Yesterday, during the 88th Academy Awards a.k.a as The Oscars, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy received an Oscar for ‘best documentary‘ for her film A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness.
This is Sharmeen’s 2nd well-deserved Oscar. She first won an Oscar in 2012 for her documentary Saving Face. That first Oscar made her the 2nd Pakistani to ever win an Oscar. The first one being, Mir Zafar Ali, who in 2007 became the first Pakistani to be connected with the team that won an Oscar for Best Visual Effects.
Sharmeen is known for her thought-provoking documentaries on uncomfortable subjects. Due to her roots, she is more vested in issues that highlight the plight of helpless victims in Pakistan.
Saving Face, her first Oscar win, was about acid attacks on women in Pakistan. In the documentary, she followed several victims of acid attacks as they fought for justice and highlighted one Pakistani plastic surgeon’s quest to restore the faces and identities of acid victims.
Keeping up that tradition, Sharmeen’s second Oscar win sheds light on the cultural plague that is rampant in Pakistan – honor killings.
In A Girl in the River, Sharmeen tells the story of an 18-year-old girl named Saba who falls in love with a boy. For Saba’s family, falling in love without the consent meant major defiance. Her father feels that Saba has ruined the family’s honor and the only way to redeem it would be to kill her. He shoots her in the head, but miraculously, she survives. On top of that, she demands justice by taking her family to court.
The first step in solving a problem or societal ill is to come to terms with it.
That’s what Sharmeen is doing.
She is making Pakistanis acknowledge flawed cultural norms. She is showing that there’s an actual human being that is being affected to the point of no return. She is showing that laws that fill up the books are no good if not enforced.
In Pakistan, lax law enforcement and legal loopholes make it easy to commit horrific crimes in daylight and get away with murder.
It is estimated that 1,000+ women in Pakistan are victims of honor killings. That’s 1,000 lives lost due to the tradition that is rooted in ignorance.
This is what happens when determined women get together. This week the Pakistani Prime Minister has said that he will change the law on honor killing after watching this film. That is the power of film.Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy (Oscar Win Speech)
We need more women like Sharmeen; to save more women like Saba.
Photo Credit: Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy Bio