's immediate priority, we want her to know that everyone at UBC is thinking of her and of her future."

A fundraising rally is scheduled for Sunday outside the Vancouver Art Gallery.

With files from Priya Ramu