March 9, 2016

International Women's Day

Yesterday, International Women's Day, I sat with how female bodies are claimed, controlled, and brutalized by those intent on subjecting them to servitude.

'A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness' produced and directed by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy speaks to the matrix of society, violence against women, forgiveness, and the absence of female agency. It points our attention toward the terror of surviving a murder attempt and the struggle of continuing to survive in one's community after that trauma.

This 2016 Oscar winner for Best Documentary Short tells the extraordinary story of a young Pakistani woman who narrowly escaped an "honor" killing by her father and uncle. Told through the lens of a true love story, the film is a scathing examination of the contradictions and gaslighting that is part of everyday life for women in Pakistani society.

Forgiveness as a tool of reconciliation and social cohesion, functions to isolate the survivor from her mate, family, and the broader community if she does not acquiesce. Under Pakistani law, the female victim's forgiveness relieves her assailant of all criminal wrongdoing and punishment. Imagine this added trauma to an experience of terror. Imagine.

'Saving Face,' another short by Obaid-Chinoy, brings into focus the horrific act of dousing women with acid, permanently disfiguring and killing some.

We need to do better. Humanity, we need to do better.

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