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Life & Style

'In solidarity with victims of abuse': designer Maheen Khan says will return her Lux Style Awards

  • Her move follows that of filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy who also returned her 'Lifetime Achievement' award
Published November 28, 2022
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Controversy continued to shroud Pakistan's Lux Style Awards (LSAs) as veteran designer Maheen Khan said she will return her trophies in "solidarity with those who continue to suffer the infringement of their basic human right to live free from violence".

In an Instagram post on Sunday, the designer said she had "high hopes that Lux Style Awards would be not just a champion of style but a platform that nurtured justice".

Winners of the 21st Lux Style Awards

Her statement was in reference to actor Feroze Khan's nomination and his subsequent win for Best Actor (Viewer’s Choice). The actor has been accused of domestic violence by his ex-wife Aliza Sultan. Feroze has denied the accusations.

"Physical abuse against women and girls is a human rights violation," said Maheen. "Today it is someone's daughter, tomorrow it might be yours. While so many of us have raised our voices against the deaths of Zainab, Noor and others, the disregard and insensitivity of a recent award show is a travesty."

"In all consciousness I can no longer associate myself with an event that disregards their plight."

The 21st edition of the LSAs were held in Lahore on Friday. When nominations were announced, filmmaker and director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy also took to Instagram to renounce her Lifetime Achievement Award she received in 2012.

"Lux is a beauty brand that sells soaps to women yet it has chosen to allow the nomination of a man known to have violently abused his ex-wife. Its parent company, Unilever, has a global campaign that says no to domestic violence and advocates against it. The company signed up to the United Nation’s SDGs, including SDG 5 on gender equality,” she wrote, noting that Unilever’s offices in Pakistan do not seem to share the same values.

In response, LSA issued a statement clarifying its position.

"The LSA believes in respecting the freedom and diversity of audience views, and does not regulate or limit engagement (except in cases of content with obscene or inappropriate language) on our social media platforms."

At the Lux Style Awards on Friday, Feroze won the viewer's choice award for Best TV Actor for 'Khuda Aur Mohabbat', which again led to angry backlash against the LSA and Lux's parent company Unilever.

This prompted Unilever to issue another statement: "Submissions are received from artists and channels as part of an open call for entries for consideration in the awards. All shortlisted nominations, for the Viewer's Choice Category of the LSA 2022 are a result of exclusive viewer voting without any intervention by the Awards. As part of our third party, independent and transparent voting process, which is audited end to end by PricewaterhouseCoopers, LSA cannot participate in short-listing, vetting, or excluding any submissions or nominations."

Following his win, Feroze praised Lux and Unilever on Instagram stating how “Lux and Unilever have played real gangsters by how they understood the sensitivity of the matter”.

Back when the accusations surfaced, Iqra Aziz, Feroze's co-star in the show 'Khuda Aur Mohabbat', withdrew from an upcoming project with the actor in support for victims of domestic abuse.

In October, photos of Sultan with bruises began circulating on social media along with her emergency room and MLO reports. Feroze denied the allegations, and called them “baseless, malicious and untruthful”.

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