Delving unflinchingly into a subject matter that previous filmmakers and narrators have avoided for fear of reprisal, a controversial new film, ‘Honour Killings’, finally sheds light on the barbaric issue of murder in the name of protecting family honour, which has seen an alarming rise in cases across UK and parts of the western world over recent years. Police estimate up to 12 people are murdered each year in UK in the name of honour, with a further 500 forced into marriage or attacked*. The actual number of cases is likely to be phenomenally higher, but the shroud of secrecy surrounding them means that cases never come to light.
Presented by Ek Onkar Films Ltd, ‘Honour Killings’ is a multicultural film primarily set in London, although the narrative also takes the story to parts of India and Pakistan. ‘Honour Killings’ is directed by maverick Indian filmmaker Avtar Bhogal, famed for a series of controversial women’s issue films exploring themes of sexual exploitation and violence in the 1990’s, manipulating traditional Bollywood conventions to the consternation of the Censor Board, critics and traditionalists alike, at the time. In ‘Honour Killings’ he brings together on screen an accomplished pool of British, Indian and Pakistani acting talent, including Bollywood film industry veteran Prem Chopra, Bollywood and mainstream crossover artist Gulshan Grover (‘Jungle Book 2’) and Pakistani acting legend Jawed Sheikh, all of whom were keen to demonstrate their unreserved support in highlighting the global issue of ‘honour’ killings to audiences around the world.
Honour crimes are acts of violence, usually murder, committed by male family members against female family members, who are perceived to have brought dishonour upon the family. A woman can be targeted by individuals within her family for a variety of reasons, including: refusing to enter into an arranged marriage; being the victim of a sexual assault; seeking a divorce, even from a violent or abusive husband; or allegedly committing adultery. The mere perception that a woman has behaved in a way that ‘dishonours’ her family is sufficient to trigger an attack on her life.
Comments Avtar Bhogal, “Research has shown that victims often feel government authorities have done little to help. Through the film, I would like to forward a humble request to our society to wake up and realize that we need to be involved rather than be safe on the grounds of cultural sensibilities. No doubt the issue of honour is important but does it justify the killing of a human being solely for the purpose of honour?”
‘Honour Killings’ is a film which will open debate, invoke reaction and hopefully coerce governments to take steps to prevent such depraved acts of violence and injustice from continuing to occur, not only overseas but domestically in UK.
A strong friendship exists between a Pakistani, Punjabi and Englishman, along of whom possess their individual, staunch belief systems. During regular but minor altercations between the Pakistani and Punjabi, it is the Englishman that pacifies and reunites both. However, when the Pakistani’s daughter and Punjabi’s son fall in love, a bitter enmity alienates the two friends and their families further. As reconciliation between the two factions becomes increasingly impossible, the Englishman advocates the young couple elope and marry. As a result, tragic consequences send shockwaves through the entire community and wider society.
‘Honour Killings’ releases in UK and worldwide later in 2010.