Thursday, February 13, 2014
From Print Edition
An acid attack survivor Samar Bibi has said that acid attack has destroyed her face but it is not the end of life for her. Rather, it is start of a new life.
She said this while speaking at the inauguration of an exhibition of photographs, titled ‘Visual Art Exhibition of the Work of Acid Attack Survivors’, captured by her and eight other acid attack survivors here Wednesday.
Showing enormous resilience and courage, nine acid attack survivors, trained as photographers, unveiled their photographs at the Pakistan National Council of Arts. The exhibition was organised to commemorate Pakistan National Women’s Day.
National Women’s Day highlights the struggle of women’s rights activists in Pakistan. The origins of the day go back to February 12, 1983, when women’s rights activists gathered at Lahore Mall to protest against anti-women legislation promoted by President Zia-ul-Haq. The women were stopped from proceeding to their planned destination, Lahore High Court, and were tear-gassed and hit by batons. Many of them were jailed for raising their voices against Zia.
“Women’s rights are human rights, and violence against women is a violation of human rights. The United States is committed to working with Pakistan to eliminate violence against women,” said United States Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Catherine Russell, who inaugurated the exhibition.
“I believe that initiatives such as this project, which is aimed at assisting survivors in their rehabilitation process while providing them with an opportunity through knowledge of the business of photography to become entrepreneurs, can bring hope to the lives of these brave women,” she added.
The three-day exhibition that began Wednesday is funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), through its partners, Aurat Foundation, and the Acid Survivors Foundation under the Gender Equity Programme.
The ‘Visual Art Exhibition of the Work of Acid Attack Survivors’ displays the work of acid survivors who attended a two-week photography training workshop. The goal was to assist survivors in their rehabilitation process while providing them with photographic knowledge and skills that may later result in an income-generating activity.
ASF Chairperson Valerie Khan demanded the government to pass comprehensive Acid and Burn Crime Bill at the provincial level to ensure that rehabilitation services for survivors. “Proactive and constructive response to acid and burn violence must be part of the wider indigenous policy to counter GBV in our country. For that, we need a stronger legal framework with an adequate implementation mechanism,” she said. The acid survivors’ photographs will be on sale at the event. Proceeds will help buy photographic equipment for survivors.