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'I'm helpless': Blinded UBC student shares details of attack, recovery

Rumana Monzur, a UBC student who was blinded in an attack in Bangladesh, recovers at a hospital in Dhaka on June 22, 2011

S.K. Enamul Haq for The Globe and Mail/s.k. enamul haq The Globe and Mail

The University of British Columbia student who was blinded in a savage attack lies in a hospital bed in Bangladesh, awaiting plastic surgery and hoping against hope that her sight can be restored.

Rumana Monzur was beaten earlier this month, her eyes gouged and part of her nose bitten off. Her husband has been arrested and is in jail.

She was attacked in front of her five-year-old daughter while visiting her family back home in Dhaka.

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Canadian academics and students, along with their counterparts in Bangladesh, are rallying behind the 33-year-old scholar.

At UBC, Ms. Monzur is taking a master's degree in political science, specializing in climate change. She also holds a post as assistant professor in Dhaka University's international relations department.

Friends described her as happy, brilliant, studious and devout, but the shocking June 5 assault has shattered that life.

Ms. Monzur spoke with The Globe and Mail's Stephanie Nolen from her bed in a Dhaka hospital. Here are selected excerpts from the emotional interview, which will appear in print and online Friday.

On the attack

"First he attacked my neck and then he put his fingers in my eyes. He bit my nose. I tried to protect myself. He bit my hands - I have several injuries in hands and face. Then when I couldn't see and my nose was bleeding, I was slipping in my own blood. I was almost unconscious."

On her daughter

"I'm trying to be normal in front of her, I'm laughing, I'm telling her stories, I'm singing rhymes," she said. "But whenever she tries to show me something and realizes that I can't see, then she cries, and that's very been painful to me. Every day she asks me, 'Are your eyes okay yet?' She doesn't know."

On fears for her safety

"I feel totally threatened and insecure. I am not sure I can protect my daughter. If he can do this to me, he can do this to me, my parents and my daughter, too. I am not in a position to protect them - I'm the one they have to take care of now. I can't feel secure any more because I can't see."

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On her future

"I don't know how anything will be possible," she said. "I'm helpless."

Read the full story in print and online on Friday.

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