Masarrat established the Smile Again Organisation
In a society that often marginalises acid attack survivors, Pakistan is witnessing a heartwarming shift as brave individuals are not only overcoming their traumatic pasts but also flourishing in unexpected professions.
A growing number of acid attack victims are finding empowerment, solace and financial independence by working in Pakistani salons.
Pakistani salons are increasingly becoming safe spaces for acid attack survivors, where they can regain a sense of normalcy and self-worth.
The beauty industry, which often places a premium on individuality and diversity, is providing an inclusive environment that fosters healing and growth.
Depilex is a well-known salon chain in Pakistan and it has been recognised for its commitment to social causes and initiatives aimed at empowering women.
Depilex Beauty Clinic and Institute, founded by Masarrat Misbah, has been actively involved in social work, including providing support to acid attack survivors.
Masarrat Misbah herself has been a prominent advocate for the rights and rehabilitation of acid attack victims in Pakistan.
A veteran of Pakistan’s beauty industry, Masarrat launched the first Depilex salon in 1980.
Today, it is a conglomerate that runs a chain of salons across the country and employs many acid attack survivors affiliated with the Smile Again Foundation.
Masarrat takes immense pride in giving a new life to these women and once explained in an interview what made her take the victims under her wing.
“A few years ago, a young girl clad in a burka entered my salon and asked for help. I thought she was a beggar so I told her to leave.
“But she stayed. Then she revealed her almost completely burnt fact to me and said, ‘You are a beautician right? Can you fix my face?'”
After she saw her face, Masarrat established the Smile Again Organisation which helps treat acid attack survivors in 33 Pakistani cities and provides 50 free cosmetic surgeries annually to people who are unable to afford it.
Acid attacks are a tragic and heinous crime that leaves victims physically and emotionally scarred.
While these attacks occur worldwide, Pakistan has unfortunately gained notoriety for a higher incidence rate.
The consequences of such assaults extend far beyond the physical pain, affecting the mental well-being of survivors and self-esteem which often leads to social isolation.
Despite the immense challenges they face, many acid attack survivors are rewriting their stories by entering the workforce, specifically in the beauty industry.
The beauty sector, traditionally associated with notions of transformation and self-care has become an unexpected sanctuary for these survivors.
Several non-profit organisations and beauty schools in Pakistan have recognised the potential of acid attack survivors and are offering personalised training programmes to equip them with the skills needed to thrive in the profession.
The programmes cover a range of beauty services, from hairstyling and makeup application to skincare and spa treatments.
Securing employment in the salon industry not only provides these survivors with a sense of purpose but also contributes to their financial independence.
Gaining economic stability is crucial for rebuilding lives and breaking free from the cycle of dependency.
The stories of acid attack survivors thriving in Pakistani salons are inspiring others to challenge societal norms and stereotypes.
By sharing their experiences, these individuals are not only bringing attention to the issue of acid attacks but also encouraging a more compassionate and inclusive society.
The journey from victim to survivor is an arduous one, but the resilience demonstrated by the survivors in Pakistani salons is a testament to the strength of the human spirit.
As these individuals reclaim their lives and redefine societal expectations, they are not only finding healing for themselves but are also contributing to a more compassionate and accepting society.