‘Saving Face’ Review

While I might have thought I’d heard a fair amount about just how ghastly life can be for some women in the Islamic world, I’d not heard about acid attacks before. This is when men decide to punish their wives by throwing acid in their faces, leaving them horrendously disfigured. Apparently this happens around 100 times a year in Pakistan, and those are just the reported events.

This Oscar-winning short documentary features several victims of such attacks. The interviews with them are truly harrowing, particularly as one woman explains how her alcoholic husband repeatedly beat her and stole her money, when she finally filed for divorce he responded by throwing battery acid at her. Or another who was attacked at the age of 13 for refusing the advances of an older man. Most of these men face no consequences.

There are also sickening interviews with a few of the perpetrators, one who flat out denies that he did anything wrong and that she did it to herself, another who suggests that she’s his property and as she wanted a divorce it was a question of his ‘dignity’. One victim’s father in law even goes so far to suggest that she deserved this treatment.

Equally depressing are the numerous mentions of God by the victims, believing that this is the life god has ‘chosen for them’.

Despite all this, it is in fact a very hopeful film. It follows a Pakistan-born London-based plastic surgeon as he returns to his home country to perform reconstructive operations on victims. It also follows events leading to a landmark legal decision by Parliament.

This is an important and very powerful documentary which highlights an issue needing exposure, whose impact will remain with you long after its brief running time.

4/5

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