A Girl in the River is a 2016 HBO documentary.
10 out of 10 stars. Well done.
The subject of this film is honor killings in Pakistan which are condoned by the Pakistani government. Over a thousand women are murdered in Pakistan each year in the name of honor by male family members. If a Muslim man murders a female member of his family and claims it’s for “honor” the Pakistani government forgives the crime and sets him free. This precedent has been followed for centuries. Pakistani women and girls have no rights, none at all.
The specific case followed in this documentary is that of Saba, a 19 year old Pakistani girl who was shot in the head and dumped in the river near her home. Her father and uncle did this. Her parents had arranged for her to marry Qaiser, the son of their neighbors. But then after four years her uncle decided he’d rather she married his brother-in-law, an old man. Saba was already in love with Qaiser so she moved in with his family and they went ahead and got married. On the day they were married, her father and uncle showed up, swore on the Quran they wouldn’t hurt her, and demanded she go with them. They drove her into the woods, shot her in the head, put her body in a bag, and dumped her in the river. She managed to escape the bag, grab a branch leaning over the river, and pull herself out. Then she stumbled to a nearby gas station where they called the police who took her to the hospital. There she was stitched and put in a secure room guarded by policemen. That protection lasted until they caught her father and uncle, who showed absolutely no remorse and said they’d do the same thing to the other daughters in the family if they ever defied them.
For Saba, her ordeal has just begun. Her mother and sisters are spreading nasty rumors about her, calling her shameful. The elders of their town, all men, are forcing her to “forgive” them publicly and even though she doesn’t want to, her brother’s older brother, the head of her new family, says she must to keep the peace in the community. That’s how she’s betrayed a second time.
As the film ends we see Saba, her face forever scarred on the left side by the bullet that was supposed to kill her, covered in black, walking the streets of her village in shame. She’s the victim here, but her own family and that of her husband have forgiven the men who beat and almost killed her and she’s the bad guy.
10 out of 10 stars. Have you ever seen a Muslim community where women have rights? Me either.