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Acid-attack survivor sues Sharmeen Obaid, filmmaker refutes claims

Published Jun 28, 2012 01:11pm


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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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Comments (40) Closed

majhool Jun 28, 2012 01:31pm
So here we go! why a good news for Pakistan... It ought to have some twist in it to fit our routine!
Jawwad Jun 28, 2012 02:22pm
I am sorry but the women of Pakistan need to stand up for their rights too. Rukhsana has gone back to the same people who tortured her at first place as they are the one with typical Pakistan mentality who now are looking to extract monies from the victim. Sharmeen is right to deny the money and instead buy victim her own house so she may fresh start. According to you, she should just go back to her tormentor come what may and my friend that is the typical Pakistan mentality.
El Cid Jun 28, 2012 08:57pm
Why do you Pakistanis believe all that you are told, or see in print? What you have here is a 'Falling out of Thieves'. This episode was part of a foreign funded orchestrated drama, as was the hollow Oscar award given to focus World attention on it. The objective was to humiliate Pakistan—impair and further damage its already tarnished image, in every arena possible, internationally. The problem arose when the actors started to believe it was for real...and as if the award was for hard work, talent, pain and sacrifice. For proof note that the victim is back with the person who is supposed to have victimized her. And our heroin Sharmeen is holding on to her financial gains...if her heart and soul had indeed been in the “Face” project she would have voluntarily given away ALL her gains and more, except for costs, to organizations helping these unfortunate women. On the contrary, ALL these people are doing is incriminating each other, and forcing legal avenues and issues...!
azharali Jun 29, 2012 06:47am
a very good question..
Shahid Khan Jul 02, 2012 08:37pm
I would like to make a documentary on this whole sordid affair.
Najeeb Khalid Jun 28, 2012 03:37pm
documentaries barely cover the cost of making them. Except nature films such as by national Geographic or BBC are an exception.
Tanvir Jun 28, 2012 03:29pm
It is very simple to understand. The victim had no choice but to marry and/or stay with her attacker because she was uneducated with no skill and had a stomach to fill. Under the Pakistani village cultural system, who else would have married her or taken her as a dependent? Ms. Chinoy is an educated woman with a global perspective of issues and opportunities to earn her living. The Western media hype of victimized women in Pakistan provided her with an opportunity in the form of Rukhsana, a victim of her husband! The victim agreed to tell her story in Ms. Chinoy's film without Formally Agreeing on any terms in writing and fell as a victim Again Ms. Chinoy's pursuit of a hot issue. In the West, the producer, the director and actors, jointly share the honor and award. What did Rukhsana got out of this, the same misery! She is still a victim of her husband's and in-laws greed and Ms. Chinoy cannot help. Ms. Chinoy’s mission is accomplished!
Aamir Farooq Jun 30, 2012 03:21am
Guess what, Chinoy has all the modes of communication. She is tweeting, perhaps facebooking as well and on top of it all, she is a media person. What has Rukhsana got ???? I wonder if the case will even be given a just coverage by the media keeping in view the person concerned, or will it hold a one sided media trial with we know who winning at the end?????? And PLEASE! do not blame Pakistan or bring it in between the feud of 2 women. This has nothing to do with Islam either.
Peter Jun 29, 2012 06:03am
Hang the buggers that do such a thing to women by the neck until dead and see how long and how many you have to hang before they fear the Law enough to discontinue such heinous crimes against the weak and defenceless.
RMA Jun 29, 2012 06:21am
Guys! I am raising the the same question here, why not go after the cruel husband first who threw acid on his wife's faces ? and then go after sharmeen obaid for giving pakistan some dignity in this world? Us Pakistanis, don't deserve this freedom, or anything nice, it would have been better if we stayed slaves to the British, at least they would have taught us discipline, morality and ethics, because apparently teachings of Islam and prophet Mohammad PBUH wasn't enough for us. shame on us as a nation ..
Waqas Shaikh Jun 29, 2012 02:37am
I agree
haji Jun 29, 2012 09:43pm
disgusting shame !
G. Thind Jun 29, 2012 01:25am
There are two reasons why the poor woman is welcomed back by the no good husband and his family: (a). Mercy by the court for good behaviour. (2) Expectation of good sum of money from Sharmeen. After achieving these two goals I bet my bottom dollar he will say: "I divorce thee" three times and marry another women - exploitation of women will continue. Third world countries in general and Muslim countries in particular need thousands of Shameens for couple of years to come.
Guest01 Jun 29, 2012 01:36am
how do you know that 'sharpen' is in the right? just because she can write a few good english sentences in twits (sic)
Guest01 Jun 29, 2012 01:38am
Not so when you 'promise' or even suggest a 'reward' or compensation.
Faisal Ahmad Jun 29, 2012 07:26am
Totally Agree with RMA.
Faisal Ahmad Jun 29, 2012 02:29pm
Absolutely true .
stranger Jun 29, 2012 02:01pm
I just wonder what other choices does she have other than living with her husband and in laws? Would she be able to find a decent job for herself so that she can feed herself and her children? Is she educated enough? Would she be able to claim alimony if she is separated from her husband? Are there any NGOs who can help her to stand up on her own feet? I think it will be very challenging for her.
irfan Jun 28, 2012 09:22pm
very true....
Suubhash Jun 28, 2012 04:44pm
Was the husband given any punishment by Pakistani Court, for the heinous crime of throwing acid on his wife's face?
Infectious Jun 28, 2012 03:22pm
Only in Pakistan....
Irfan Khan Jun 28, 2012 01:56pm
Why should we believe Sharmeen? What had stopped Sharmeen from buying a house for Rukhsana even if she is lviing with her husband? Did Sharmeen not know how women live under men's rule even in cities let alone rural areas and even if he is aggressor? Winning Oscar in obscene clothes does not give Sharmeen license to humiliate unprotected Muslim women. Why can't she build relief homes for victims with the millions from Oscar instead of just honking?
dilawer Jun 28, 2012 03:04pm
and what makes you think that? Sharmeen did not know in advance that her documentary will win an award. Where have you been living? She is unfortunately dealing with people who have no moral values. If the guy can throw acid on his wife you can expect anything from him. He has been coached by thugs in this society to extort money out of this misery. Unless, if you have not been living in cave then you can easily see this coming.
Noor Jun 28, 2012 01:54pm
it looks as though Rukhsana was cheated by Chinoy..... shameful....
Lakhkar Khan Jun 28, 2012 01:43pm
Sharmeen, you have my support. Keep on doing good the deeds of exposing violence against women.
@SecularPakista1 Jun 28, 2012 01:47pm
Acid attcks should be treated as the same crime as rape. The criminals need to go to jail for a long time. You cannot stop this crime through awarness only. Pakistani men will not change their conduct until there are severe penalties against such barbaric crimes.
Haq Jun 28, 2012 01:43pm
This is so disappointing. It's a documentary not a movie. Documentaries are not supposed to and must not pay people for their story. Typical Pakistani mentality of buying people off and people too wanting to mint money off off everything. No regard for anything greater than money.
Tanz Jun 28, 2012 02:35pm
You couldn't be more right about this my friend. Spot on!
sarmad Jun 28, 2012 02:32pm
Apparently Sharmeen has made good money out of it. So passing some to victims who decided to be part of the documentary despite social pressure is not a bad idea. I am not saying here who is speaking truth.
Haq Jun 28, 2012 03:14pm
The only ethical responsibility a journalist/documentary filmmaker has to a subject is to honestly tell their story. It's not Sharmeen's responsibility to protect these women for life. That's the government's responsibility. Sharmeen has done her part by telling the story. It's unfair to make these unreasonable demands off her. And it's a popular misconception that documentaries make money. No they don't. Documentaries work on grants to meet the exact balances, release in limited places, hence no real theatrical box office ticket sales either. Whatever Sharmeen has made on top with winning awards is not a lot and is her fair share for the great work she has done. Let her be.
Fawad Jun 28, 2012 02:22pm
This woman Rukhsana continues to be exploited by her 'animal' husband and in-laws, alas, culture in rural Pakistan. She wants compensation from Sharmeen, when she should rather be looking for justice against her husband and in laws. I feel sorry for her, she is caught in a never ending circle of exploitation.
sarmad Jun 28, 2012 02:20pm
Truth will surface soon as case is in court, so one cannot comment. However, it is shocking to know that poor woman has no choice but living with the same guy who has inflicted horrible thing to her. A reminder, how much women are vulnerable. They have to live with whatever is it by taking it as their destiny
Syed Jun 28, 2012 02:21pm
It's typical of our people wanting to have a bite of everything! I dont trust anyone, but It seems pretty obvious that some one can not live with the fact that the first OSCAR WON by a PAKISTANI (and that female!)....It's high time we praise our people the way Indians do.....make them hype over!
ISHTIAQ Jun 28, 2012 06:03pm
Whether Sharmeen has made money or not, the decision to share her good fortune is entirely hers. Further how do you know that she isn't already sharing her wealth with victims? The claimant in this case is a suspect because it is very clear that she is been exploited by greedy no good individuals.
Taj Jun 28, 2012 05:59pm
Lets not pass judgements before the facts become clear. Except we can draw a conclusion or two based on the state of women's rights in a male dominated society, In this case it looks as though both women are the victims of the worst aspects of our culture mainly greed and violence.
Malik Jun 28, 2012 05:54pm
The victim was initially attacked by her husband which resulted in acid burns. Now she is back living with her husband and in-laws even after her ordeal. Can not help but think that this is down to pressure from her husband and in-laws to grab what ever comes her way financially. However, if Sharmeen is right about her side of the story, I think she should have offerred some sort of compensation to the victims who appeared in the documentary as gesture of appreciation for the contribution made by the victims in thier role to address this plight of women and violence inflicted on them.
A Z Khan Jun 28, 2012 05:27pm
Movies or surgery the prorty to be given to rehabilitate victims ,instead throwing them in the same lion den who mutiliated her.Pakistanis must think and come to rescue these victims chinoys help can be greater,hopefully my point of view understood.
FRKH Jun 28, 2012 05:23pm
Just compare the two women in the story a victim and a film maker and you could easily reach the conclusion who is able to cheat and who is prone to cheating. This is the real face of Pakistani educated class. Something is wrong with the basics of this part of the world.??? try to find that.
SAK Jun 28, 2012 05:18pm
Is it really Rukhsana asking for compensation - or is she being made to do so by those around her. I believe she continues to be a victim. By choice? Because of social pressure? Because of the norms we all have contributed to establish - that work to exploit and marginalise women. Yes, you and I have helped establish these norms - either knowingly (for self-interest) or unwittingly (through ignorance). Fourteen hundred years on - and here we are back to square one!
ayesha zahid Jul 31, 2012 09:12pm
its not the woman suing sharmeen....its probably her in-laws that are forcing her to do it.