Pakistani film exposing “honour” murder of women is up for an Oscar


A Pakistani film about “honour killing” has been nominated for an Oscar in the short documentary film category at the forthcoming Academy Awards in Hollywood on 28 February.

The film is called ‘A Girl in the River: the Price of Forgiveness’, based on the horrendous experience of a young girl who eloped with her lover only to be savagely punished by her own father and uncle under the so-called “Honour Code”, supposedly an Islamic principle which subjugates women to men. Her own father and uncle shot 18-year-old Saba Qaiser in the face, tied her up in a bag and threw her into a river to drown.

Somehow she survived to tell her tale to Pakistani film-maker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, already an Oscar winner for a documentary about another appalling abuse of women prevalent in her homeland – attacking girls with acid who refuse to accept arranged marriages or otherwise conform to their families’ wishes.

The 88th Academy Awards will take place on Sunday 28 February. / Source: The Oscars

The Oscar nomination has once again highlighted the plight of women in Pakistan . The Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has summoned his Cabinet to a private screening of the film in the hope it might drive forward legal changes to outlaw such practices, a Sharif aide told the Wall Street.

The abuse of women’s rights, especially as applied to young girls in Pakistan, was brought to the world’s attention most movingly by Malala Yousafzai, the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize winner at 17 in 2014, shot and left for dead by the Taliban on her way home from school in a school bus. Malala has become a fully-fledged human rights activist, based in Britain now, and an inspiring icon for her defence of women’s education rights.

Everyday 3 women are murdered in Pakistan by “dishonoured” male relatives. And women in South Asia keep crying for help and, occasionally, they see this shout making a real difference. Obaid-Chinoy’s documentary Saving Face about women disfigured in acid attacks by heartbroken lovers, didn’t only win an Oscar in 2012 but also motivated the authorities in Pakistan to take acid-throwing cases to anti-terrorism courts to secure convictions.

Campaigners for women’s right will hope that the Academy judges, already under pressure for not selecting enough black actors and actresses for consideration at this year’s  glittering awards ceremony,  see fit to back this moving testimony and give an Oscar to Obaid-Chinoy?




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