Pakistan’s first Academy Award nomination, the documentary Saving Face, follows the successful struggle by the Acid Survivors Foundation to introduce a law ensuring a minimum 14-year prison sentence for perpetrators of acid attacks. There are 150 such attacks, mostly on women and children, reported each year in Pakistan. This type of violence is spreading worldwide. The film follows plastic surgeon Mohammad Jawad, who holds free clinics to repair victims’ faces, and Zakia, a survivor who attempts to bring the husband who attacked her to justice.
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Ugandan first lady Janet Museveni, who threw a “virgin party” for 70,000 young Ugandans last year, is now proposing a nationwide “virgin census.” She changed her focus from promoting condoms to promoting abstinence after her conversion to evangelical Christianity and an increase in U.S. funding for abstinence programs under the Bush Administration. This especially harms women who contract HIV through marriage and can’t use condoms for fear of being labeled unfaithful, or for poor women doing sex work to survive. HIV had declined due to the “Abstain, Be faithful, use Condoms” (ABC) program, but is now rising.
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For 30 years, the Argentinian activist group Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo has been demanding the return of the children of some of the 30,000 citizens executed for being supposed “leftist subversives” during the “Dirty War” of 1976 to 1983. The 400 to 500 children given to families loyal to the military dictatorship who often murdered their parents are now in their 20s and 30s and are mostly unaware of their true identities. Since 2007, a series of trials has been seeking to document human rights abuses during the dictatorship. Currently, 11 former military leaders are accused of kidnapping. U.S. Democratic Congressman Maurice Hinchey is seeking the declassification and release of U.S. government records that could prove a systematic plan to appropriate the children sanctioned by the highest levels of power. It could as well help identify the children.