Muskan Khatun, a victim of acid attack in 2019 turned rights activist against the same practice, has been awarded the prestigious 2021 International Women of Courage (IWOC) Award for her work to end acid attacks. First Lady of the United States Jill Biden and Secretary of State Tony Blinken will host a virtual event on March 8 to confer the awards.
Now in its 15th year, the IWOC Award recognizes women around the globe who have demonstrated exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for peace, justice, human rights, gender equality, and women’s empowerment, often at great personal risk and sacrifice. Previous winners include Malala Yousafzai, the youngest Nobel laureate, for her advocacy work for women and girls in Pakistan.
Khatun, in 2019, and at an age of 15, became the victim of an acid attack for rejecting a boy’s advances. She suffered severe burns on her face, chest, and hands. Her recovery was painful and continues to this day.
According to the US Embassy in Kathmandu, Nepal, “Muskan turned a tragedy into an opportunity to bring about change in Nepal. Facing threats and social pressure, Muskan lobbied for stronger laws and punishments for acid attacks. She met with Prime Minister K.P. Oli who called for a new law to be drafted for acid attacks, and issued an ordinance punishing perpetrators and regulating the sale of chemicals”
“Muskan’s leadership was crucial in bringing about change. The U.S. Embassy in Nepal is proud to support her and promote the advancement of women’s and girls’ rights in Nepal”, the Embassy added.