The Sunday Magazine

The extraordinary graduation of Rumana Monzur

Six years ago, Rumana Monzur was a student at UBC, when she went home to Bangladesh to visit her family. Her husband attacked her, bit off half her nose and gouged out her eyes. This week, Ms. Monzur, now blind, graduated from UBC's school of law. We re-broadcast Karin Wells's 2013 documentary about Ms. Monzur's brave journey. It's called "A Thousand Eyes."
Rumana Monzur receives a standing ovation following her speech to fellow law school graduates and faculty at the University of British Columbia.

When Rumana Monzur addressed her fellow law school graduates at the University of British Columbia this week, you could hear a pin drop. The idea she spoke about — facing life's challenges with a smile on your face — might have been unremarkable coming from someone else. But not from her. When she began law school, she was newly blind and still having difficulty navigating the corridors and classrooms using her white cane.

In 2011, Rumana Monzur was a graduate student in political science at UBC. In June, she went home to Bangladesh to visit her family and write her thesis. That is when her husband attacked her. He bit off half her nose and gouged out her eyes. Their five-year-old daughter watched it all happen. 

A friend spoke to her a few days after the attack. "Rumana, you must speak up." And against all odds, she did. With her father beside her, Rumana Monzur gave a press conference from her hospital bed, and became the embodiment of the fight against the abuse of women in Bangladesh.

The very next day, the police "discovered" her husband hiding at a relative's house. He was arrested and died in prison 5 months later.
Rumana Manzur is greeted by supporters shortly after her return to Canada from Bangladesh in 2011. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

Her Canadian friends raised money, UBC stepped up to the plate and within a month Rumana Monzur, her daughter and her parents were in Vancouver. Despite multiple surgeries, the damage to her eyes was irreversible.

In 2013, documentary producer Karin Wells met Ms. Monzur. She was at law school, waiting for her class on Torts, the study of when one person can sue another. Karin's documentary is called "A Thousand Eyes."

In the fall, Ms. Monzur begins articling at an international law firm in Vancouver. 
Rumana Monzur begins articling at an international law firm in Vancouver in the fall of 2017. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC )

Click 'listen' above to hear the documentary.