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LAHOR, Pakistan, Oct. 7 — Pakistani beauty maverick Masarrat Misbah has long been known for running Depilex, the country’s most well known salon chain. While she has gained satisfaction from providing women across Pakistan with their most essential beauty needs from pedicures to wedding make-up, five years ago she experienced a rude awakening.
One day in 2003 when Misbah was leaving work, a veiled woman approached asking for help and uncovered her face. “I saw a woman who had no face,” says Misbah.
The woman revealed that her husband had thrown acid on her. Mishbah decided that she not only wanted to help this woman, but also other victims of acid throwing. She placed a small ad in a local newspaper to see whether there were more women out there seeking assistance and 42 responded.
Misbah reached out to Smileagain, the Italian organisation that provides medical assistance to burn victims worldwide. She also sought help from Pakistani doctors and raised money locally.
She was able to form the Depilex-Smileagain Foundation, which has helped hundreds of women with surgery and provides assistance finding jobs for those who do not return to their families. Some are even being trained as beauticians.
According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, last year more than 33 women were burned in acid attacks and another 45 were set on fire. Many similar cases, however, are not reported and the actual number is believed to be much higher.