Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy made Pakistan proud a second time when she received the prestigious Academy Award for the Best Short Documentary category. Her film was a harrowing tale named, A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness, was about honour killings, told through the eyes of the victim that managed to escape the predicament. She used the stage to talk about feminism and social change, as well as the impact her film has had on the Pakistani stance on honor killing.

The work that was celebrated, and most individuals involved in creating them, are following their passion, exercising free speech, sharing ideas and expressing democratic ideals, which is never a bad thing. Amidst the darkness that is our social structure, where women are killed because they hurt male egos, and laws for gender equality are called into question by bearded men, such an expose provides a counter balance to a system too heavily tilted towards the exploitation of women. There is still much to be done to change our perceptions of the role of women in society as subordinate to men.

Chinoy is being criticised for portraying Pakistan “negatively” at an international stage, but such voices need to also to keep in mind that she is doing actually doing the country a favour by pointing out problems that need to be looked at immediately. Blindly looking to protect the national image especially when the country desperately needs introspection does not cater to Pakistan’s best interests. If anything, the laurels she has received are a symbol of success for the country, to have produced such an accomplished filmmaker. It projects the idea that women in Pakistan are strong enough to accomplish things even in the face of extenuating circumstances and prevail against all odds. The international community has honoured Chinoy, and the women in Pakistan who face the sickness of honour killings, and we can allow ourself to be proud of the award, and work to ensure that the message of ending honour killings in Pakistan is heard loud and clear.