Outlawed in Pakistan, a short film made by Pakistani-Canadian journalist Habiba Nosheen and German journalist Hilke Schellmann, has won an Emmy Award for it’s heart-wrenching story of a rape survivor, Kainat Soomro.
The story portrays the young Pakistani girl who was allegedly raped on her way back home from school by four men in a rural village in Sindh. The 45-minute film was one of the 15 short documentary films to be screened at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and was also aired on PBS Frontline.
According to PBS, the documentary addresses deep rooted issues in Pakistan’s society: “In Pakistan, women and girls who allege rape are often more strongly condemned than their alleged rapists. Some are even killed by their own families. For this unforgettable documentary, filmmakers Habiba Nosheen and Hilke Schellmann spent years tracing one alleged rape victim’s odyssey through Pakistan’s flawed justice system—as well as her alleged rapists’ quest to clear their names.”
Nosheen and Schellmann followed Kainat on her journey for justice in a deeply flawed and morally bankrupt justice system for four years.
“To be honest, we were also struck by a teenager who was that outspoken and determined. There’s something special about the way she’s been able to be so public about an issue that’s such a taboo in Pakistan, and that you don’t see often in Pakistan,” the dynamic duo told PBS.
Talking to Dawn.com, Associate Producer Muhamamd Ali Sheikh said, “When I first heard about this project I was really moved by this little girl’s story and I immediately wanted to get on board. It was a tough challenge and also a dangerous one. But it was important to tell this story.”
About winning the award he said that it’s a great honour for the whole team and is a recognition for the art-form which is rarely in the spotlight.
“Winning the Emmy was a surprise and for me it just reinforced my belief in why we must continue to tell stories from Pakistan,” he added.
Sheikh was approached by Nosheen and Schellmann in 2013 and he knew that he had to be a part of the film because Kainat’s story had to be told – and told well.
Talking about rape in a society that turns a blind eye to the offence not only made Kainat vulnerable to persecution but also her family; her brother was murdered, her father was repeatedly assaulted. The family was shunned from their home and forced to relocate to Karachi but they did not give up.
The gut-wrenching portrayal of Kainat’s story and struggle earned the documentary an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Informational Programming — Long Form & Outstanding Research, which also resulted in a win.
The team that worked on the documentary included a few Pakistani journalists, a couple of whom shared the news of their big Emmy win via Twitter and Instagram.
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