A heroin addict desperate for a fix reportedly cut off his wife’s nose and lips with a knife in front of their children in Afghanistan, the BBC and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.
Neighbors found the woman, Sitara, 30, unconscious in her home, covered with blood and with her nose and lips on the floor next to her.
They were alerted to the trouble when they heard the screams of the children in the home.
Sami Wafa, spokesman for the governor of Herat told the BBC’s Persian service that the woman’s husband had demanded jewelry that he intended to sell for drugs. When she refused, he first beat her, then cut her nose and lips.
“According to preliminary reports, Sitara has been stabbed several times on her head too. Ms. Sitara’s husband was a drug addict and had intended to sell her jewelry for buying drugs,” Wafa said.
Neighbors quickly brought her to the hospital, where doctors stabilized her and on Tuesday transferred her to a hospital in Turkey for reconstructive surgery.
Sitara’s 14-year-old daughter Fereshta told local media her father has often beat her siblings and mother when he didn’t have money to fund his drug addiction, saying, “Every time my mother refused to give money to my father, he would beat her.”
The Dec. 13 incident has made headlines in Afghanistan and prompted protests in sympathy with the victim. Dozens of women’s rights activists traveled with Sitara to the airport for her flight to Turkey.
RFE/RL reported that the Afghan Interior Ministry has launched a manhunt for her husband Azim.
Independent Human Rights Commission chief Sima Samar said: “This act is against human dignity. The perpetrator must be arrested and charged.”
“It can’t be an excuse that he has run away, police must take this seriously,” she added at a press conference.
Despite the uniquely brutal nature of this particular attack, domestic violence against Afghan women is not uncommon.
In 2010, Time magazine featured on its cover an 18-year-old Afghan woman Aisha whom a Taliban commander sentenced to cut off her nose and ears cut after she fled her abusive in-laws. Aisha now lives in the U.S., where she underwent reconstructive surgery on her face.