Pakistan’s double-Oscar winner Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy has hailed new legislation outlawing the crime of “honour killings” as a turning point in the long-battle on violence against women, as she sets her sights on conquering her country’s silver screen.
The filmmaker cast a spotlight on the issue with her documentary ´A Girl In The River: The Price of Forgiveness´ — which bagged an Academy Award earlier this year.
“It is very good in the case of honour killing we finally have a legislation that is stronger,” she says In October, Pakistan’s government passed legislation aimed at closing loopholes that allowed the perpetrators of such killings, often relatives of the victim, to walk free after they are pardoned by another member of their family.
Now a pardon can only save a killer from the death penalty, but not from life imprisonment.
Critics contend that loopholes in the new law remain. For instance, if a killer claims a motive other than ´honour´ to justify their act, the blood money pardon law may still apply.
There are around 1000 ´honour´ killings per year in Pakistan, but Chinoy remains hopeful the tide is shifting, especially in the wake of widespread revulsion over the murder of a social-media starlet by her brother.
“It is not going to end tomorrow, but at least the process has started to send the men into jail who kill under the pretext of honour,” she tells AFP ahead of the premiere of her her new animated film “3 Bahadur” part two (Three brave warriors), which follows three children superheroes.
If her pride is evident, it is unsurprising — Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif originally announced the bill following a screening in the capital of Chinoy’s Oscar-winning film. Many observers believe the weight of international pressure was a catalyst in the government’s decision to move a bill that was initially tabled three years ago.