Acid attack victims fight to stop release of their film in Pakistan

Women fear being ostracised if Oscar winning documentary is screened in homeland

Pakistani acid attack victims who were featured in an Oscar-winning documentary are taking legal action to stop the film from being shown in their country, amid fears they may be shunned by their communities.

Pakistani acid attack victims who were featured in an Oscar-winning documentary are taking legal action to stop the film from being shown in their country, amid fears they may be shunned by their communities.

The women, who appear in Saving Face, claim the documentary-makers promised it would not be shown in Pakistan unless each of the acid attack survivors gave their approval.

But the film-makers, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy and Daniel Junge, have rejected the allegations, saying that everyone who participated signed legal release forms.

The row has plunged into controversy what had previously been a cause for national celebration. When the 40-minute film won the Best Documentary at February’s Oscar awards, the members of the Acid Survivors Foundation Pakistan (ASF) were among millions across the country who cheered.

The film told the story of two central characters, Zakia and Rukhsana, who had acid thrown at them by their husbands and whose faces were remade by a British Pakistani plastic surgeon, Mohammad Jawad. But some of the women, whose faces were destroyed, believe if the film is shown in Pakistan they could be ostracised by their conservative rural communities.

“We had no idea it would be a hit and win an Oscar. It’s completely wrong. We never allowed them to show this film in Pakistan,” Naila Farhat, 22, who features briefly in the film, told the Agence France-Presse. Ms Farhat, who was 13 when a man she refused to marry threw acid in her face, added: “This is disrespect to my family, to my relatives and they’ll make an issue of it. You know what it’s like in Pakistan. They gossip all the time if they see a woman in a film.”

The ASF failed to respond to inquiries yesterday. But its lawyer, Naveed Muzaffar Khan, said he had sent legal notices to the film-makers. Speaking from Islamabad, Mr Khan claimed the women had been given written undertakings from the documentary-makers that the film would not be shown in Pakistan unless everyone agreed. He said those documents were now with the courts. “[The women] come from a rural background and their families will be threatened if the movie is screened,” he added.

In a statement, Ms Obaid Chinoy and Mr Junge dismissed what they said were “false allegations”. “We would like to state emphatically that all subjects were informed of our intention to release the film globally, including Pakistan, and that all subjects signed a release to this effect,” they said.

They said copies could be obtained through a Pakistan-based lawyer, who could not yesterday be reached.

The film-makers also said that contrary to claims, they had not made financial commitments to the women. However, they had raised money for the two main characters portrayed in the documentary.

They added: “We believe it will be very unfortunate if Saving Face is not released in its home country. As human rights film-makers with an established record of change-making films, we believe the media has a role in illuminating human rights abuses, not hide them away. Furthermore we believe the Pakistani public who have shown overwhelming support deserve to see the country’s first Oscar-winning film.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvReview: Top Gear team flee Patagonia as Christmas special reaches its climax in the style of Butch and Sundance
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
Ernesto Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, right, met at Havana Golf Club in 1962 to mock the game
newsFidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
News
Hackers revealed Oscar-winning actress Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle
people
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Sport
Robin van Persie is blocked by Hugo Lloris
footballTottenham vs Manchester United match report
Life and Style
A general view during the 2014 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show at Earl's Court exhibition centre on 2 December, 2014 in London, England
fashionIt's not all about the catwalks: the big changes of the past year can be summed up in six clothing items
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Manager

£32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Manager is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?