A societal curse gets PM’s attention

NOMINATED for this year’s Academy Award, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy’s documentary ‘A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness’ – the theme of which revolves around one of the darkest and chronic aspects of our society, the so called honour killings – was screened at the Prime Minister’s Office on Monday. Speaking on the occasion, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif appreciated Sharmeen for contributing to the betterment of society by working on challenging themes.
It is unfortunate that about one thousand women are killed each year in Pakistan in the name of honour and most often men who kill their female relatives are not prosecuted. The same has been depicted by Sharmeen Chinoy in her documentary which follows the story of an eighteen year old girl who miraculously escapes brutal attack by her father and other relatives but was pressurized by the community elders to eventually forgive the perpetrators. In most cases, women never survive such attacks and virtually nobody is sent behind the bars on committing such heinous crimes. Honour killings is just one of the many ills and distortions of our society where traditionally the concept of vengeance as well as rising intolerance has contributed to many other problems including crumbling down of our social and moral values and promotion of extremism and terrorism. The Prime Minister has taken the right initiative to highlight the issue of honour killings at different levels while stressing the need for changing the societal mindset to address the issue. This is also imperative as Pakistan, being an Islamic state, with eastern traditions, has certain values which need to be protected; otherwise the society will totally disintegrate. We should pursue the course of modernization and innovation to bring in positive changes but not the westernisation as it will bring further deterioration. As Islam gives elevated status to women and provides for their protection, the government should continue its endeavours to free the women from social curses such as honour killings as these having nothing to do with Islamic beliefs. Necessary legislation should also be carried out which not only protect women from killings in the name of honour but also ensure that culprits of such despicable acts do not escape.

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