From left to right: UN Women team, Valerie Khan Yusufzai co-chair of EVAWG alliance and chairperson Acid Survivors Foundation, Shazia Abassi, Alice Shackelford Head of UN Women Pakistan, Mr Asif Ali Zardari President of the Republic of Pakistan celebrating the concluding ceremony of the 16 million signature campaign to stop VAWG.
Posts Tagged ‘Valerie khan’
Acid and burn victims: Sensitised questioning and permission beforehand hallmark of ethical reporting
Journalists get trained on how to better report on acid, burn crimes.
This was said by Action Research Institute Executive Director Zaigham Khan, who was leading a training workshop for journalists on effective reporting on acid and burn violence in Pakistan. The other trainer at the Saturday’s workshop was ASF President Valerie Khan. The training was organised by the Acid Survivors Foundation (ASF), a non-governmental organisation.
In addition to being briefed on ethical behaviour while dealing with acid and burn victims, journalists also had the opportunity to interact with three acid burn victims, Safia, Shagufta and Sidra.
The young women shared their horrific experience of acid violence as well as how ASF helped them regain a semblance of their normal life.
Safia from Multan was only six months old when some people involved in a land dispute with her father broke in to her house and threw acid on her and her mother as they slept.
Safia says she has been getting aid from ASF since she was eight-years-old in the form of support and medical operations.
“I have gone through three operations so far, two on my eyes and one on my nose,” she said.
Thirty-year-old Shagufta from Muzaffargarh — a district with a high incidence of acid violence — was burnt by her husband three years ago.
In a bid to kill her and remarry, he threw burning oil on her, leaving her with burns on her body and part of her face.
She has been under the care of ASF since then. However, the numerous painful operations she has had to undergo are taking a toll on her. “I feel like the operations will never end,” she said.
Participants were given copies of the Acid and Burn Crime Bill 2012 so that they can better understand the crime.
They were also asked to join the Working Group Against Acid and Burn Violence (WGABV), a civil society group committed to the eradication of burn violence, defending its victims and generating awareness.
Earlier, Valerie Khan noted that the media’s role is central to raise awareness about the prevalence of acid and other burn crimes, as well as sensitising the public and government to it.
“We try to cooperate with the media as much as we can,” she said.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2012.
Thursday, May 24, 2012
As many as 51 deserving patients were operated upon during three days of the International Plastic and Reconstruction Surgery Workshop at the Surgical Unit-1 of the Benazir Bhutto Hospital (BBH) for various congenital anomalies, burns and other body disfigurements.
The 9th International Plastic and Reconstruction Surgery Workshop is being organised by the Head of Department of SU-1 at the BBH Professor Dr. Hamid Hassan in collaboration with Dr. Charles Viva from the UK from May 21 to 28.
It is important that acid burn victims have to suffer not only severe post burn deformities but also have to undergo intense emotional and psychological disorders mainly because of lack of proper treatment facilities available at the public sector hospitals of the country for burn victims.
The acid burn victims because of being untreated in most of the cases have to live too much an uncomfortable life due to social stigma attached with the phenomenon. Though the incidents of acid burns are low in comparison to other burn injuries yet the young women and adolescent girls are the most common victims of acid attacks. Most of the acid-throwing incidents are related to problems involving land, dowry demands and proposal for marriage.
In acid-burn incidents, face and chest are the most common body parts targeted by the offender and the victims are doomed because of the extensive scarring and deformity produced. Experts say that because of the extreme disfigurement caused to eyes, nose and lips, their sufferings are intense physically, emotionally and psychologically.
Professor Dr Hamid Hassan with the help of his medical team has been organising plastic and reconstructive surgery camps with the cooperation of Professor Dr. Charles Viva from England yearly for the last 10 years to provide these patients with the best treatment available.
On the second day of the workshop, on Tuesday, a total of 19 patients including six patients with congenital anomalies including cleft lip and cleft palate were operated while procedures involving ear reconstruction were done in two cases. A fresh case of acid victim, a young female patient from Multan with acid burns over chin, chest and upper back underwent wound cleansing that would be followed by skin grafting within next two days. The experts also operated a patient for a huge nerve sheath tumour called as plexiform neurofibroma over face while five other procedures were done for other body disfigurements.
On the third day of the eight-day workshop, on Wednesday, a total of 17 patients were operated of which nine were with congenital anomalies including cleft lip and cleft palate and two with acid burns over face and neck, said postgraduate trainee at SU1 Dr. Haider while talking to ‘The News’ on Wednesday. He added that two surgeries were performed to correct ear and nose deformities and six patients were operated for other body disfigurements.
Saturday, March 24, 2012
Fakhra is not a new tragedy..she was always a tragedy. Her life was a parched stretch of hard rock on which nothing bloomed. Her country of birth gave her nothing at all. Her environment of birth condemned her to social unacceptability and disrespect. She was born without any right of choice.
At the young age of 22 an acid attack left her only marginally alive .her horrific mutilation disfigured her so completely that she was now confronted by open disgust and contempt by everyone who set eyes on her in Pakistan. She also became a liability to her own family. for whom she was once a source of income.
I have met many acid victims. never have I seen one as completely disfigured as Fakhra. She had not just become faceless; her body had also melted to the bone.Despite her stark and hopeless condition, the government of the Islamic Republic Of Pakistan was not in the least God fearing. She was provided nothing..but disdain..and trashed.
At just one single request.a foreign country, Italy, immediately and urgently, arranged for everything Fakhra, and her five-year-old son Nauman required. Despite her extremely disturbing ‘image’, the gracious people of Italy never ever made her feel she was any different to any one of them! In the beautiful city of Rome, Fakhra was able to walk the streets, laze in the parks, and enter a shop or a restaurant in the most prestigious of places, without an iota of embarrassment. In fact every waiter served her more respectfully than he did any other, and every person who looked her way smiled and nodded with respect!
Were the catholic people practicing Christ’s exemplary kindness towards lepers? And were we, the followers of the great religion of Islam, and The Last Prophet (pbuh), still living in the times of ‘Jahalia?’
Despite the fact that medical insurance is extremely costly for the Italian citizen,the Italian government placed Fakhra under the exclusive supervision of one of the most highly reputed reconstructive surgeons of that country. She underwent 38 major surgeries in twelve years! Professor Charvelli’s solemn comment on hearing of the death of his incredible patient was: “I tried to mend her physical scars. but was unable to heal her soul.”
Fakhra was taught to speak fluent Italian, had extensive counseling and assistance from Italy’s social services. But much as she adjusted very well among a foreign people, acquired some semblance of existence, was provided a home from which no one could throw her out. A salary from the Italian taxpayers money.. a school with children from normal Italian families for her son.. There was not a single day that Fakhra did not pine for Pakistan.
“If I don’t get back in my lifetime,promise to take my dead body home,” were words that speak volumes for her capacity to forgive, and her oceanic generosity of spirit..It also throws a high voltage spotlight on the smallness of ‘ours’.
Fakhra was jubiliant on the day parliament passed the law of life imprisonment against acid terrorism.She celebrated the Punjab government’s vow to get that law implemented in letter and spirit on International Woman’s Day.She was thrilled when the documentary ‘Saving face’ won an Oscar award.but she also felt forgotten. As if this pioneering face of acid violence had achieved her life’s purpose. After 13 years and 38 major surgeries, she gave up pretending to be alive.
The courage it took to reject life; was not in the least comparable to the courage it had taken for her to live it. But then, Fakhra Yunas was not just an acid victim.She was a warrior. Despite the fact that the vehicle that contained the spirit of God was so deeply burnt that it had practically melted; that powerful spirit had remained inexplicably and unfathomably inextinguishable.she breathed.inhaled and exhaled that divine breath. Her courage in these last thirteen years will bare witness that she was not so weak as to commit suicide.
Her time had come.
The angel of death had come.
Otherwise, her spirit was too powerful to be put out. It was not a small flickering flame.
Never have I known a human being who has shown more spunk and grit, had such a high threshold of pain, been more accepting of life in any way and any form.and also been jubilant and excited by the smallest joys that came her way. Fakhra died thirteen years ago.
Fakhra died again to remind the world that she had lived.
Allah realised her dream to return to Pakistan. in the only way it was possible for one such as her to be here. among us, the people of this country. under the callous system that rules the ‘so-called’ Islamic Republic Of Pakistan.
Her countrymen should at least now open their hearts and give her the love and respect she so deserves.even though it shall now be hers anyway.Mother earth will receive Fakhra with open arms. And I guess that is what she really loved about Pakistan. the earth of this country.
We, the people of Pakistan should forever remain obliged to Italy, the country, and to itsr incredible people. They carried a responsibility that was ours, a duty that we shirked from..Italy and her people carried our burden on her own shoulders without any sign of tiring out. Indeed it carried the burden of humanity with the spirit of humanitarianism which is the basis of all religions.
We have failed God and Fakhra..but we can still learn a fundamental lesson from this glaring and shameful comparison. With profound gratitude to Signor Maritsi of St Angelica Industries, and to Arsilia who became a second mother to Nauman. To Professor Charvelli for his untiring persistence to give Fakhra renewed hope every time she saw an improvement in her appearance. and especially to Clarice Felli, President of Smile Again Italy, (which annulled the agreement that associated the mother body with Musarat Misbah’s NGO Smile Again-Pakistan.) Under Clarice Felli’s care, Fakhra spent some of the happiest times of her life..Clarice was a lady Fakhra loved dearly, a lady who loved her back as much if not more.
Pakistani journalist and documentarian Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s latest venture Saving Face has won an Oscar award under the category ‘Best Documentary, Short Subject’.
In her acceptance speech, Chinoy dedicated the award to “all the heroes working on the ground in Pakistan” including British Pakistani plastic surgeon Dr Mohammad Jawad, main subjects of the documentary and the women of Pakistan.
“All the women in Pakistan working for change, don’t give up on your dreams, this is for you,” she said.
Dedicating the award to main subjects Rukhsana and Zakia, Obaid-Chinoy said that their “resilience and bravery in the face of such adversary is admirable”.
Co-director Daniel Junge said he had the idea for the film after hearing about Jawad, and asked Chinoy to work with him. He has been previously nominated for an both an Oscar and an Emmy.
“To win … and with such a subject – it’s such an honour,” he said.
The documentary Saving Face chronicles the work of Dr Jawad, who performed reconstructive surgery on survivors of acid attacks in Pakistan.
The documentary, which is filmed across Islamabad, Rawalpindi and the small towns of Punjab, was released in the US in November. It is due to release in the UK in March 2012, following which it will be released in Pakistan.
“The women who decided to be a part of the documentary did so because they wanted to make their voices heard and wanted to bring attention to this form of assault,” Chinoy said in an interview conducted before she won the Oscar.
“The main reason that they are in Saving Face is to make their stories heard and have an impact.” Many victims are women attacked by their husbands, and others assaulted for turning down a proposal of marriage. One girl in the documentary describes how she was burned after rejecting the advances of her teacher. She was 13 at the time.
Another woman featured in the film is 25-year-old Rukhsana, whose husband threw acid on her and her sister-in-law doused her in gasoline before her mother-in-law lit a match and set her on fire.
Chinoy said she hopes the cases in her film will resonate for others in Pakistan.
“It is a story of hope with a powerful message for the Pakistani audience. I felt this would be a great way to show how Pakistanis can help other Pakistanis overcome their problems,” she said.
Chinoy’s films have won international acclaim. Her 2010 documentary, Pakistan’s Taliban Generation, won an International Emmy Award.
At the ceremony, Obaid-Chinoy chose to wear female designers, from her clothes and her jewellery.
“I am wearing Bunto Kazmi for the ceremony and will be wearing Sana Safinaz and Saniya Maskatiya for Oscar-related events. My jewellery will be done by Kiran Aman of Kiran Fine Jewellery and Sherezad Rahimtoola of Labels. I am really excited to showcase local Pakistani talent, and that too all women,” revealed Chinoy.
|Declaration on Improving the Criminal Justice System Combating Violence Against Women
Launched on 8th December 2011 as part of the 16 Days of Activism to End Violence Against Women and valid till date.
We recognize and appreciate the role of Government of Pakistan in important policy and legislative measures such as the passage and implementation of anti sexual harassment laws and the recent Prevention of Anti Women Practices Bill 2011, and Acid Crime Prevention Bill 2011, passed in the National Assembly and Senate. However the Criminal Justice System in Pakistan carries a great trust deficit for the marginalized sections of society including women, religious minorities and labor organizations. Violence Against Women cannot be eliminated fully unless the criminal justice system in Pakistan is made accessible, unbiased and effective for dealing with cases of violence reported by women.
We the concerned citizens of Pakistan, women’s rights activists and representatives of civil society organizations jointly present the following declaration to make the Criminal Justice System more effective in eliminating violence against women.
- We demand a criminal justice system that is supportive and sensitive to cases of violence against women. With regard to accessing justice for women in Pakistan it cannot remain only confined to access to courts or tribunals but justice should entail ensuring legal and judicial outcomes are just, transparent and equitable.
- All laws pertaining to violence against women approved by the Government need to be implemented through a coordinated response, the law enforcing agencies are generally unaware of the laws, we demand that the lawyers, police and judiciary members are briefed about the laws and a process of accountability mechanism set up to report every quarter on how cases are dealt at the district, provincial and national levels
- We are deeply concerned about the crimes of domestic violence and acid violence committed on women, we call upon the Government for immediate legislations against Domestic Violence and a comprehensive legislation against Acid Violence that criminalize such heinous acts and provide justice, protection and rehabilitation services to survivors fighting their cases.
- There have been concerns and complains from the police personnel especially at the Tehsil levels of lack of basic facilities such as, official transport, food, housing, low salaries, long working hours , personal expenditures on food, accommodation, uniform and transport which has created de-motivation in police to register complaints or deal with the law and order situation. We demand that the police stations be equipped with proper facilities to enable and empower police officers to conduct their duty in dealing with crimes of violence.
- We demand effective police reforms for reporting, investigations, independent and neutral prosecution mechanisms and an unbiased judiciary that is committed to uphold justice at the districts, provincial and national levels.
- Recognizing the right and equality to justice for all, cases of violence especially in rural and tribal areas should be dealt through proper courts and not referred to Jirga Systems (parallel judiciary system). We call upon the State to abolish such local power structures/systems that promote anti women judgements and discrimination.
- Legislation for women by the Government should recognize the principles of equality and rights specified in the constitution and the international commitments to which the State is signatory and not be based on any biases, discrimination or patriarchal beliefs or values.
- We are concerned that some of the laws that protect women from violence approved by the National assembly are either not taken up in the senate or lapsed within the 90 days of the specified time period. We call upon the Government that laws that lapsed in the past are reinstated and now follow the friendlier process applicable.
- We call upon the civil society to build strong alliances/networks and strategies of advocacy to support survivors fighting for justice against all forms of violence against women and to draw from good practices at national, regional and international levels on effective justice mechanisms.
|Endorsed by Organizations and Human Rights Activists|
‘Acid Survivors Foundation, Insan Foundation Trust, Pattan Development Organization, Women’s Organization for Rights & Development (WORD), Cavish Development Organization, Mehergarh Learning Centre, Nomad Art Gallery, SEHER, Blue Veins, Shirkatgah, Rutgerswpf, Human Rights Commission for Social Justice & Peace Baluchistan, Rozan, Aurat Foundation, Asar Institution of Woman’s Study Centre Lahore, Sustainable Development Policy Institute, UKS Research Center, Bedari, Peace Education And Development (PEAD) Foundation Alph Consultants & Advocates, Sahil, Strengthening Participatory Organization, Center for Peace & Development Initiatives, GIZ Pakistan (Gender Responsive Policing Project), DFID, Working Woman Organization, SHAD (Seeking Honor & Dignity), Al-Asar Development Organization, Creativeangerrakhshi, Sachet Pakistan, Grassroot in Action, Today’s Women Organization Baluchistan, Rural Supports Programmes Network, Amal Human Development Network, Citizen’s Rights & sustainable Development, Woman’s Association Struggle for Development, Natpow (National Trust for Population Welfare, Peace & Development Organization, Pakistan Rural Development Program, SPARC, Pattan Lok Natak, Care International, Sister Trust, Women’s concern Network, Journalists for Democracy and Human Rights , Infochange Pakistan, Shirakat, Integrated Community Development Initiative, Progressive Women’s Association, Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Taangh Wasaib Organization, National Rural Support Programme (NRSP), All Pakistan Women’s Association (APWA), Idara Baraye Taleem –o- Taraqi (IBT) Bahrain Swat and Ending Violence Against Women Alliance Islamabad
Dr. Farzana Bari Women’s Rights Activist, Dr. Zarina Salamat Peace Activist, Ms.Rabia Aslam Researcher/Activist, Ms Nasreen Azhar Women’s Rights Activist/WAF Member, Ms. Rukhsana Rashid Gender Expert, Ms. Shazreh Bano Gender Expert, Ms. Anbreen Ajaib Women’s Rights Activist.
Celebrating 12th February 2012: National Woman Day Along With National Commission On The Status Of Women And Ministry Of Human Rights, EVAWG Alliance And Schola Nova.February 20th, 2012
The Burning truth program of Acid Survivors Foundation Pakistan has always made sure that we would include youth turned into agents of change, and thus, promote the volunteers who will be in charge of generating systemic change and promote human rights. Here they are along with Valerie Khan, ASF chairperson.
Congratulations, Pakistan is proud of them!
Pakistan Film: Country’s First Oscar Nomination
January 27, 2012
A Pakistani film entitled SAVING FACE about survivors of acid attacks and the work of surgeon Dr. Mohammad Jawad has been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary, Short Subject. Karachi-based director/producer Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy and US-based director/producer received the nominations on Tuesday.
“Daniel and I are very excited about the nomination and are eager to share the story of Saving Face with the world.”
SAVING FACE follows Dr. Jawad, a London-based reconstructive surgeon as he travels to his home in Pakistan to operate on patients attacked with acid. The film also features the stories of survivors of attacks, particularly two women, Zakia and Rukhsana – both from Punjab province – as they struggle to find justice and heal emotionally and physically. The film also features the work of Acid Survivors Foundation of Pakistan (ASF), an Islamabad-based NGO aiding survivors of acid attacks.
“This is a double celebration for Pakistan,” said Jawad of the recognition. “A first for Pakistani filmmaker and moreover highlighting this terrible problem and the work I’ve been fortunate to do with the issue.”
SAVING FACE director/producer Obaid Chinoy has quickly become one of Pakistan’s most decorated filmmakers. Among her other award-winning films, PAKISTAN’S TALIBAN GENERATION won an Emmy Award in 2010.
Also producing the film is veteran Pakistani filmmaker Sabiha Sumar. Sumar brought fame to Pakistan with her debut feature film Khamosh Pani which won 17 international awards including the Golden Leopard at the Locarno International Film Festival and Dinner with the President that won the Anasy Best Documentary award.
A host of other Pakistanis also worked on the film including the film’s cameraman – Asad Faruqi, co-producer Fazeelat Aslam, and associate producer Shahbaz Sumar.
In 2008, Mir Zafar Ali, a Pakistani citizen was one of the ‘Effects Technical Director’ on Golden Compass that Best Visual Effects award. But Saving Face is the first film shot in Pakistan and directed by a Pakistani to be nominated for an Oscar.
Acid Survivors of Pakistan has documented over 150 acid attacks annually but assume the numbers are much higher as most crimes go unreported. The majority of victims are women. In 2010, following awareness campaigns from ASF, Pakistan’s Parliament enacted legislation dictating that acid violence is punishable by life imprisionment.
Obaid Chinoy points out that the success of SAVING FACE is due to its demonstration of Pakistanis successfully tackling this vexing Pakistani problem.
“This is more than an expose,” said Obaid Chinoy. “This is a film demonstrating the bravery of Pakistanis confronting this problem, including the survivors themselves, with surprisingly hopeful results.”
“Acid violence is the worst form of violence that can be inflicted to any human being,” said Valerie Khan, Chairperson Acid Survivors Foundation, “We along with other numerous volunteers are committed to empowering the victims -mostly women and children- who, once turned into proactive autonomous survivors and democratic citizens, will join the momentum to ensure that acid violence is eradicated in Pakistan and that justice prevails.”
The Academy Awards are on February 26th and SAVING FACE will screen after them at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival in London. The film was funded by HBO and UK Channel 4, who will be airing the film, respectively, in the US and UK. No Pakistani broadcast has been committed at this time.
A portion of proceeds from the film are going to Acid Survivors Foundation, Islamic Help and the primary subjects of the film.
Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Following devolution to provinces, progress made for the cause appears to have been reset. ILLUSTRATION: SAMAD SIDDIQUI
LAHORE: In a country as politically unstable as Pakistan, women’s rights activists and experts say, adoption of legislation to protect women is only a first step towards the long struggle that lies ahead for empowering women.
“Passage of the Acid Control and Acid Crime Prevention Bill 2010 is just the first step and should be taken as just that, because devolution [under the 18th amendment] has left much to be desired in terms of implementation,” Valerie Khan, chairperson of the Acid Survivors Foundation, told a seminar on gender-sensitive legislation held in Lahore on Thursday.
Khan was a panellist at the seminar organised by NGOs Mumkin Alliance, an umbrella organisation of 16 member groups working against violence against women, in collaboration with South Asia Partnership – Pakistan. Representatives from across Punjab participated in the event.
Participants agreed that determining a mechanism to effectively implement a law’s provisions, particularly at the grassroots, is the biggest challenge in the fight against gender-based violence. Police behaviour and indifference of society towards violence against women were termed as other obstacles by grass roots activists and political workers.
“An implementation mechanism is not clearly determined when legislation is prepared and that is the one link which can help bridge the gap between law and its implementation,” said Salman Abid, regional director of the Strengthening Participatory Organisation. He said legislation on the issue had been regularly taking place but attitudes had remained entrenched. “The ‘woman question’ needs to be internalised and the matter needs to be taken up as a national cause rather than as a question of gender only.”
Greater female representation in parliament was termed a positive development, but absence of support at the grassroots level was identified as a hurdle.
“The presence of women parliamentarians has been a driving force behind gender-sensitive legislation,” said Mumtaz Mughal of the Aurat Foundation, citing research conducted by her organisation. “However, following devolution [of the subject of women’s rights] to provinces, delays have occurred in creating gender-sensitivity among relevant departments.”
Mughal used Punjab as an example where constant shuffled in bureaucracy have led to inordinate delays in the passage of a bill on domestic violence, which has been drafted and tabled in the Punjab Assembly. “The bill will protect vulnerable individuals, regardless of gender.”
“The Punjab government is committed to passing bills on violence against women, primary of these being the bill on domestic violence against women,” said Begum Zakia Shahnawaz, an adviser to the Punjab chief minister, who was the chief guest.
A consensus appeared among all participants on the significance of local bodies to ensuring implementation at the grassroots level.
“The Punjab government should appoint a woman provincial ombudsman who is authorised to receive complaints on violence against women,” suggested Justice (retd) Nasira Iqbal.
“Men have to help create a space where the debate for accepting women can be generated,” said Bushra Khaliq of the Wise. “A girl, from the moment she steps out of her house to acquire an education and throughout her career, struggles against obstacles put up by society.”
Violence appears to be acceptable behaviour in Pakistan, said executive director of SAP-Pakistan Muhammad Tehseen Shah.
Grassroots activists raised the question of a lack of awareness about legislation among the activists themselves. Workers from women wings of various political parties, namely Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, participated in the seminar as well and criticised the ineffective implementation of laws.