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UBC student maimed in Bangladesh heading home to Vancouver

Rumana Monzur Wednesday June 22, 2011 at LabAid hospital in Dhaka with her daughter Anoushe.

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

A University of British Columbia student maimed in an attack in her home country of Bangladesh is to return Tuesday to Vancouver, where she will be assessed by physicians from UBC's ophthalmology department.

A UBC spokeswoman would not say whether that assessment could potentially restore vision to Rumana Monzur, whose eyes were gouged in the June 5 assault – allegedly committed by her husband – in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka.

"Rumana will be assessed by UBC's department of ophthalmology," Catherine Dauvergne, senior adviser to UBC president Stephen Toope, said on Monday. "But it's difficult to know where that assessment will lead."

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An online report by the English-language Bangladesh Daily Star said Ms. Monzur was headed to Vancouver for surgery with David Maberley, an associate professor at UBC's department of ophthalmology.

An assistant in Dr. Maberley's office on Monday said there was "no comment at this time" on whether the doctor would treat Ms. Monzur.

Ms. Monzur has reportedly been sightless since the attack, which she says took place in front of her five-year-old daughter.

The gruesome attack and its aftermath – Bangladeshi media focused on her husband's allegations of infidelity, which she denies – pushed issues of domestic violence and sexual discrimination into the spotlight.

Students and supporters held a public rally in Vancouver on June 26, and UBC has been co-ordinating a fundraising campaign to help offset medical and other expenses. To date, that campaign has raised about $35,000 of a targeted $70,000, Ms. Dauvergne said, primarily from UBC students and faculty.

"Now that Rumana is planning to come back to Vancouver sooner rather than later, we are continuing with the online fundraising and, of course, if someone mails us a cheque, we will be happy to put it into that account," Ms. Dauvergne said.

Funds will be used for potential medical treatment and rehabilitative services, including technology aids that may help Ms. Monzur continue her studies.

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"She is still enrolled as a full-time student, so we're very much hoping to support her to finish her degree but anticipating that there will be additional costs," Ms. Dauvergne said.

Ms. Monzur's father is expected to accompany her to Vancouver, and her daughter is expected to come to Canada in the next few weeks. Ms. Monzur is enrolled in masters studies in political science at UBC.

To date, the possibility of her regaining her sight has seemed remote. In a June 21 update, Mr. Toope said Ms. Monzur's eye injuries "have been assessed at two top-flight facilities in India. Doctors at Sankara Nethralaya in Chennai and at the Aravind Eye Hospital in Pondicherry have regretfully agreed that no further treatment is possible for Ms. Monzur."

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About the Author
National correspondent

Based in Vancouver, Wendy Stueck has covered technology and business and now reports on British Columbia issues including natural resources, aboriginal issues and urban affairs. More

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