ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif vowed Monday to act against the “despicable” practice known as honor killing after viewing an Oscar-nominated documentary about the issue.
“A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness,” by Pakistani filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, was screened at the premier’s office. The 2015 film is about a girl who was shot and thrown in a river by her father after marrying a boy of her choice. The girl survived, but was pressured to forgive her attackers.
The killing of women — often by their own family members — over alleged sexual indiscretions is common in conservative parts of the Muslim world, where men and women are segregated outside the home and arranged marriage is the norm.
A government statement released after the screening said Sharif vowed to address the issue of honor killings, which he said had nothing to do with religion, and “build a progressive Pakistan by giving equal and respectable status to women.”
After meeting with the premier, Obaid-Chinoy called for stronger legislation against honor killings and acid attacks.
Some 1,000 women are killed each year in honor killings, according to estimates used by many women’s rights groups in Pakistan. The killers are rarely prosecuted, because Pakistani law allows relatives of the victim to forgive the killer, a provision based in Islamic law.
Zohra Yosuf, of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, said Sharif’s promises were so far “just words” and that action was needed.
“The killers within the family should not be given the advantage of paying blood-money after the gruesome offence,” she said.
This story has been corrected to show that the screening was in the prime minister’s office, not his residence.
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