Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy received widespread acclaim for her Oscar-winning documentary "Saving Face." – Photo by AFP
Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy received widespread acclaim for her Oscar-winning documentary "Saving Face." – Photo by AFP

KARACHI: Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, Pakistan’s first Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker was mired in controversy when one of the victims whose narrative was recorded in her documentary “Saving Face,” accused Chinoy of not fulfilling her commitment of providing financial compensation.

Rukhsana, who hails from Muqzaffargarh, filed a case against Chinoy in the Multan sessions court. She claimed that Chinoy offered her compensation and benefits which motivated her to appear in the film, but once the documentary was released, the director did not fulfil her commitment.

She alleged that Chinoy promised her a five-marla (126 square-metre) house, Rs3,000,000 and plastic surgery in compensation for her role in the film. Rukhsana also claimed to have been thrown out of her house for working in the movie and is forced to live a nomadic life with her children.

Chinoy, however, denies all the allegations and spoke out against Rukhsana’s claims on social media website Twitter.

Chinoy tweeted that she never promised any favour or compensation to Rukhsana and that a donor, who saw the documentary, offered Rukhsana a house and she even went around looking for houses. However, her family did not let her accept one. The filmmaker said that the donor was very clear that they did not want to give her cash in place of a house as they felt it may be dangerous for her as she is even more vulnerable to being exploited by her husband who committed the crime in the first place. Her husband and family however, insisted she take money instead and to therefore reject the house, which they had seen, as witnessed by a member of Islamic Help, as they felt she could more.

According to Chinoy’s tweets, the plastic surgeon involved in the film Dr Mohammad Jawwad came to Pakistan to perform surgeries on Rukhsana and Zakia — the latter being the primary subject of the movie. While Zakia agreed to the surgery and was operated upon, Rukhsana turned down the offer.

Chinoy also said that Zakia never came forward with any allegations similar to those of the other victim and has been approached by various donors.

The Karachi-based filmmaker also said that Acid Survivors Foundation (ASF) and Rukhsana unanimously filed a civil suit to stop airing the movie in Pakistan for the safety of victims. Although it was made clear initially that the documentary will be aired in Pakistan, Chinoy said she obliged “because women’s safety is paramount” to her.

Chinoy further claimed that her company reserves the airing rights of Saving Face in Pakistan as Rukhsana through ASF had signed a consent form.

Chinoy also tweeted that Rukhsana is currently living with her husband and in-laws who attacked her. She later posted photos of Rukhsana and her husband as they searched for a house in Multan.

Her tweets laid emphasis on the fact that Rukhsana is a victim and needs help.

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