KARACHI: Objecting to allegations of making promises of monetary compensation to the acid victim and subject in the Oscar winning documentary, ‘Saving Face’, director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy has said that she believes the subject’s husband is pulling the strings.
The director clarified to The Express Tribune that no court summons or legal notices from the Multan court had been received yet. In case notices are received, she said their legal team would be consulted on the way forward.
Obaid-Chinoy said that non-governmental organisation Islamic Health had extended support in the form of bearing costs for reconstructive surgery of the two chief subjects in the film, Zakia and Rukhsana. They were to be operated on by Dr Mohammad Ali Jawad, also featured in the film.
A June 28 release from Islamic Health stated that Dr Jawad returned to Pakistan in April of this year as part of his annual surgical camps. In collaboration with Islamic health, reconstructive surgery was extended to both the subjects. Zakia was operated on.
However, Rukhsana refused the surgery due to unknown reasons.
Obaid-Chinoy told The Express Tribune that Rukhsana was still living with her husband, and in-laws, who had thrown acid over her and doused her with petrol, respectively. “I feel sad and sympathise with her, and I believe her husband is pulling the strings.”
Responding to a question on whether she had ever extended any promise of money, or in kind payments to Rukhsana’s family, Obaid-Chinoy said “no one from the documentary filmmaking world would ever offer money, its unethical.” She went on to add, “this is not my first documentary film, but this is the first time such an incident has happened.”
Acid victim Rukhsana, featured in Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s Oscar winning documentary Saving Face, had alleged that the filmmaker promised to give her Rs3 million and a house, and also promised to help her with plastic surgery for working in the film, but did not fulfil any of her promises.
The filmmaker said that Islamic Health has come out again offering to arrange surgery. An international donor had initially offered to buy Rukhsana a house under her own name, so as to prevent it from being usurped by her husband or in-laws. However, that offer was refused by Rukhsana.
For her part, Obaid-Chinoy says they are doing “all we can to help Rukhsana.”
With respect to involvement with Islamic Health and her own out reach programme for acid victims, the Oscar winning director said they are currently designing public service materials which will be used by the NGO and its local partners to spread awareness about acid crimes and the punishments carried against it under Pakistani laws.
Saving Face, a 40-minute film, focuses on Zakia and Rukhsana as they fight to rebuild their lives after being attacked by their husbands.
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