The short documentary, ” The Girl in the River : The Price of Forgiveness ” produced by  Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy,  has generated a lot of controversy in Pakistan. It has been heavily criticized by many for defaming Pakistan and ruining the country’s reputation.  However, only by watching the documentary can one understand that it does not aim to tarnish the image of this country but rather aims to get a hard conversation going on a topic that is a taboo in our largely misogynist society.  Apart from its main theme, the documentary also subtlety imparts some very profound lessons to its viewers.

The meaning of family

A family isn’t one in which you were raised but rather the one in which you are loved and cared for . The protagonist of the story ,Saba, is tricked and nearly murdered  by her father and uncle for marrying someone against their wishes.   Her young husband, on the other hand ,is full of tenderness and care for her and gives her the courage to continue fighting for justice.

Stand for your rights

In  country that prides itself for being an Islamic republic, women from the improvised backgrounds are being denied their Islamic rights.  Tribalism and a skewed sense of “honor” reigns supreme in such areas, denying thousand of women the justice they deserve. Saba marriage to her long time fiancé was not contradictory to Islam but since it was against her uncle’s wishes, she was punished by her father who tried to take away her life. But she survives  and goes to court to see her father and uncle brought to justice. Women empowerment in the country can only be achieved if women themselves struggle for it.

The Mindset needs to Change

Our laws are unable to address the issue of honor killing and people charged with murder in the name of “honor”  are able to get away with it easily. In fact, the perpetrator actually sees his status increased in his community where women are viewed little more than property. With this mindset,simply implementing laws will not be effective, education and awareness is also needed.

We the people of Pakistan listen more to our emotions than to reason.  The issue of honor killing and women being denied their rights is real and prevalent. Rather than expand our energy criticizing people who highlight these issue, we can instead use it to overcome such issues.