Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Documentary of Plastic Surgeon Volunteer Treatment of Acid Burn Victims Wins Academy Award

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Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy was born in Karachi Pakistan, emigrated to Toronto, Canada and this passed weekend won an academy award here in Los Angeles for her short documentary film Saving Face. The film documents the plight of Pakistani women who are disfigured by having acid poured on them usually by relatives, husbands or rejected suitors. The acid damages the skin, sometimes exposes the underlying bones and often times causes blindness in one or both eyes. The film chronicles the efforts of a Pakistani born British plastic surgeon, Mohammad Jawad,  to reconstruct their faces and restore their dignity. It is the first win for a Pakistani film. A win that instills pride and shame at the same time. Over 100 such attacks occur in Pakistan each year. Most go unreported and the women live secluded lives due to the circumstances surrounding these attacks (in the case of husband attackers they do so out of fear for their children) so the number of victims could even be double that. In the course of the film a girl describes being burned at age 13 for rejecting the advances of her teacher. In the Western world that teacher would have been prosecuted. Although it is rare a female Pakistani lawyer took up the legal case of one of the victims in the film and successfully managed to have the perpetrator convicted. Sadly these women require multiple operations to regain some resemblance of normal appearance. There is a report of a New Delhi India girl who underwent 25 reconstructive operations to treat disfiguring from acid burns.

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