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Oscar goes to Pakistan film on 'honor killings'

Update: February, 29/2016 - 12:55
Journalist and filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy accepts her award for Best Documentary Short Subject, 'A Girl in the River', on stage at the 88th Oscars, in Hollywood, California, on February 28, 2016. AFP Photo

A documentary about a Pakistani girl shot in the face by her own family won an Oscar on February 29, after helping persuade the government to fight so-called "honor killings".

A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness won the Academy Award for best documentary short at the star-studded ceremony in Hollywood.

The Oscar win was the second for director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, who recently met with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif amid the growing global spotlight on the film.

"This is what happens when determined women get together," she said as she accepted the golden statuette.

Chinoy in her speech praised "all the brave men out there, like my father and my husband, who push women to go to school and work and who want a more just society for women."

The film follows 19-year-old Saba, a survivor of an attempted honor killing who was beaten, shot and thrown into a river after she ran off to marry a man.

At the last moment, she tilted her head, meaning the bullet grazed her cheek instead of shattering her skull. In a rarity for such attacks, she not only survived but went to police.

But under a controversial part of Islamic law in force in Pakistan, men who kill female relatives escape punishment if they are "pardoned" by relatives through blood money.

After meeting Chinoy recently in Islamabad, Sharif in a statement vowed to "rid Pakistan of this evil by bringing in appropriate legislation".

"That is the power of film," Chinoy said at the Oscars.

She earlier said that a victory at the Oscars would build momentum for change.

"I think if the film were to win an Academy Award, then the issue of honor killing, which doesn't just affect women in Pakistan but affects women around the world, would really gain traction," she said.

Chinoy in 2012 won Pakistan's first Oscar for Saving Face, a 40-minute documentary on the horrors endured by women who suffer acid attacks.

It focused on two women, Zakia and Rukhsana, as they fight to rebuild their lives after being attacked by their husbands, and British Pakistani plastic surgeon Mohammad Jawad who tries to help repair their shattered faces. AFP


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