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PM Nawaz vows to eradicate honour killings after Oscar nod

January 15, 2016

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In this file photograph taken on March 10, 2012, Oscar-winning Pakistani director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy poses for a photograph with the award during a press conference in Karachi.—AFP
In this file photograph taken on March 10, 2012, Oscar-winning Pakistani director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy poses for a photograph with the award during a press conference in Karachi.—AFP

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif vowed Pakistan would eradicate “evil” honour killings as he congratulated director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy on her Oscar nomination for a harrowing documentary on the practice.

“A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness,” which follows the story of a rare survivor, was nominated in the documentary short category of the Academy Awards on Thursday.

Hundreds of women are reportedly murdered by their relatives in Pakistan each year on the grounds of defending family “honour”.

Their male murderers are often “pardoned” by relatives under the country's controversial Islamic blood money laws that allow murderers to escape punishment.

A statement from the Prime Minister's Office late Thursday offered Chinoy, who made history in 2012 when she won Pakistan's first Oscar for another documentary, Nawaz's congratulations.

“Honour killings, the theme of the film, afflict several segments of Pakistani society,” it quoted the premier as saying.

He expressed the government's commitment "to rid Pakistan of this evil by bringing in appropriate legislation”, the statement continued, adding that Chinoy's “insights” could prove helpful.

Chinoy said on Twitter she was “delighted” that the prime minister had made the commitment.

“Next step is to push all the politicians to call a joint session & get the anti honour crime bill passed that has lapsed in parliament!” she said in a tweet.

Chinoy was feted across Pakistan in 2012 when she won the country's first Oscar for “Saving Face”, a 40-minute documentary that exposed the horrors endured by women who survive devastating acid attacks.

It focuses 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.

Acid attacks, which disfigure and often blind their overwhelmingly female victims, have long been used to settle personal or family scores in Pakistan, with hundreds of cases reported each year.

The attacks along with honour killings depict the state of women's rights in Pakistan, where they are frequently treated as second-class citizens with no legislation to fall back on in cases of domestic violence.