Oscar winning documentary raises awareness of acid attacks and humanitarian plastic surgery

March 30, 2012

Oscar winning documentary raises awareness of acid attacks and humanitarian plastic surgery
Oscar winning documentary raises awareness of acid attacks and humanitarian plastic surgery

 The Academy Awards are all about glamour. There is endless talk about what celebrities are wearing, who looks best and, of course, who wins. However, at this year's Oscars, one film took on more serious tone.

Saving Face is a documentary that won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short. The film follows two Pakistani women who suffered facial deformities following acid attacks by their husbands.

The two victims in the film, Zakia and Rukhsana, undergo plastic surgery at the hands of a Pakistani-born plastic surgeon living in the U.K. who returns to his homeland to help victims of these attacks. Zakia was scarred when her abusive husband threw battery acid at her when she sought a divorce. Rukhsana was injured when her husband threw acid at her, her sister-in-law threw gasoline and her mother-in-law set her on fire.

And, they're not alone. According to the San Francisco Gate, about a hundred women and girls in Pakistan are victims of acid attacks each year. The Huffington Post reports that 1,500 attacks are reported worldwide and 40% of them are under the age of 18.

"Most times, men who throw acid are members of one's own family, they don't get prosecuted," the film's director, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, said to the Los Angeles Times. "They don't get sent to jail and it emboldens other people. If you look at any Third World country where there is abject poverty, you find there is violence against women. They are the first line of easy defense you can knock over."

The featured physician, Dr. Mohammad Jawad practices in London, where he performs routine plastic surgery procedures, such as breast implant surgery, facelifts and rhinoplasty (nose jobs). However, he regularly travels back to Pakistan to help repair the faces and self-esteem of disfigured women like those in the film.

Jawad admits it is difficult to manage some of his acid victims' expectations, and invites other plastic surgeons to help him tackle this problem. Some of the disfigured women need up to 20 surgeries to restore their appearance.

"There's only so much I can do," he says in the film.

To help this cause or learn more, go to Acid Survivors Trust International and read about the movement in Pakistan and worldwide. 


The mission of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) includes medical education, public education and patient advocacy. Plastic Surgery News Briefs are summaries of current stories found through various news and magazine outlets that relate to or mention plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures. The views expressed in these news articles do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ASAPS, but are merely published as an educational service to our members and the general public. For additional information on these subjects and other plastic surgery related topics, please go to www.surgery.org

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The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), is recognized as the world’s leading organization devoted entirely to aesthetic plastic surgery and cosmetic medicine of the face and body.  ASAPS is comprised of over 2,600 Plastic Surgeons; active members are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (USA) or by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and have extensive training in the complete spectrum of surgical and non-surgical aesthetic procedures. International active members are certified by equivalent boards of their respective countries. All members worldwide adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and must meet stringent membership requirements.

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