In a dramatic trending incident which saw people tweet about #JusticeforRukhsana, the integrity of Pakistani Oscar winner Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy came under the limelight.
Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy used Rukhsana in her Oscar Winning Documentary “Saving Face” in order to portray the acid violence against women due to cultural and structural inequalities towards women from Pakistani men. According to news reports from notable newspapers, Rukhsana has claimed that Chinoy had promised her 3 million rupees (Royalty payment), construction of a house on 150 Square Yards in Multan and plastic surgery prior to making the film; but as per Rukhsana, none of the promises have yet been fulfilled.
News reports have also indicated that Sharmeen Chinoy used her influence to silence Acid Survivors Association so that they refrain from supporting Rukhsana’s legal case against her. Rukhsana has also claimed that she thought that the movie would improve her living but it has rather aggravated her sufferings.
Many individuals have posted their comments with respect to the oppression against Rukhsana. Some have even inquired her about Rukhsana’s claims to which she has stated that Rukhsana’s family is basically trying to extort money and the allegations are false.
If the above claims have any validity, I think that justice should certainly prevail and Rukhsana should be presented with everything that is rightfully belongs to her.
Following are some notable tweets:
Syed Haider Karrar @HaiderKarrar
@SchimiHusseyn Sharmeen blocked me I think she can’t face the truth that she used an acid victim woman t gain popularity#JusticeforRukhsana
Schumaila Husseyn @SchimiHusseyn #JusticeforRukhsana @ShameOnSharmeen @sharmeenochinoy ‘s Oscar victory should be reconsidered. Justice is dearer than Oscar.
Awais Bilal @AwaisBilal
RT @FatimaAli52 RT @AnjumKiani: #justiceforRukhsana TRENDING NO1 in #Pakistan! Sharmeen Chinoy Exposed as the People Deliver their Justice!
PTI Nazariati @PTInazariati #JusticeForRukhsana is now the top trend in Pakistan. What a great shame for Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy and her flatterers in PTI-I.
So far @sharmeenochinoy states Rukhsana’s family is basically trying to extort money and the allegations are false.#JusticeforRukhsana
Today, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy is most hated name in Pakistan social media. She exploited an already oppressed woman.#JusticeForRukhsana
Muhammad Naeem @nmuhammad
Exploitation of the poor RT “@rameeshaaa: And we thought we were proud of u Sharmeen! #JusticeforRukhsan #ShameonSharmeen#SharmeenChinoy
Acid throwing on women is a very serious issue and must be highlighted properly – otherwise it is likely to backfire. For this celebrity NGO-activists need to develop some Code of Conduct. Many times, their (selective) approach to issues gives the impression that they are exploiting the misery of others for financial gain and publicity. This impression can be negated if they developed an informal Code of Conduct where the victims are not percieved to be exploited
This is not the first time that this has happened and Aaj TV is not the first one to highlight this issue. The makers of “Slumdog Millionaire” which won 8 Oscars were also subject to similar criticism, i.e., exploiting the misery of others for money and fame. These issues need to be addressed and an Ostrich mentality of not tolerating any criticism or questions is counterproductive. The “liberal”/elite friends of Ms. Chinoy often seem more concerned about their media clout than about the issue itself. Ms. Chinoy has clarified some of the concerns raised by the Urdu media. However, these questions might never have been raised if the (selective) NGO activism was more about the victims than those telling their stories.
Postscript: Unethical practice
On 28 June 2012, Sharmeen Chinoy tweeted that Rukhsana is currently living with her husband and in-laws who attacked her. She later posted two photos of Rukhsana and her husband as they searched for a house in Multan.
Given that Rukshana belongs to a conservative family in Muzaffargarh and practices traditional shuttlecock burqa, it is wrong of Sharmeen to publish her private pictures on the internet without her permission. Provided below are two snapshots:
Acid victim Rukhsana, featured in Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s Oscar winning documentary Saving Face, has alleged that the filmmaker promised to give her Rs3 million and a house, and also promised to help her with plastic surgery for working in the film, but did not fulfil any of her promises. But the filmmaker has denied all accusations.