Notes to Women

Inspiring, encouraging and motivating women to be their best

Posts Tagged ‘Pakistan’

Hearing Postponed for Fourth Time

Posted by notestowomen on April 18, 2014

A while ago I posted an alert about Asia Bibi who had yet to have a hearing for blasphemy charges she was facing.  Again she has been denied a court hearing.  Please read the update below.  Pray that Asia will have her day in court.  Pray for her family.   If you want to help Asia, you can write a letter to encourage her or you can petition an official.

Prisoner Alert
Update

Asia Bibi

prisoner

Write a Letter Petition Official

Location: Pakistan
Arrested: June 2009

For the fourth time this year, a court hearing for Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi has been postponed. Asia has been waiting in limbo for years since her June 2009 arrest while her case drags through the appeals process — and multiple delays. Hearings set for Feb. 14, March 17, March 26 and now April 14 have all been postponed for various reasons. No future trial date has been set. More Info

WHAT YOU CAN DO TODAY

Hello Friends.

Since our last communication with you, the Prisoner Alert for Asia Bibi has been viewed over 34400 times, and over 17500 letters of encouragement have been sent. What a blessing this must have been to Asia Bibi — and what a message it will have sent to the officials, that this person is cared for internationally.

Now imagine what could happen if we could double, triple or increase by ten or one hundred-fold the number of people, around the World, that are praying and writing on behalf of those imprisoned and persecuted for their faith.

You can help. Please forward this email to those you know have a heart for God’s people and encourage them to sign-up too. It’s the work of friends telling friends that will bring the greatest response to those who need it most.

Thank you in advance for partnering with us on behalf of those who suffer for the Lord.

Response So Far

5949
GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS EMAILED
17520
ENCOURAGING LETTERS WRITTEN
100427
ALERTS SENT
34495
ALERTS VIEWED

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Christian Woman’s Appeal Hearing Postponed

Posted by notestowomen on March 20, 2014

I received this Prisoner Release update in an email from The Voice of the Martyrs Canada.  Please read Asia’s story and pray for her and her family.  This young wife and mother was arrested since 2009 and has been in prison until now.  Imagine being separated from your family, anxiously awaiting an appeal only to have it postponed.   Pray that neither Asia nor her family will be discouraged by this major setback.

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” – Romans 8:28.  God has plans for Asia just as He had plans for Joseph who was falsely accused of rape and thrown into prison.  God was with him all the time he was there just as He is with Asia.

I encourage you to visit the prayer wall and pray for Asia and other Christians like her who are being persecuted and imprisoned for their faith and the families of those brave men and women who have died for their faith.

PAKISTAN: Asia Bibi’s Appeal Hearing Postponed

Sources: Asia News, Release International


Remember in prayer
Asia’s husband and children.

The appeal hearing for Asia Bibi, a Christian woman imprisoned for blasphemy, has been postponed “to a later date.” Asia was arrested in 2009 on charges of insulting Mohammed and later sentenced to death. Since then, she has been waiting for her appeal to be heard while being held in isolation at the women’s prison in Sheikhupura (Punjab). (For more on Asia’s case, click here.)

Initially scheduled for March 17th, Asia’s first hearing was cancelled due to the absence of one of the two presiding judges. Under Pakistani law, two judges have to be present in death penalty cases for the entire trial.

The high-profile case remains hugely controversial in Pakistan. The former Governor of Punjab, Salmaan Taseer, was killed by his bodyguard in January of 2011 after showing support for Asia. Then, two months later, Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, a Christian, was assassinated after voicing support for Asia and demanding reform of the country’s blasphemy laws. Shahbaz’s brother is now facing death threats. (For more on these threats, click here.) Late last year, Pakistan’s Federal Sharia Court demanded that blasphemy should carry a mandatory death sentence.

After this disappointing setback, pray that the Lord will continue to sustain Asia and her loved ones as they await the appeal hearing. May the judges and other authorities pursue justice, and may they also be protected from those who wish them harm as a result. Ask God to use this case for His good purposes, transforming the hearts and lives of those who do not yet know Him and encouraging believers to be courageous in their faith.

To share your prayers for Asia and her family, please visit our Persecuted Church Prayer Wall.

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Polio Vaccines

Posted by notestowomen on February 10, 2013

I was appalled when I learned of the Nigerian women who were gunned down because they were giving out polio vaccines.  They were killed by gunmen suspected of belonging to a radical Islamic sect shot and killed at least nine as they took part part in a polio vaccination drive in northern Nigeria on Friday, February 8, 2013.  Residents of Kano, Nigeria’s largest city, predominantly Muslim were shocked.  This area is where women usually went from house to house to carry out the polio vaccination drives since families felt safer having them in their homes instead of men.  This attack is a result based on the belief fueled by clerics that the vaccines were part of a Western plot to sterilize young girls.

Washington’s State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland condemned the killing and injuring of health workers in Nigeria.  “They were engaged in life-saving work, trying to vaccinate children,” she told reporters. “Any violence that prevents children from receiving basic life-saving vaccines is absolutely unacceptable wherever it happens.”  It is suspected that Boko Haram had been behind the shootings.  Witnesses spoke in anonymity out of fear of angering the sect whose name means “Western education is sacrilege”.

The suspicion surrounding polio vaccinations in Nigeria was kindled in 2003 when a Kano physician heading the Supreme Council for Shariah in Nigeria said the vaccines were “corrupted and tainted by evildoers from America and their Western allies.” This remark led to hundreds of new infections in children in Nigeria’s north where beggars on locally made wooden skateboards dragged their withered legs back and forth in traffic, begging for alms. The 2003 disease outbreak in Nigeria eventually spread throughout the world,  even causing infections in Indonesia.  Nigeria is one of three countries where polio remains endemic.  Afghanistan and Pakistan are the other two.  Imagine last year Nigeria registered 121 new cases of polio infections. This is more than half of all cases reported around the world, according to data from the World Health Organization.

Attacks on health workers giving out polio vaccines are not limited to Nigeria.  The National Post did an article on how the polio vaccine program in Pakistan was proving to be lethal for health workers.  Last year in December, eight of them, mostly young, female and poorly paid were murdered in Karachi and northwestern Pakistan.   Militants in Pakistan have accused health workers of acting as spies for the U.S., alleging that the vaccine is intended to make Muslim children sterile.  This accusation comes after it was revealed that a Pakistani doctor ran a fake vaccination program to help the CIA track down and kill al-Qaida founder Osama bin Laden.  The UN has suspended the vaccine program until it’s safe enough to restart.  This may be indefinite unless the government steps in and does something to curb the escalating violence.  In the meantime, foreign aid workers are either being killed or abducted for ransom and teenage girls volunteering to prevent the spread of polio are being killed.  The World Health Organization (WHO) suspended its polio vaccination programme in Karachi following the murders of five members of polio vaccination teams.  All were women and the youngest was 14 years old.  They were all Pakistani nationals working on behalf of WHO and its local partners.

Polio (poliomyelitis) is a contagious disease that can be prevented by vaccination. It is spread from person to person and through contaminated food and water. Polio can attack the central nervous system and destroy the nerve cells that activate muscles.  It is heartbreaking to know that children are are going to suffer from this viral disease which can affect their nerves and lead to partial or full paralysis because certain local populations are refusing to allow their children to receive the vaccine.  The communities are worried about sterilization but what about paralysis or in some cases, death?  Why don’t they educate themselves and learn more about how the vaccine works before they flat out refuse to have it administered to their children?

The poliomyelitis ( polio ) vaccine protects against poliovirus infections. The vaccine helps the body produce antibodies (protective substances) that will prevent an individual from contracting polio.  This protects both both individual vaccine recipients and the wider community.  There are two types of vaccine that protect against polio: inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) and oral polio vaccine (OPV). IPV, used in the United States since 2000, is given as an injection in the leg or arm, depending on patient’s age.  Most people should get polio vaccine when they are children.  OPV has not been used in the United States since 2000 but is still used in many parts of the world.

A global effort to eradicate polio, led by the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and The Rotary Foundation, began in 1988 and has relied largely on the oral polio vaccine developed by Albert Sabin.  The disease was entirely eradicated in the Americas by 1994. Polio was officially eradicated in 36 Western Pacific countries, including China and Australia in 2000.   Europe was declared polio-free in 2002.   Since January 2011, there were no reported cases of the disease in India, and hence in February 2012, the country was taken off the WHO list of polio endemic countries. It is reported that if there are no cases of polio in the country for two more years, it will be declared as a polio-free country.

It is high time that Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan be declared as polio-free countries.  The government needs to protect the health workers who are risking their lives to protect the communities.  It’s time the governments of these countries got serious about eradicating polio so that children are not condemned to living the rest of their lives in wheelchairs or on crutches.  The people need to be educated.  They need information that would counter the tales that polio vaccination is a ploy of the West to spread infidel practices.

It’s time for the governments of Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan to stand up and do what is best for their young and vulnerable.  And if nothing is done to stop the spread of this virus, these nations will become crippled and sick.  It’s time to take action.  It’s time to put aside your fears and protect your children and their future.

His parents fear OPV will render his son impotent and that he will never be able to produce children in case of vaccination. Despite repeated attempts, they didn’t understand the significance of the vaccine. As a result, their child is disabled for entire life.SOURCE: Rantburg 2013-02-10 05:25:00

They were engaged in lifesaving work, trying to vaccinate children … Any violence that prevents children from receiving basic life-saving vaccines is absolutely unacceptable, wherever it happens..SOURCE: Arkansas Online 2013-02-09 11:11:00

Having children made us look differently at all these things that we take for granted, like taking your child to get a vaccine against measles or polio.
Melinda Gates

When I was about 9, I had polio, and people were very frightened for their children, so you tended to be isolated. I was paralyzed for a while, so I watched television.
Francis Ford Coppola

polio vaccine

Sources:  http://http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/witnesses-nigeria-sect-group-attacks-polio-drives-18437814; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002375/; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polio_vaccine; http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/12/20/pakistans-polio-vaccine-program-proving-lethal-for-health-workers/; http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/tmp-pmv/info/polio-eng.php; http://www.healthofchildren.com/P/Polio-Vaccine.html; http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=149114&Cat=8; http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/polio/default.htm; http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/topic/polio/quotes/; http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/polio.html#76XBp9gi2wMCs364.99

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The Malala Fund

Posted by notestowomen on November 18, 2012

I got this in an email from Vital Voices and thought I should share it with you.  The mission of Vital Voices  is to identify, invest in and bring visibility to extraordinary women around the world by unleashing their leadership potential to transform lives and accelerate peace and prosperity in their communities.  Help them by supporting the Malala Fund so that they could fulfill this brave teenager’s dream of access to education for all.  Think of the little girls you will be helping.  Think about your daughters and granddaughters and how fortunate they are to be able to graduate from high-school and college and enter into the workforce.

malala%20hero%20draft%203

Dear A.,

 

Last month, teenage activist and blogger Malala Yousafzai was targeted for her outspoken advocacy and support for girls’ education. She was shot by the Taliban near her school in Pakistan’s Swat Valley, and the world took notice. Hundreds of thousands have voiced their support and sent messages to Malala, who continues to receive critical care on her long road to recovery.

In commemoration of Malala Day — November 10 — championed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UN Special Envoy for Education Gordon Brown, Vital Voices is launching the Malala Fund on behalf of Malala and her family, working together with supporting advisors and friends of the cause, including the United Nations Foundation and Girl Up, and several other organizations and individuals.

I spoke with Malala’s father this week from her bedside at the hospital in Birmingham. He said Malala is doing well on her long road to recovery, and they feel blessed with the outpouring of support. She’s received cards and messages from girls all over the world thanking her for her courage and for giving them a voice. The Fund will support the education and empowerment of girls in Pakistan and around the world by providing grants to civil society organizations and individuals focused on education. It will be advised by a committee comprising education experts and entrepreneurs, as well as Malala — when she is well enough — and her family.

This is such an important cause and we are proud to do our part to contribute. Today, the right to education is denied to 61 million children of primary school age, including 32 million girls. This is a statistic we have the power to change.

Please raise your voice on behalf of Malala and the millions of girls who struggle to get their voices heard. Support the Malala Fund and together, we will help a teenage girl from Pakistan fulfill her dream of access to education for all.

Warmly,

 

 

Donate Now

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Summer News: SOC Films Documentary Series

Posted by notestowomen on June 20, 2012

I wanted to share this email from Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, the first Pakistani woman to win an Oscar for her film Saving Face in 2012 and one of TIME Magazine’s most influencial people of the world.

Dear Friends,

A lot has happened since the Academy Awards in February in LA…I have begun work on a new series of documentary films which are being aired for the first time on TV Channels across Pakistan-

In a unique partnership with Coca-Cola, my production company SOC Films has launched a 6 part documentary series titled “Ho Yaqeen” featuring Pakistanis doing extraordinary things and transforming their communities.

The first episode of the series launched 2 weeks ago: Please do tune in to watch it, links are below:

Part1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMO2M9s4Lxs
Part2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5uZXt3hJBno

Please do share these links with friends and family….

In other news, i was very fortunate to have been named by Time Magazine as one of the 100 most Influential people in the world- (http://goo.gl/OFVhZ)
This positive reinforcement helps us get the message of our Academy Award winning film Saving Face out.

As more episodes of Ho Yaqeen become available i shall send them out on this mailing list. I am also involved in two more exciting documentary ventures outside of Pakistan which i shall share with you later in the summer….

All my very best
Sharmeen

You can check out Sharmeen’s website at:  http://sharmeenobaidfilms.com/bio/  I will keep you posted on Sharmeen’s exciting ventures. 

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SUMMIT of Women Leaders that Care

Posted by notestowomen on March 10, 2012

I got this email today and wanted to share it with you.

A Celebration of Women TM
presents…
SUMMIT of Women Leaders that Care 

“WOMAN of ACTION: Key to Equity, Justice and Peace “
Saturday, March 24, 2012
10:00am until 5:00pm, networking & meet the Speakers until 7PM
A Celebration of WomenTM is a global organization born to celebrate the lives of women leaders from around the globe. Conceived in 2009, this organi…zation today houses hundreds of women leaders inside an Alumni named WOMEN of ACTION. Each and every woman attached to this SUMMIT is a member of our Alumni.

 

From Dr. Chen’s work with the Body Shop’s Stop Sex Trafficking campaign, Dr. Sharif’s account of “An Afghan Woman’s Journey”, Dr. Shabnam Nazli, founder of Hope Development Organization now A Celebration House™, Mama Zuma with Rosetta Standard’s organization ZIMELE, talking about sustainable micro business development, Diane Longboat, A Mohawk from Six Nations, Grand River Territory and after all of this, we will be surprising you with a Celebration of our premiere MAN of ACTION – a treat that you will not want to miss ( this gent is a real Gem, and A Celebration of Women will find those Gems inside the matrix of our society) …..

After this journey you will never be the same, as these women will awaken, inspire and motivate you to TAKE ACTION where and when you are, transforming the world around you. This experience will leave you breathless, in tears of joy and filled with the energy required to act, loving wholeheartedly the simple truths of being a WOMEN of ACTION.Limited seating so reserve your tickets now at www.acelebrationofwomen.org
**************************************************************
TICKETS $80.00 per person before March 23; $90.00 at the door; Groups of 10 for $500.00Saturday, March 24, 2012 from 9:30am – 5:00pm
Networking 5:00pm -7:00pm
@ The Centre for Women’s Studies in Education (CWSE) in the OISE building at UofT
252 Bloor Street West
**************************************************************
Featuring….

Dr. Loretta Chen, PhD
Social Activist
Ambassador to The Body Shop’s Stop Sex Trafficking
Hermes’ PS I Silk You outreach program for underprivileged girls
Evian’s Live Young Campaign

Dr. Sharifa Sharif, PhD
Author – On the Edge of Being: An Afghan Women’s Journey
Cultural Advisor for Afghanistan in Canada

Rosetta Standard and Mama Zuma
Zimele, A program which seeks to develop self-sustainable communities through creating self-help savings groups, microbusinesses, mentorships, and non-profit projects

Diane Longboat
Kahontakawas is from the Turtle Clan
A Mohawk from Six Nations, Grand River Territory
Traditional Teacher, Ceremonial Leader

Dr. Shabnam Nazli, PhD
Founder, Hope Development Organization now A Celebration House focuses on Women’s Rights in Pakistan

Monika and Graham Burwise
Founder, Global Awakening Institute

and much more…

ORDER Online at www.acelebrationofwomen.org
Tickets $80.00 before March 23rd – Get your tickets now!

About US

A Celebration of Women™ is the FIRST global forum where Women Leaders are being ‘celebrated’ for spearheading positive action. A transformation of the Women’s Movement has begun through our WORLD HUB ~ Wheel of Women Leaders that Care. Through the creation of our alumni WOMEN of ACTION the butterfly effect has begun through local changes resulting in global differences.

Our WOMEN of ACTION are trailblazers in this millennium pioneering the new woman’s movement, “Equality of Women among Women”, working to create a sustainable socio-economic independence for all Women. True to its advocacy mandate, A Celebration of Women™ is the world hub for all NGOs to celebrate their founders, collaborate in their missions and TAKE ACTION.

We haven’t forgot you MEN, our MEN of ACTION aren’t that far behind, we’re actively looking for YOU! Come and join us and meet our FIRST MAN of ACTION. Through our celebration of positive action that is taking place in our world, we attract more women and men to become leaders and TAKE ACTION in their communities.

Are you ready to join us, and become a WOMAN or MAN of ACTION?

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Breakdown in the Closet

Posted by notestowomen on March 9, 2012

MAMA: Motherhood Around the Globe, explores the realities and ideas of a new global generation of mothers through art, stories, and powerful new voices. The exhibition aims to turn inspiration into action helping fuel a worldwide movement of advocates for mothers’ human rights and advances in maternal health. Just recently I got an email from them to vote for our favorite community piece. The voting ended February 29.  The finalists were very impressive.  They were as follows:

Each of these stories represents an important, and unique, aspect of motherhood around the globe.  I voted for Birthmarkings because it explores self-image and how our bodies change after we have children.  Some women feel self-conscious and unattractive.  I never felt unattractive because of my husband.  He always made me feel beautiful.  My self-image after birth has not changed.  My changed body is a reminder for me of how blessed I am to be a mother.

The winner of this competition is Humaira Abid’s Breakdown in the Closet.  What a concept.  Six wooden hangers in a closet–two of them bare.  These two hangers depict the pain and disappointment that comes along with miscarriage—a frequently unspoken part of many women’s experiences of pregnancy and motherhood.  The clothes look so real.  It’s hard to believe that they are made of wood.  We see the mother’s dress and the father’s pants and shirts.  This is a family wardrobe.  A husband and wife are expecting a child but tragedy strikes.  On the floor between the mother’s and the father’s clothes, we notice something that stands out in sharp contrast–the red baby shirt.  This is meant to represent the mother’s miscarriage and both parents’ loss.

Humaira explains that this work is a part of a series called “RED” named such because the color red represents love, passion, blood, anger, and loss–all strong emotions. Yes in the subcontinent, red is the traditional color of bridal dresses, and often is associated with love, sexuality, and fertility. Yet in some parts of Africa, red is a color of mourning and death-often associated with the color of blood. She herself suffered from miscarriages so she knows how tough this can take both a physical and emotional toll on women.

As the winner, Humaira Abid receives a US$1,000 prize, with $500 going to the artist and $500 going to a nonprofit charity of her choice!  Notes to Women congratulate this amazing artist who uses her work to a very painful experience for women.  Unfortunately miscarriage is very common, occurring in about one in five pregnancies.  Some women feel a strong sense of guilt, even though it is not their fault. These are natural reactions.

Breakdown in the Closet brilliantly and skillfully addresses a topic that is very difficult for women.  Humaira’s work recognized internationally for its originality and excellence has earned her a gold medal. Her work has been exhibited in Malaysia, India, Mauritius, Nepal, Kenya, Dubai, Bolivia, Germany, Russia, UK and USA. Humaira graduated from National College of Arts Lahore, Pakistan with Honors in the year 2000. She majored in Sculpture, with Miniature as her double minor.  We salute this internationally renown artist who uses her art to take action against the issue of gender inequality.  Brava Humaira.

We are pleased to announce that last month Humaira had her first child.  Congratulations, Humaira.  We wish mother and baby all the best.

If you are interested in seeing more of Humaira’s art, check out her website at:  http://www.humaira.com.pk/

I am from a country and society where showing your emotions and expressing your opinion is not welcomed–especially if you are a woman. Many experiences and roles of women are not properly appreciated. They are simply considered to be their duty or part of life.

I am trying to raise these issues through my work, which counters the stereotypical image of women in a male dominated society. In an environment where women have a considerable way to go to become full partners of men, I want my work to reflect the aspiration for gender equality.

Source:  http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/diseases/facts/miscarriage.htmhttp://mama.imow.org/yourvoices/breakdown-closet

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Pakistan’s Senate Passes Domestic Violence Bill

Posted by notestowomen on February 28, 2012

I read this evening on the website for Violence is Not Our Culture about the passing of domestic violence bill in Pakistan.  VNC congratulated their partners Baidarie Sialkot and Shirkat Gah and other civil society groups and women’s human rights activists who have been campaigning over the past few years to pass this bill.

Baidarie Sialkot is a non-government and non-profit organization which was established in 1993 by the rural women of UC Roras who were keen to work for the empowerment and development of the women of the area. It carries out its operations without having religious, lingual, political and social discriminations to motivate the rural communities, particularly women, to take an active part in the social developmental process. The organization strives hard to develop women into active, productive and dynamic citizens of the country.

Shirkat Gah literally means a place of participation. It was formed as a non hierarchical collective in 1975 by a group of women with a shared perspective on women’s rights and development.

The organizations’ fundamental goal was to encourage women to play a full and equal role in society by promoting and protecting the social and economic development of women already participating in, or wanting to participate in, the national development.

The Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) bill makes violence against women and children an offence carrying jail terms and fines, state media said.  It was introduced by Senator Nilofar Bakhtiar and passed unanimously by the upper house of the federal parliament, Pakistan Television reported.  It was passed unanimously in the National Assembly, the lower house in parliament almost three years ago in August 2009.  It will come into effect after it is signed into legislation by President Asif Ali Zardari.

Under this bill those found guilty of beating women or children will face a minimum six months behind bars and a fine of at least 100,000 rupees ($1,100).  In addition to protecting children and women, it provides protection to the adopted, employed and domestic associates in a household.

The law classifies domestic violence as acts of physical, sexual or mental assault, force, criminal intimidation, harassment, hurt, confinement and deprivation of economic or financial resources.   In the past if a man beat her wife or children, the police could not arrest him because it was considered a domestic affair.  Now, thanks to the passing of this bill, the police can step in and make an arrest.

Human rights groups say that Pakistani women suffer severe discrimination, domestic violence and so-called “honour” killings.  This means that a victim is murdered for allegedly bringing dishonour upon her family.  I read that in Afghanistan running away from an abusive husband or a forced marriage are considered “moral crimes”, for which women are currently imprisoned.  Rape victims are imprisoned because sex outside marriage, even when the woman is forced, is considered adultery, another “moral crime”.  I cannot believe that the woman who is abused by her husband is imprisoned.  I fail to see how rape can be classified as adultery which is consensual sex between two people outside of marriage.  Rape is not about sex.  It is a violent act.  And rape victims should be protected not treated like criminals.   It would be really great if Afghanistan were to pass a similar bill.

It is believed that the spread of Islamist fundamentalism is increasingly isolating the women in Pakistan, especially in the areas where the Taliban are.  Thankfully this bill will change things in the Pakistani women’s favor.  Men will no longer get away with their crimes.

It is truly a victory for Pakistan and especially the women and children whose rights are finally going to be protected.  This is a testimony that awareness + action = change.

Source:  http://abusehelplines.org/2012/02/21/pakistans-senate-unanimously-passes-domestic-violence-bill/

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Saving Face

Posted by notestowomen on February 27, 2012

I was thrilled last night when I saw the documentary, Saving Face win the Oscar.  It was a proud moment for Canadian Pakistani filmmaker, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy as she made history as Pakistan’s first Oscar winner.  Chinoy hopes that this Oscar win will ignite a flourishing film industry in Pakistan.

Saving Face is a documentatry about acid attacks. The film follows London-based Pakistani plastic surgeon, Dr. Mohammad Jawad, as he journeys to Pakistan to perform reconstructive surgery on survivors of acid violence. Saving Face also broaches the subject of the under-reporting of acid violence due to cultural and structural inequalities towards women.  The film also features two women attacked by acid and their struggle for justice and healing. The Acid Survivors Foundation of Pakistan, which is featured in the film, had documented over 100 acid attacks a year in Pakistan but estimates far more due to lack of reporting.

Obaid-Chinoy has also stated that the film is “a positive story about Pakistan on two accounts: firstly, it portrays how a Pakistani-British doctor comes to treat them and it also discusses, in great depth, the parliament’s decision to pass a bill on acid violence”. Obaid-Chinoy has also said that the film assisted in the trial and conviction of one of the perpretrators of acid violence on a female victim.

“I am so grateful for the Academy’s recognition of this film and the issues highlighted here. No-one who sees these women could fail to be moved. Each beautiful in their own way, their lives have been destroyed, their faces and bodies disfigured, often by members of their own families,” Jawad said following the film’s success at the 84th Academy Awards.  “They are the real heroes here. They have been ostracised from society following the terrible attacks that have been inflicted upon them. I merely try to restore God’s creation, which has been destroyed by such evil acts of human beings, in the best way I know how. I hope that awareness of the cause will help to eradicate this beast of a man-made disease from society,” Jawad said.

Sharmeen Obaid was born in Karachi attended the Karachi Grammar School. She graduated from Smith College with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Government and fromStanford Uni with master’s degrees in International Policy Studies and in Communication.Obaid-Chinoy is an Emmy award winning producer and journalist.  She won an Emmy for her documentary, Pakistan: Children of the Taliban in 2010. She is also the first non-American to win the Livingston Award for Young Journalists.

Her career in documentary began when she examined the plight of Afghani refugee children in Pakistan for one of her articles. Their situation was so dire, and their stories so compelling, that Sharmeen decided to return to Pakistan and create a film about them. She petitioned Smith College and New York Times Television production division for the grants that would allow her to accomplish her goals. Intrigued by her story, both organizations gave her the funds as well as production equipment and training. She is currently a faculty member at media sciences department in SZABIST (Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and technology, Karachi). Obaid-Chinoy is also on the board member of The Citizens Archive of Pakistan (CAP).

Known for documentaries dealing with life in the Muslim world, Obaid became the first non-American to win the Livingston Award. Her films have aired on such networks as Channel 4,CNN, PBS, and Al-Jazeera.  She began her career with New York Times Television in 2002 where she produced Terror’s Children, a film about Afghan refugee children, which won her the Overseas Press Club Award, the American Women and Radio and Television Award, and the South Asian Journalist Association Award.  Since then, she has produced and reported on more than twelve films around the world.

Obaid produced and reported on four multi-award winning documentary films for New York Times Television. In 2003, Reinventing the Taliban was awarded the Special Jury Award at the BANFF TV festival in Canada, the CINE Golden Eagle Award, the American Women in Radio and Television award, and the Livingston Award. In 2005, her film Women of the Holy Kingdom, which provided an inside look at the women’s movement in Saudi Arabia, won the South Asian Journalist Association Award.

In 2005, Obaid began working with Channel 4 in the United Kingdom reporting on four films for their Unreported World series. Pakistan’s Double Game looked at sectarian violence in Pakistan, City of Guilt explored the Catholic Church’s pro-life movement in the Philippines, The New Apartheid looked into growing xenophobia in South Africa, and Birth of a Nationdelved into the politics of East Timor. In 2007, Obaid was named “journalist of the year” by the One World Media awards for her work in the series.

In 2007, Obaid travelled to Afghanistan and reported for Channel 4 and CNN. Her film, Afghanistan Unveiled/Lifting the Veil, focuses on stalled reconstruction and the repression of women in the country.

Acid throwing (acid attack or vitriolage) is a form of violent assault. It is defined as the act of throwing acid onto the body of a person “with the intention of injuring or disfiguring him or her out of jealousy or revenge”. Perpetrators of these attacks throw acid at their victims, usually at their faces, burning them, and damaging skin tissue, often exposing and sometimes dissolving the bones. The long term consequences of these attacks include blindness and permanent scarring of the face and body.  These attacks are most common in Cambodia, Afghanistan, India, Bangladesh,Pakistan and other nearby countries. According to Taru Bahl and M.H. Syed, 80% of victims of these acid attacks are female and almost 70% are under 18 years of age.

According to New York Times reporter Nicholas D. Kristof, acid attacks are at an all time high in Pakistan and increasing every year. The Pakistani attacks he describes are typically the work of husbands against their wives who have “dishonored them”.

Obaid-Chinoy’s win has been the cause for celebration in her home country.  Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani announced that Obaid-Chinoy would be receiving a civil award for her achievements on Monday, according to the Associated Press. She is the first Pakistani to win an Oscar.

She dedicated her Oscar to “all the women in Pakistan working for change.  Don’t give up on your dreams. This is for you.”

Saving Face airs March 8 on HBO Canada.

Notes to Women congratulates this remarkable woman whose passion for sharing stories of women and children and their plight has earned her the recognition she deserves.  Sharmeen, you made your country and women around the world very proud.

Sources:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saving_Face_(documentary); http://ca.news.yahoo.com/canadian-pakistani-filmmaker-nabs-oscar-documentary-short-acid-160219303.htmlhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sharmeen_Obaid-Chinoyhttp://sharmeenobaidfilms.com/http://www.dawn.com/2012/02/27/the-victims-are-the-real-heroes.htmlhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acid_throwinghttp://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/pakistan/120227/saving-face-oscar-winner-sharmeen-obaid-chinoy-ce

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