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Fury after actor Feroze Khan accused of abusing ex-wife is nominated in Lux Style Awards

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Pakistani actor Feroze Khan’s nomination for the Lux Style Awards, barely a month after his ex-wife accused him of physical abuse, is proving to be divisive. The criticism has been fierce, and the backlash immediate. He’s been nominated in the Best TV Actor – Viewer’s Choice category.

Oscar-winning Pakistani-Canadian director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy immediately announced that she was returning her Lux Lifetime Achievement Award, which was presented to her in 2012. Other celebrities and citizens, too, have criticised Khan’s nomination. 

Chinoy said it was ironic that Lux, which is a beauty brand that caters to women, has performed such ‘a disservice’. “The company has signed up to the United Nations SDG 5: Gender Equality. Its offices in Pakistan, however, do not appear to share the same values,” she added.

“… The brand and I no longer share the same values. As a society, we must stand together against domestic violence and call out those who provide platforms to abusers,” said Obaid Chinoy on Instagram. She was one among a number of people who took to Instagram to criticise the nomination. 

Pakistani entrepreneur, activist, and talk show host Kanwal Ahmed shared a similar sentiment and highlighted the disparity between the standards global companies hold themselves to in the West and the absence of the same in Asian countries.

“Globally @Unilever is challenging domestic violence through their ‘challenges.’ In Pakistan however, they are silencing victims of domestic violence by honoring perpetrators in award shows,” she said on Twitter.

In a show of solidarity, Iqra Aziz–who is Feroze Khan’s co-star in the television drama Khuda Aur Mohabbat—has withdrawn from an upcoming project with him.

Also read: Pakistan’s political warfare slips into puddle of lies, sleazy videos

Lux Style Awards response

As the backlash intensified, the organisers released a statement Wednesday night, absolving themselves of all responsibility. 

“The Lux Style Awards 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,” read the statement.

It went on to say that the voting process is audited by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Lux cannot not participate in the “short-listing, vetting, or exclusion of any submissions or nominations.”

Also read: Pakistan bans 2023 Oscar contender, Joyland, which explores queer love

Global pattern

Awarding or nominating abusers is not a scenario unique to Pakistan, but is part of a global trend. In 2017, Casey Affleck won an Oscar, despite having multiple sexual harassment lawsuits against him. Widely respected Polish-French director Roman Polanski has received most awards in the book, from multiple Oscars to the Palme d’Or at Cannes, even as he remains a fugitive after being convicted of the rape a 13-year-old girl.

Closer to home, the return of film-director Sajid Khan – whose abuse allegations came into the fore during the #MeToo movement – to the mainstream entertainment space, has also been subject to uproar.

(Edited by Tarannum Khan)

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