The Documentary Short Oscar Winner Brought An Unexpected But Incredibly Important Point To This Year's Ceremony

The 88th Annual Academy Awards have brought a lot of important issues to light — ones surrounding racism and sexism, for instance — but an unexpected though equally important issue was brought to light during the Best Documentary Short award announcement. A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy brought up the importance of shedding light on the issue of honor killings in the Middle East, and claimed that her short — which followed the story of an 18-year-old woman who survived after she was targeted for eloping with her boyfriend — had inspired the prime minister of Pakistan, Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, to say that he would change the law on honor killings in the country. It's a huge step in the right direction, and an important issue that deserves as much light shed on it as possible.

It was Obaid-Chinoy's second Oscar win ever, and entirely deserved — the issue of honor killings in the Middle East (that is, when a woman is targeted by male family members for supposedly "bringing dishonor" upon their family — often for something as simple as dating someone) is one that deserves much more attention than it gets. According to USA Today, "around 500 people, mostly women and girls, died in honor killings last year, usually for alleged infidelity and refusing to submit to arranged marriages, according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan." The newspaper adds:

Women's rights activists say the actual number of victims in orthodox Muslim communities is far higher than officially reported, especially in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

This is unacceptable.

"... to my friend Ziad who brought this film to the government, to all the brave men out there like my father and my brother, who push women to go to school and work, and who want a more just society for women," Obaid-Chinoy thanked in her speech. "Last week... the Pakistani prime minister has said that he will change the law on honor killing after watching this film."

It's a big win, particularly for the cause to stop honor killings in the Middle East. The issue was an important one to note, and I'm glad that the Oscars brought attention to it during the show.