It’s up to the government now, says Sharmeen | Pakistan Today

It’s up to the government now, says Sharmeen

Oscar-winning director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy on Saturday called on the government to promulgate effective laws to regulate the purchase and sale of acid to curb its use in violence against women in the country.
“The law [on sale of acid] should be such where the buyer should have a licence to purchase acid. These laws already exist and have been immensely helpful in Bangladesh,” she told a well-attended press briefing, organised on her return from Los Angeles, US, where she, along with Daniel Junge, won the Academy Award for directing a short documentary film “Saving Face”.
Chinoy said that in Bangladesh, incidents of acid-throwing on women were double than that taking place in Pakistan but concerted efforts by the government, media and civil society to ensure strict implementation of laws had reduced the number of such violent happenings by 25 percent.
“Burning women by acid is a disease and not a part of culture,” she remarked.
At the press conference, the award-winning director was flanked by the film’s co-producer Fazeelat Aslam and cameraman Asad Faruqi
Lauding the country’s women parliamentarians for playing an instrumental role in promulgating the women protection bill, the filmmaker vowed to launch a countrywide campaign to create awareness about women rights, relevant laws for the protection of women and the respective punishments therein to deter the male-dominated society in Pakistan from creating more Zakyas and Rukhsanas, the victims of acid burns filmed in her documentary.
She said the campaign would include distribution of pamphlets inscribed with harsh penalties like life imprisonment for acid throwing, enacted in the recently-passed women’s bill by the parliament.
Recalling her “incredible feelings” at the Academy Awards function, Chinoy said “you can’t remember what you say during that 45-seocond speech”.
About the Winners Walk, she said all the Oscar winners pass through a room and when the door is opened no one is able to see but the cameras flash as journalists and photographers from across the globe are there to cover the event.
On the awards day, the director said that the award winners are entitled to enter any event across Los Angeles without having an entry pass. “You show [them] the Oscar and they allow you entry; it’s your entry pass,” she recalled.
Chinoy told the media that she, along with her husband Fahad Chinoy and co-producer Junge, was sitting in the 16th row from the stage and despite hearing the words “Saving Face”, was not able to stand up until she saw Junge stepping down the stairs. “It was the most incredible feeling ever.”
About the film, she said the documentary took 15 months to be completed, shot in Rawalpindi, Karachi and the Seraiki belt of Southern Punjab. “The theme of Saving Face was to show that Pakistan can solve its social problems and is looking for solutions to its problems,” she added.
“The short film will be aired by the Channel 4 in April following which, we would be dubbing it in Urdu and Seraiki languages to be broadcasted by the Pakistani channels,” said Chinoy.
Asked for comments on the impression attributing her win to her close relations with “westerners”, the filmmaker said that the jury members of the academy are not accessible as their names are never disclosed. “I got an Oscar because my work deserved it”.
On claims of some critiques saying the film had maligned the image of Pakistan worldwide, she said it was impossible to please everybody at the same time. “I tend to concentrate only on those who support me.”
She also rejected the view that her winning the Oscar was due to the very nature of her topic of acid burn, which the West is more interested in.
Preparing for developing more films, one with the UN peacekeepers and another in China, the filmmaker also intends to soon launch at least two documentary series, one on children animation, being prepared by her firm, SOC Films, for local television channels.



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