"With words, you can say anything. You can lie as long as the day, but you cannot lie in the recreation of an experience."
~ Louise Bourgeois
Child abuse, rape, forced marriage, acid attack, honor killing, and murder in cold blood are some of the most devastating forms of violence in a third-world country like Pakistan. It was not too long ago that Qandeel Baloch, a Pakistani model was strangled to death by her brother in the name of ‘dishonoring’ her family. And just not too long ago, Asifa Bano, an 8-year old girl from Kashmir, and Zainab Ansari, a 7-year old girl from Kasur, were gang-raped and brutally murdered. These are some of the many cases of sexual violence and child abuse, which were brought forward in front of the media.
Sahil, an organization working for the protection of children against all forms of abuse in Pakistan, reports that child molestation and abuse takes place in almost all parts of Pakistan and the perpetrators, totaling 60% of the reported population, are amongst relatives and close family friends. Their data also reveals that more than 9 children who are less than 18 years of age are sexually abused every single day. In the year 2017, a total of 3,445 cases of child abuse were reported, out of which 60% were girls and 58% of those were violently murdered after rape; and a total of 143 child marriages have been reported out of which 89% were girls. According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, 80% of Pakistani women experience some form of domestic violence in their lifetime (Human Rights Watch, 2017). These are just some of the stated facts. There are many more of which we are unaware.
As an advocate for gender justice I produced, directed, and animated Laal Ribbon, a stop-motion animation, to collectively respond to the above-stated facts. Here, I share a story of Laali who is molested and raped at the age of 8 years. Tainted by the traumatic psychological and physiological experience her childhood becomes more of a nightmare when she is forced to marry.
Being female compels you to be caged within the patriarchal boundaries established around you where suffering and silencing become the food for survival. This animation is my artistic response to the various child sexual abuse, rape, trauma, forced marriage, and domestic violence cases that are reported and unreported in Pakistan. The story is not just about Laali but also of every child, girl, and woman around the world who has faced a similar reality.
A stop-motion animation that shares the story about my mother and me and her influence in my life while being miles away from her. She lives in Pakistan and I am in the U.S.
The following images are of my Master of Fine Arts in Community Arts thesis installation including 'Mom & Me' (displayed on a flatscreen TV), stitched fabric samples, photographs, antique sewing machine, tie-down puppets, and Urdu text on the wall.