05 March 2012

Saving Face: Shines Light On Acid Attacks

Much has been written about the 84th Annual Academy Awards ceremony which took place last weekend, from Angelina Jolie’s right leg having a twitter profile with over 15,000 followers to Christopher Plummer being the oldest Oscar winner ever and not showing any signs of slowing down but I would like to focus on a moment when women’s issue took a centre stage.
Yes, I am talking about Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and Daniel Junge winning the Academy Award for Best Documentary (Short Subject) for their film ‘Saving Face’.
Saving Face tells the story of two Pakistani women who have survived acid attacks by their husbands and the lengths to which one plastic surgeon has gone to help these women recover from their attacks. The award on its own is significant; as it is the first Oscar a Pakistani film has ever received. But it also represents a victory for Pakistani women, whose voices and experiences are now being recognized on a massive scale.
Over 100 acid attacks take place in Pakistan every year, and most of the victims are women. A week before the Oscars, four girls were attacked with acid in Faisalabad. This is a critical issue that deserves international attention & awareness, and Saving Face‘s award has done just that!
The question now is, how will Saving Face‘s Oscar be able to leverage the change Pakistani women need? Though more people are thinking and talking about acid attacks this week than they were last week but a golden statue bestowed by group of elderly white men is not going to bring about change for women in Pakistan. The media and social activists in Pakistan need to promote the film and talk about acid attacks critically & directly.
I read and think about global women’s issues regularly and watch several documentaries but the horrifying phenomenon of acid attacks is not something that I knew much about before this week. The fact that people are not only discussing the film’s win but also the film’s content suggests to me that the film may be able to raise international awareness about an issue that otherwise would not received much coverage. The more people who hear about and discuss the issues in Saving Face, the sooner we will be able to have a global discussion about acid attacks and ways to prevent them.
Saving Face (a 40 minutes documentary) premieres on HBO next Thursday, 8th March 2012. Hopefully the film will continue to receive exposure and raise awareness around the world, both within and outside of Pakistan.

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