He felt justified trying to kill his own daughter

Congratulations to Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy:

The first Oscar-winner in Pakistan’s history is back in the Hollywood limelight this weekend as Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy’s unflinching new documentary about “honor killings,” A Girl In The River: The Price Of Forgiveness, competes for an Academy Award.

The 37-year-old Chinoy’s previous film about acid-attack victims, Saving Face, won the top prize for a documentary short in 2012.

(UPDATE: Chinoy Won The Oscar. More Here.)

Bashir Ahmad Gwakh interviewed her via email.

RFE/RL: What does your documentary find? Tell us about the status of women going through domestic violence and families whose loved one was killed in ‘honor killings’?

Chinoy: The film really brings to reality the kind of patriarchal and conservative mindset that women are up against. I went to speak to Saba’s father after he was arrested and he had so much hatred in him. He was still adamant that Saba was in the wrong and he felt justified trying to kill his own daughter. He felt it was his duty as a father and husband to protect his family from the “dishonor” that Saba brought upon them by falling in love and getting married. The interaction that I had with him spoke volumes about the kinds of choices we women have in the world and how our lives are impacted by the decisions taken by others.

The very fact that women are currently unable to make their own policy decisions in certain parts of the country is an alarming reality, and pushes us further away from being the owners of our own stories and fighters for our own rights.

Ever year, hundreds of women are killed in the name of honor; and although honor killings are prevalent in Pakistan, they are considered a taboo subject by many. There is a perception that somehow these murders fall under the purview of the family and that they shouldn’t be questioned or challenged. To me, they have always been premeditated, cold-blooded murders justified under the guise of culture or religion.

Families don’t get to murder family members. Not cool. Family isn’t a permission slip to murder all the uppity females.

RFE/RL: How do you feel about your documentary being nominated for an Academy Award? What’s your next project?

Chinoy: I am proud to be representing Pakistan on such a prestigious platform — that [it is also] for the second time. I am grateful that the SOC Films production was able to share the untold story of A Girl In The River: The Price Of Forgiveness with a global audience. Since the start of my career, I have always endeavored to share the stories of those who cannot do so themselves. To be acknowledged for this work is always very humbling, and on such a giant platform like the Oscars makes it surreal.

But for me personally, it will be an even bigger win if we, as a nation, take this opportunity to acknowledge that we have a problem and pass the Anti-Honor Killings Laws (Criminal Laws Amendment) Bill 2014. It is time we change the law and stand up for the victims of this heinous crime.

(Editor’s note: The bill was passed by the provincial legislature on February 25.)

Congratulations x a million.

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