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Saving Face

In Pakistan, a woman's face is deemed to be her greatest asset. Someone seeking to punish a woman need only destroy her face to do her permanent harm—both physically and socially. Saving Face exposes how acid attacks affect women in Pakistan, including Zakia, whose husband attacked her outside a courthouse when she filed for divorce, and Rukhsana, whose spouse attacked her in the marital home where she still lives because she cannot afford to care for her children alone. The film focuses on one courageous man trying to help this community, Dr. Mohammad Jawad. A plastic surgeon originally from Pakistan and now practicing in London, he explains: "It makes me very angry. I don't want to hear these stories anymore." Zakia not only benefits from Dr. Jawad's treatment, she also goes to court to prosecute her husband for her attack. She becomes the first case tried under a new law in Pakistan that punishes perpetrators of acid attacks with life imprisonment. Saving Face highlights the medical and legal responses to this horrific problem, and the generous spirit of Dr. Jawad, who offers a glimmer of hope for women who are otherwise 'dead' to society.
(Extended version of the 2012 Academy Award Winning Documentary – Short Subject)

Every year, thousands of women and girls are disfigured, maimed, or blinded in acid attacks. Cases of acid violence, a form of violence against women, occur all over the world and have been documented in South East Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, the West Indies, and the Middle East. These attacks are perpetrated by husbands, relatives, community members and strangers, and typically target the faces of victims. Many countries have enacted laws to prevent acid attacks, but victims still struggle to access justice and services that will help them rebuild their lives. Human Rights Watch has worked extensively on violence against women in all its forms and advocated for laws to protect women and their rights in numerous countries around the globe.