There is an epidemic in Pakistan. But it’s not an incurable illness that is ruining the lives of women young and old, but rather, a senseless act of retaliation—often from their husbands—for transgressions such as simple miscommunication or suspected affairs. These women are the victims of acid attacks.
Saving Face, the Academy Award-winning documentary by local director Daniel Junge, profiles a handful of Pakistani women who have been victimized by acid attacks. These assaults are just as they sound: The attacker throws a type of acid (like battery acid) onto a woman’s body to inflict pain and punishment, most often aiming for the face. The women in the film, some young enough that Americans would consider them still children, have resorted to full-face veil coverage and sunglasses to hide their disfigurement. Instead of lingering on the women’s suffering, however, the film focuses on the drastic legislative changes brought about by the victims’ courage and determination to bring awareness to this violent epidemic. Junge has ultimately captured a story about the reclamation of personal pride and livelihoods.
Although the womens’ emotional scars may never heal, one Pakistani native featured in the film hopes to heal the physical ones. London-based (Pakistan-born) plastic surgeon Dr. Mohammad Jawad returns to his homeland to help medically treat the victims and heal the disfigurement. “In a way,” he says, “I’m saving my own face. I’m part of this society that has this disease.” Jawad can never remove the memories of hate, but he can help construct a new future for the women of Pakistan—starting with their faces.
Get Involved: Join Project SAAVE to bring awareness to the tragic plight of acid attack victims in Pakistan. You can host a free, local screening to educate your community and help end the senseless brutalization.
See It: Watch Saving Face on Saturday, November 10, at 2:30 p.m. at Denver Pavilions.
—Image courtesy of Shutterstock.
Follow editorial assistant Lindsey R. McKissick on Twitter at @LindseyRMcK.