What happens when a woman turns down a man’s proposal? As far as most of us know and romantic comedies go, it just really sucks for the man.
But in many parts of the world, where forced and arranged marriages are commonplace, saying “no” either isn’t an option or comes with horrific consequences.
The following Pakistani women were doused in acid for refusing to marry. The men who were supposed to love them for life disfigured them for life instead.
It was as if to say, “If I can’t have you, nobody else will.”
These images are part of a series by photographer Emilio Morenatti aimed at raising domestic violence awareness and giving long-silent victims a voice.
Morenatti hopes not only to highlight these monstrous crimes, but also to turn survivors into heroes who inspire global change.
Irum Saeed, 30
Irum was burned on her face, back and shoulders when she was 18 years old. A boy she rejected for marriage thew acid on her in the middle of the street. She’s had 25 corrective surgeries since.
Shahnaz Bibi, 35
Ten years ago, 35-year-old Shahnaz Bibi was doused in acid by a relative during a family dispute. She has never had plastic surgery.
Kanwal Kayum, 26
Kanwal was burned with acid by a boy whose marriage proposal she turned down. This photo was taken one year after the attack, and she hadn’t had any plastic surgery yet.
Saira Liaqat, 26
Saira holds a photograph of herself before being burned. Saira was married at 15, but was to live with her parents until she finished school. Her husband wasn’t so keen on the idea, and attacked her with acid as punishment for making him wait. Saira has had nine surgeries since.