One morning many years ago I woke up with a rash across part of my face. Apparently some allergic reaction had caused my skin to break out in swollen, itchy, redness. I felt physically ill from itchiness, but also frightened to see my own face not looking as it was supposed to. Some antihistamines later I recovered and everything went back to normal.
I am among the fortunate on this earth, who suffer such trivial worries. Imagine waking up one morning to find your face…gone..?! Academy award winning documentary film ‘Saving face’ features women who have suffered the loss of their face, because some hateful person threw acid on them.
In Pakistan every year over a hundred women suffer acid violence. It may be done by a man who is angry because the woman of his choice refuses his marriage proposal, or a man who is angry with his own wife, or even by her mother-in-law. The reason for her punishment often comes down to the mistake she made when she wasn’t born as a boy (or maybe when she didn’t give birth to a boy).
Plastic surgeon Dr. Mohammad Jawad tries to give these women their smiles back. “In a way I’m saving my own face,” he says, “it’s a very shameful thing as a society to be living with acid attacks & not be doing anything about it.”
‘Saving face’ is a horrible film, but it is also a marvelous film with heroic stories. It shows women who are willing to face their fears and fight for justice. Women who have found a way to recover their beauty, despite having been robbed of their own face. It shows what deep hate can do, but it also features hope in a very big way.
I don’t know if I could smile if I were in Zakia’s shoes. Yet she smiles again and has hope for tomorrow. Her suffering is beyond anything I could imagine, and so is her courage.