Karachi, Pakistan – Pakistan has the highest rate of Breast Cancer in Asia, with over 90,000 cases of breast cancer reported every year, and 1 in 9 Pakistani women have become a breast cancer patient at some stage of her life. And devastatingly, almost half of these women die. 

A major reason for this high number is not just the lack of awareness but also the cultural taboo and stigma associated with the topic of women’s breasts in Pakistan – a mere discussion is considered immoral. Women hesitate to get their breasts checked or even check themselves on the grounds of modesty – and this becomes a major barrier in the early prevention of the disease.

In a bid to combat this stigma, locally-recognized fashion designer Ali Xeeshan and BBDO Pakistan have worked on a new campaign called ‘The Veil of Care’ where they have created a veil or locally known as a dupatta, historically known in South Asia to safeguard a woman’s modesty by covering her breasts. The veil will serve as an active reminder with instructions on how to check oneself, all while emphasizing that this action is not at the compromise of modesty, but well within its bounds. 

The dupatta is designed with traditional embroidered motif patterns that incorporate a ribbon, and also features poetry from pink warrior Asma Nabeel along its borders. ‘The Veil Of Care’ comes with a small booklet knotted into a corner, a traditional ritual in which women knot the corner of their dupattas to hide valuables in, that explains in English and Urdu the correct way to check your breasts. The veil is made available in stores and online, and all of the profits from the sales of these dupattas will go to breast cancer patients at the country’s top hospital, Shaukat Khanum Memorial.

“In South Asia, the dupatta is a symbol of modesty and to protect this modesty, women often hesitate to check themselves. So, I designed a new kind of veil that not only serves the purpose of guarding women’s modesty but also gives them a reminder that they should take care of their health too,” Xeeshan said.

To ensure that the campaign’s reach was national, the clothing brand GENERATION launched a further design rendition of the dupatta to make it more accessible to all women in Pakistan.

“As a womenswear brand, women’s health issues have always been very close to our heart. Although we have been conducting annual Breast Cancer Awareness campaigns for many years, this year we decided to take our commitment a step ahead. We’ve joined hands with Ali Xeeshan to bring you a one-of-a-kind dupatta for which we’ll be donating all profits to the Shaukat Khanum Hospital,” said Khadija Rahman, creative director at GENERATION.

Meanwhile, Ali Rez, regional ECD at Impact BBDO and BBDO Pakistan, commented, “This was an intensely personal project for the team. Our heartfelt gratitude to everybody who helped in making it happen, especially pink warrior Asma Nabeel who is currently battling the disease. It is our hope that this meaningful project spreads as much awareness as possible and saves lives.”