Award shows and sporting events have rapidly transformed into places for those in the entertainment industry to bring a spotlight to social and global issues that they feel are necessary to be highlighted.
Super Bowl Sunday went from “innocent family fun” to a tribute to the black struggle and support of black power that started an actual shit storm in the media world because people felt their “whiteness” was being threatened. To those people I say – “your privilege is showing.”
Last night’s 88th Oscar Awards was no exception. Leo, of course, used his acceptance platform to bring your attention towards global warming and the fact that we are destroying our planet. Unfortunately most people were probably too busy crying about him FINALLY winning an Oscar – it’s about damn time, Academy – that they failed to fully pay attention to his message.
However one Oscar winner stands out among the rest as she proved how one person, and how social awareness can bring true, necessary change to an entire people. Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, who won her first Oscar back in 2012 for Saving Face, took home a second award for Pakistan for her documentary – A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness. The short documentary, which sheds light on Pakistan’s “honor killlings” – also known as “shame killings” – follows the rare story of a young Pakistani girl who survived an attempted honor killing, who falls in love and lives to tell about it.
For those unfamiliar with what honor killings are, it is the murder of a family member done by other family members based on the belief that victim brought shame or dishonor to the family name. Other “reasons” for honor killings include the violation of a religious or communal policy – i.e. refusing to enter into an arranged marriage, having sexual relations outside of marriage, being in a relationship one’s family doesn’t approve of, being a victim of rape, renouncing one’s faith, taking part in a homosexual relationship – you get it. Most important to recognize – honor killings are always done by male family members, with a female member always being the victim.
Human Rights Watch defines honor killings as the following:
“Honor killings are acts of vengeance, usually death, committed by male family members against female family members, who are held to have brought dishonor upon the family. A woman can be targeted by (individuals within) her family for a variety of reasons, including: refusing to enter into an arranged marriage, being the victim of a sexual assault, seeking a divorce—even from an abusive husband—or (allegedly) committing adultery. The mere perception that a woman has behaved in a way that “dishonors” her family is sufficient to trigger an attack on her life.”
As Obaid-Chinoy was just wrapping up her acceptance speech, she added the most powerful, encouraging words for filmmakers, artists, activists, humans, that I’ve ever heard. “This is what happens when determined women get together,” she preached. And just as the music began to play, she proved the power that artists and activists of all kinds have with this statement, “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.”
“This is what happens when determined women get together.” – Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
We have the power to bring important change.
To view the trailer of A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness, see below.