Girl in the River

The Girl in the River is a true story

SabaHelp support the Avaaz global Girl in the River Campaign to change Pakistani Law and protect the lives of women and children from honour killings.

Have you heard of Avaaz? I hadn’t but it opened my eyes to how powerfully the internet can be used for the good. Read on…

A Girl in the River is a true story about a 19-year-old Pakistani girl called Saba who, aged 19, eloped and married the man she loved. She knew her actions were contrary to her family’s wishes and she was frightened about returning home but her father put his hand on the Koran and promised that he would not harm her. Saba believed him but her father, resolved to restore the family’s good name, betrayed her. He drove her to a riverbank, shot her, stuffed her body into a bag and dumped her in the river. Thankfully, when the shot was fired, Saba put her head back and so the bullet did not kill her but just knocked her unconscious. Saba did not drown but managed to get herself ashore and was rescued by strangers.

Saba’s extraordinary story of family betrayal has been made into a documentary which has been Oscar nominated. Now, in response to rising pressure, the Pakistani Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, has promised to put an end to honour killings and has even involved his own daughter as part of the reform process.

Avaaz logoAvaaz, was launched in 2007 with a simple mission. Namely to empower millions of people all over the world and from all walks of life to take action on pressing global, regional and national issues. These range from corruption and poverty to conflict and climate change. The medium of the internet enables Avaaz to reach a global audience and they work together with campaigners to bring to the fore pretty much any issue of general public concern.

Their mission in the case of A Girl in the River is to draw attention to the documentary and thereby lobby worldwide support to reform the “forgiveness” loop in Pakistani law. Although a law was passed in 2004 against honour killings, 70% of perpetrators of these murders walk free. Why? The law allows the perpetrator to walk free if another family member forgives the perpetrator. All too often, these so called crimes are not about honour. They are about controlling women and girls who are perceived to have brought shame upon their family. All in the name of religion or tradition.

The Pakistani Prime Minster has promised legal reforms that will remove the “forgiveness” loophole. However there will be huge internal resistance. So massive global media attention is needed to help the Pakistani Prime Minister deliver on his promises.

The campaign aims to have 1 million signatures before the Oscars on Sunday. This will ensure Saba’s story is in the global spotlight. The petition will then be delivered directly to the Pakistani Prime Minister to help him push for a strong law. Sign online and share with everyone.