Every year, more and more people in Pakistan are the victims of acid attacks. Many of the victims are women, and the offenders tend to be their husbands or families. Not only is this incredibly destructive to the woman’s body and mind, but also to their lives, as they are frequently shunned by the society they live in. Saving Face follows Zakia, a woman whose husband attacked her after she filed for divorce, Dr. Mohammad Jawad, a surgeon who returns to Pakistan to offer his services to the victims, and the move to pass a bill that would punish anybody who uses acid to harm someone, with a life sentence in prison.
Anger will be the most appropriate word to describe Saving Face. Anger at the vicious attacks these women suffer, at the way society shuns them after these attacks, and at the way the people responsible for these attacks frequently get away with it. It’s incredibly difficult to watch this film, as a stunned shock overcomes the viewer. The attitudes towards the women featured in this documentary are shocking. How is it possible that such attitudes can still exist in the world?
If the story of Zakia has a silver lining, it’s that her attack comes as the government prepares to pass legislation against these crimes. While her trial against her husband moves forward, so to does the law, with both outcomes arriving at almost the same time. During her court case, Dr. Jawad works to reconstruct her face, offering his services for free, and giving viewers some hope.