To spread awareness about acid violence against women in Pakistan, the Pakistani Students Association hosted a showing of the Oscar Award-winning documentary Saving Face on Sunday.
The screening in Goldwin Smith Hall was part of the organization’s efforts to bring attention to social issues in Pakistan and broadcast them to Cornellians.
“We just wanted to show how widespread of an issue this is in Pakistan,” Zehra Jafri ’19, co-president of PSA, told The Sun.
For this screening, PSA partnered with the Acid Survivors Trust International, and the organization is accepting donations to help alleviate the suffering of acid attack victims. While this was one of the group’s first fundraisers, PSA has so far collected over $300 for victims.
Jafri explained that PSA’s goal each year is to bring a type of “organizational charity,” and this year the group chose to focus on the plight of acid attack survivors.
Saving Face won the 2012 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject and Emmy Award for Best Documentary. The film follows British-Pakistani surgeon Dr. Mohammad Jawad and his work with facial reconstruction on victims of acid attacks in Pakistan.
While born in Pakistan, Jawad practiced in London before returning once he heard about the need for plastic surgeons in Pakistan due to acid violence.
“In a way this was about me saving my own face, and owning up to my responsibility to the country of my origin,” Jawad said in an interview with The Huffington Post.
Among the victims Jawad treats in the documentary is Zakia Parveen, a young mother whose face was disfigured by her husband, causing her to permanently lose vision in her right eye. By the end of her surgery she expressed confidence in her appearance for the first time since the attack.
Since a total of 153 reported acid attacks in 2014, the number of attacks has decreased by over 50 percent, according to the Acid Survivors Foundation.
The film also follows the passage of a key law against acid attacks, the Acid Control and Acid Crime Prevention Bill, which established life sentences for convicted perpetrators of these crimes.
Since the production of the documentary, the Pakistani government has continued passing bills dedicated to reducing acid violence against women, including the Acid and Burn Crime Bill 2017.
Despite the lower rates and new laws, the lives of women already affected by attacks have been changed forever.
“It happens in every corner all the time and we don’t speak much about it,” Jafri told The Sun.