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Girl in the River: This Oscar-Winning Documentary Studies Honor Killing

Honor killings are a pervasive problem in Pakistan and around the world. These brutal attacks target women and girls who act in ways that their families deem unacceptable, and the violence is often ignored or even encouraged by the community. A powerful documentary tells the story of one brave woman who survived such an attack.“A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness” is an Oscar-winning film that explores the life of Saba Qaiser, a young Pakistani woman whose family attempted to murder her.

When she was just 19 years old, Saba fell in love with a man and married him without her father’s permission. Mere hours after they were wed, her father and uncle conspired to kidnap her. They beat her and shot her in the head before throwing her in a river, but she managed to survive and crawl to help. Her father and uncle were arrested but remained convinced that they had acted correctly.

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Although “A Girl in the River” focuses on Saba’s story, it is also the story of countless other women and girls. Pakistan has a significant problem with honor violence, which results in the deaths of more than 1,000 women every year. One contributing problem is that Pakistani law allows the victim or her surviving family to forgive the murderer. Since honor violence is typically carried out by the victim’s family, forgiveness is the normal course of action. Women can be brutally murdered for something as simple as looking at a boy, and their killers face no consequences.

Saba attempted to fight this trend and have her attackers prosecuted, but social pressure in their small town became too much, and her husband’s family urged her to forgive her attackers. Her father boasts that he is more respected than ever in their community.One of the best ways to fight honor killings in Pakistan is to remove this legal loophole and see to it that the perpetrators of honor violence are punished. Sign this petition to urge the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to continue fighting for an end to this barbaric practice.

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