Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s Oscar-Winning Documentary Sparks Change in Pakistan

At this year’s Academy Awards, a film about honor killings in Pakistan won an Oscar for best short documentary.

An honor killing or “shame killing” is a murder of a member of a family by other members, most commonly against women who refuse to enter arranged marriages or choose their own spouse against their family’s wishes.

With as many as 1,000 women dying from honor killings a year in Pakistan alone, it’s no surprise the film’s recognition over this past weekend is specifically meaningful to many.

“Female supporters of a Pakistani Islamic organization protest in Lahore against honor killings ”  Image Credit:

The emotionally moving documentary was produced and directed by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, who became the first Pakistani to win an Academy Award back in 2012 for her film “Saving Face”.

Ms. Obaid-Chinoy’s recent film “A Girl in the River” is a story about Saba Qaiser, a women whose father and uncle shot her in the face and threw her in a river, after she ran away to marry the man she loved. Fortunately, Ms. Qaiser miraculously survived to tell her story.

Since 2004, attacks on women over honor have been considered regular murder. But many times attackers go unpunished because they are forgiven by the victim and her family members under an Islamic provision in Pakistani law.

“Last week, our Pakistani Prime Minister has said that he will change the law of honor killing after watching this film. That is the power of film,”

…said Ms. Obaid-Chinoy in her acceptance speech.

Although it will be difficult to pass a new bill against the Islamic provision in Pakistan’s religiously conservative society, hopefully the new support from Pakistani religious leaders brought from this film will bring enough momentum to make the change.

Read more here from BBC.


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