‘A Girl In The River’ Documentary Calls Attention to Honor Killings & Women Oppression

A 19-year old Pakastanian woman stars in an Oscar-nominated documentary about her survival story. Saba Qaiser fell in love with her boyfriend and ran away to get married against her family’s wishes. Hours after they married, her uncle and father swayed her away, beat her, and attempted to kill her. They put her body in a sack and sent it down the river after her own father shot her in the head, thinking he killed her. However, Saba was just unconscious because the bullet went into her face so she was able to be revived, crawl to land, and call for help. Today, her story has gained a great deal of popularity as it has become very impactful on people and incites curiosity and concerns about women oppression all over the world.

‘Honor killings’ are committed with the intent to save a family name and honor. Sadly, it is widespread among foreign cultures, especially Muslim countries, because there are laws that permit or forgive a killing. To be precise, it is so common that they occur about every 90 minutes. Against the odds, her father and uncle were arrested but pressures of cultural traditions won over Saba so she forgave them and they were able to be released from prison.

I am open-minded to the fact that there are a variety of cultures, traditions, and social norms that are completely different from the American way of living, or even my familial experience. But I am absolutely taken back by how Pakistani law condones these murders on women or men, under man’s value of honor. In any country, I feel that one universal role of the government should be to protect their home and people, and gender should not be a contingent factor either. Unfortunately, women oppression exists even in the most democratic of nations; the United States government stepped in to reshape Afghanistan and Pakistan by investing in resources they found they would benefit from but weren’t nearly as invested as needed in the areas of women’s rights and equality. Stories like Saba’s reflect a tremendous form of courage to raise a red flag about the issue. I’m glad she was able to share this with the world and I hope the impression that is left influences their legal system to make a change.

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