In the long list of female directors to watch, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy is someone that you shouldn’t pass up on. She’s known for creating films that start conversation on women’s rights around the world. Her documentary A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness, which tackles Pakistan’s honor killings, even won her an Oscar for Best Documentary Short.
If you have time and enough emotional resolve, you should watch this film and see how cruel the men could be. In this case, Saba’s (the 19-year-old honor killing survivor) father and uncle, who beat and shot her after “dishonoring their family name.” Fortunately, the film inspired the Pakistani government to amend their laws and “ensure that the women have speedier justice.”
When we attended Sharmeen’s talk at the Gender Equality in Asia and the Pacific ADB HQ, we learned more about her feminist beliefs. Plus, how she’s fighting to change how society badly treats women. Here are some crucial points to think about.
On changing the laws on honor killing
“[Honor killing is] almost like a mindset that needs to be changed… We have to get people to realize that this is a crime. Violence against women [happens all the time] that it creates a perception that this is a normal thing.”
On fearlessly telling the truth
“These issues aren’t going to go away simply because we try to ignore them. In fact, they will get amplified. I think it’s so important, despite the dangers, to talk about those issues and to start meaningful discussions around them.”
On deep-seated misogyny
“When [men] think that they’re so superior and can get away things, it’s all social conditioning. I think it starts with the mother, to be honest, because they’re the ones who set the board. If I were to have a son, I would raise him to become a feminist. My daughters would be feminist too.”
When women should help each other
“Sometimes people feel dejected [and feel] that them being a woman is an obstacle. That there’s a glass ceiling they need to penetrate in some way. But that’s where women need to align with other women. If more and more women said no and spoke up, [especially against violence,] it will stop. They also play an active role in perpetuating violence against women [because they just let their husbands or brothers-in-law beat up another woman.]”
On the difference between bravery and cowardice among men
“The real heroes are the men who are willing to help and fight against violence like honor killings. Men who say that they [kill women] because of culture and religion is a cop out.”
Art by Lara Intong
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