Around the World

“Saving Face”: Horrific Acid Attacks Target Women in Pakistan

Every year in Pakistan around 150 women are victims of acid attacks, horrific incidents where liquid acid is thrown on their face, leaving them permanently scared and disfigured.

Many are left without access to proper medical care, while those that do have access often require up to 20 surgeries to properly treat the damage.

In truth, the number of victims is likely much higher than those reported as many are attacks are typically carried out by someone close to them, such as a disgruntled husband or suitor looking for revenge.

According to filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, who just won the Academy Award for the short form documentary "Saving Face", "If a man wants to take on a second wife but his first wife doesn't want him to, he says, right I'll just throw acid on her face and get rid of her, so she'll spend the rest of her life in and out of hospitals."

It's been difficult for advocates of women's rights in Pakistan to combat the attacks since many go unreported, while attackers that are caught, are often let go with minimal punishment from the state.

Films like "Saving Face" and a new Pakistani law that hands down a minimum mandatory prison terms of 14 years to life for acid attacks are potentially promising turning points.

On Around the World, Christiane Amanpour speaks with Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy about her film, which can be seen on HBO, Thursday March 8th.

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