ISLAMABAD: Activists have urged Minister for Climate Change Zartaj Gul to act upon her statement last year and ban skin lightening creams that contain more than 1pc mercury, which can cause cancer.

They were speaking at a webinar on the eve of International Week of Redefining Beauty, which is being observed today until July 3.This is a time when people from all over the world, under the Black Lives Matter movement, have united to protest against prejudice and discrimination with people of colour.

Fatima Lodhi, founder of Pakistan’s anti-colourism campaign, Dark is Divine, said: “The damage fairness products cause to health is horrible.

“These products contain mercury which happens to be a cancer causing chemical; it is found in these products without any check and balance and without any warnings to consumers.

In December last year, Ms Gul made an official statement, regarding a crackdown on whitening creams that contain more than 1pc mercury.

The ministry checked 59 samples of fairness products and found out that the amount of mercury in 56 of them was way more than 1pc. Six months have passed and we are looking forward to implementation of a banon these cancer causing products.”

Steps should be taken by the government to protect people, especially young girls from emotional damage and social prejudice, brought on by colourism, she added.

United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) representative Nayela Naviz said that such sessions were the need of the hour and should be held on a regular basis, so people would become more aware and stop judging others on the basis of their skin colour.

Assistant Professor from University of Texas Zahra Asjad said: “Beauty should not be associated with just one skin tone.We all have an individual responsibility of changing biased standards of beauty.”

Published in Dawn, June 29th, 2020

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