Is there anything more depressing than unrequited love?
Getting turned down for a marriage proposal — whether it be on a jumbotron during a basketball game, a family celebration or a planned flash mob, or on a secluded beach — is utterly humiliating, often times for both parties.
But the experience of being rejected could never compare to the agony that these women from Pakistan have endured because of acid throwing — all for turning down a man’s proposal.
In many countries around the world, forced and arranged marriages are routine. So, saying “no” isn’t really an option for women and little girls. A refusal has monstrous consequences, such as death or lifelong bodily disfigurement.
The women featured in the slideshow above were documented by renowned photographer Emilio Morenatti. As part of his series aimed at raising awareness about domestic violence and giving victims a voice, he photographed women who were doused in acid for refusing to marry.
These perpetrators chose to attack their victims to ensure if they can’t have them, nobody can. Anyone who throws acid in someone’s face plans on scarring them for life. Sulfuric acid burns the skin, eyes and mucous membranes. Sometimes, it even exposes and dissolves bones.
If the women survive these extreme acts of domestic violence (many do not), it still takes years for a victim to recover from both the physical and psychological trauma.
With this series of portraits, Morenatti hopes to shed some light on these horrendous crimes, as well as to allow survivors to inspire a global revolution.
Around 1,500 cases are recorded around the world every year, with about 250-300 reported in Pakistan, according to the Acid Survivors Trust International (ASTI).
“That is likely to be massively underreported,” says Jaf Shah, ASTI executive director. “Most victims are fearful to report it to the police for fear of reprisal.”
Even where there are strict laws in place, convictions are hardly brought down in male-dominated societies like Pakistan.
See more of Morenatti’s photos here.
Photos: Emilio Morenatti for the Associated Press