Saira, Pakistan, 2009
Every year thousands of women are subjected to brutal acid attacks around the world. It is most common in countries such as Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. There are also many cases in countries such as Uganda, Colombia and, more recently, parts of Europe. It is a heinous crime that leaves its victims suffering not only physical scars but mental ones too, often leading them into a life of isolation and stigmatization. The perpetrators – in most cases men – are usually a family member, an abusive husband, relatives seeking revenge or the cause could also be a refused marriage proposal.
Some progress is being made in Pakistan and India where laws have been enacted that regulate the sale of the types of acid used in these attacks. In addition courts are beginning to recognize the importance of ensuring that men are held accountable for these heinous crimes. But problems persist. In England acid violence has increased in the past year making acid a more common form of weaponry.
During the autumn of 2009 I traveled to Pakistan. While I was there I photographed and interviewed several women who were the victims of acid attacks. The photography project I started there, “Without a Face”, is the foundation for this documentary where I explore this issue further.