Acid attack survivor to speak in Bartlett July 20

Crucifix necklaceA Pakistani woman who survived an acid attack because of her Christian faith will be the guest speaker on July 20 at the Bartlett United Methodist Church. Julie Aftab, 26, will talk about her injuries, her recovery and her faith.

Aftab was 16 when someone threw acid onto her face and down her throat because of her Christianity and the visible symbol, a gold cross necklace, that she wore.

The acid burned much of her body, and she lost her right eye and ear, much of her facial skin and most of her esophagus.

Even afterward, the locals threatened to burn down two hospitals if they treated her. Finally, a third one accepted her. Her attackers also persecuted her family and burned their house to the ground.

Aftab has endured her journey from Pakistan to the burn center at the Shriners Hospital for Children in Houston, Texas, where she has received 31 reconstructive surgeries and is facing still more.

She spoke no English when she first arrived in Houston in 2004, but she now has a very good command of the English language. She graduated from high school and is now a college student at the University of Clear Lake in Texas, where she is an accounting major.

Aftab eventually hopes to establish a safe house for girls who are being persecuted in Pakistan.

She embraced another milestone in her life this spring when she took the oath of U.S. citizenship in Houston on June 20.

Today, she says the attack has cemented her faith even more, and the people who tried to harm her brought her closer to God. She now calls her scars “my jewels, my gift from God.”

Editor’s note: To read a detailed description of her attack, see the brutal effects of the assault Aftab suffered, and read about her life in Pakistan before her injuries, see this story in the Houston Chronicle.

Story and image:This story was written by Judy Guthrie, special to the Express. This image is a stock photo via; some rights reserved.