A girl in the river
SHARMEEN Obaid-Chinoy's "A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness" has earned recognition and praise around the globe; also winning an Oscar for the best documentary (short subject) this Sunday. The acclaimed documentary sheds light on the gruesome practice of "Honor Killings" which are quite frequent in Pakistan. It is the ruthless murder of usually, a woman by her relatives, due to the unfounded belief that the woman had somehow brought 'shame' upon her family.
The documentary follows the story of a teenage girl, Saba,who miraculously survived being beaten, shot in the head and thrown into the river by her own father and uncle, after she made the choice of marrying a man against their wishes. A local police officer in support of Saba, was able to get the two assassins imprisoned for their heinous crimes. Saba was pressurized by fellow villagers to pardon the two perpetrators. As a result of a law promulgated in Pakistan, the men were able to escape punishment as they were "forgiven" by her. Under this controversial provision of Islamic law, men who kill their female relatives are able to avoid punishment if they are "pardoned" by the victim or her family following the payment of blood money. This law is often, if not always, misused and ends up saving perpetrators who have committed horrendous crimes.
The number of estimated honor killing cases reported in Pakistan approximate around one thousand per year, however, it is to be noted that most cases are kept under the wraps. Thus, the figures are not wholly accurate and the actual numbers are believed to be quite staggering. Females are mercilessly murdered by their male relatives if they are believed to have engaged in any act which could have possibly brought "dishonor" to the family, for instance: eloping - as in Saba's case. Unfortunately, most women who are victims of this barbarity are met with a different fate than that of Saba as most unfortunately do not survive. Had Saba not tilted her head, the bullet would have penetrated her skull, killing her instantly.