2016: The Most Globally Conscious Oscars?
This year’s Oscars Academy Awards may have been the most globally conscious one yet. With Leonardo DiCaprio advocating for the environment and prevention of global warming, to Chris Rock bringing the inequitable treatment of Black Americans to light. Even Vice President Joe Biden attended and spoke about sexual assault and the pressing need to end such tragedy as he introduced Lady Gaga where, during her performance of “Til it Happens to You,” sexual assault survivors stood beside her as she sang, piercingly showing the reality of such injustices. The Oscars got very real. Indeed.
But perhaps the most sobering event of the night was when Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy accepted her Oscar for her film A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness as the Best Documentary Short. Obaid-Chinoy stated in her acceptance speech that “This week [meaning the last week in February] the Pakistani prime minister has said that he will change the law on honour killing after watching this film. That is the power of film” (News Desk, 2016).
And perhaps, she is right. That may be the power of film, of all media. Because before being introduced to WomanStats, the conversations about honor killings—not just in Pakistan but also all over the world—were minimal, if not nonexistent amongst my fellow students, family members, and my entire upbringing. But after her nomination, change felt most vivacious amongst my peers whose sudden interest in tackling honor killings spiked.
Yet, if you consider this: Pakistani Senator Israrullah Zehri, recently guarded the murder of women because honor killings are “a part of our culture…[they are] centuries-old traditions, and I will continue to defend them” (Naqvi & Syed, 2015). How might changing the practice of honor killings occur when within governments, disagreement for their purpose happens?
If in fact Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan’s Prime Minister, does change the law on honor killings, how might that change be practiced? The most recent status of Pakistan’s law on honor killings was when Pakistan’s Senate passed the Anti-Honour Killings Laws (Criminal Laws Amendment) Bill in 2014. “The previous defence rested on ‘provocation’ — that it was excusable for a person to fly into uncontrollable rage and kill someone. This was justified as an acceptable defence. Now there is a minimum sentence that must be followed, irrespective of what the defence is” (Naqvi & Syed, 2015). The changes the Prime Minister might have with the law may clarify what these acceptable defenses are and what the minimal sentence is.
Just as Obaid-Chinoy sharply and succinctly expressed that “This is what happens when determined women get together,” I would like to add that more can happen when determined women and determined men get together. With the hope that the Prime Minister can enact change amongst their government and their culture, so do I hope that women and men tenaciously try to change the way people think about “normal” aspects of their own society. How might this occur? The media can be and is a phenomenal tool to correct the misinformed ills of all cultures and bridge gaps for fair, equal living. Because when passionate people—women, men, filmmakers, coders, electricians, students, teenagers, and all else—speak, ordinary hopes for fairness can become extraordinary realities.
Ali, Z. (2012). Girl killed in Pakistani-administered Kashmir acid attack. BBC Urdu, Islamabad. 01 November 2012. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-20173484
Naqvi, R., Syed, M., (2015). Critical mass: Protecting women’s rights. Dawn. 01 June 2015. http://www.dawn.com/news/1184939
News Desk, (2016). Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s ‘powerful’ Oscar acceptance speech strikes a chord. 29 February 2016. Retrieved from http://tribune.com.pk/story/1056474/sharmeen-obaid-chinoy-delivers-the-most-powerful-speech-of-the-oscars/