We are cross-posting an Urdu column by famous Pakistani poet and columnist Wasi Shah on exploitation of Rukhsana Bibi, an acid victim woman from Muazaffargarh whose miseries were further exploited by an acclaimed filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy.
Wasi’s column in Urdu newspaper Nai Baat (28 June 2012) highlights how an urban elite filmmaker, hailed for her Oscar award by the government and the media alike and earning an international stature for highlighting an ugly reality of the Pakistani society, may have some ugly gaps in her personal moral strength.
The very girl who was used by Sharmeen in her ‘Saving Face’ documentary to bring about the global audience, the miseries of acid attack women in Pakistan, Ruksana bibi has recently reported in a mainstream Urdu newspaper that Sharmeen, who had promised her rupees 3 million, a 5 marla house in Multan and free surgery, has constantly delayed the matter. Ruksana bibi says that as a fruit of working in the movie she has lost the support of her parents and clan; she has been left alone by all her acquaintances and the situation has eventuated in Chinoy’s refusal to meet her due to her busy international schedule. Rukhsana also reported that Sharmeen pressurized her to seek divorce from her husband.
Chinoy, who started her career with New York Times Television in 2002, has produced about 12 films, many of which have been award winning, in her short career. All her films, offer an uncritical, Orientalist look at cultures in Third World countries. She produced ‘Terror’s Children’ a film about Afgan refugee children, ‘Reinventing the Taliban’ in 2003, ‘Women of the Holy Kingdom’ in 2005, ‘Pakistan’s double game’ 2005, ‘Lifting the veil’ 2007, ‘Children of Taliban’ 2010; all depicting the plight of women and children in the Muslim cultures, giving uncritical legitimacy, in the mainstream media, to the global war on terror that is based on the slogans of ‘bringing democracy’ and ‘delivering the women’.
We are sure for a thriving career for Sharmeen in the future. Oscar may just be a milestone on her path; she can aim for the Nobel prize after Obama.
We are concerned only for the double-jeopardy that Ruksana bibi is facing now. ‘Face Saving’ proved unable to save face for Pakistan; for Ruksana bibi, she had to face trauma after trauma; even for Sharmeen it is proving to be difficult to save her face in this situation. The Acid Survivors Foundation has said on behalf of Sharmeen that the promises could not be fulfilled because of Ruksana bibi’s family members who have insisted that they be paid everything in cash; the question is that how does Sharmeen stand up to save the face of these women when she is finding herself intimidated by the pressure of Ruksana bibi’s family, does she not know how Ruksana bibi can get legal protection.
In the following column, Wasi Shah highlights the double jeopardy faced by Rukhsana Bibi and similar oppressed women in Pakistan who are being further exploited by greedy NGOs and dubious rights activists.The very fact that Rukhsana’s press release was not published in any English newspaper in Pakistan shows the despicable nature and power of the elitist network at play which wants to hide the true ugly face of Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy.
Acid victim Rukhsana, featured in Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s Oscar winning documentary Saving Face, has 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. But the filmmaker has denied all accusations.
ARY News (Headlines 28 June, 2012) Acid attack survivor sues Sharmeen