Through the telling of stories, young children are taught the difference between good and evil. The narrative compass draws a circle outside of which all wrongdoing falls. An absence of such teachings enables cognisance of honour in an act otherwise deemed dishonorable. Documented stories which deconstruct the notion of honour in killing have the potential to fill this moral void and hence enable a tangible change in perception. Despite the issue of honour killings in Pakistan garnering international attention, our nation has failed to bring much change to the situation. On 6 October, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy was once again accredited as Pakistan’s voice against the plague of honour killings. This was when her ‘A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness’ won ‘Best Documentary’ at the 38th Annual News and Documentary Emmy Awards. The documentary’s victory at last year’s Oscar Awards had created a firm line of divide between applauders and criticisers across the nation; twitter was war torn after the win. But the second award has been followed by calm. Has the novelty of Western validation worn out or is honour killing no longer prevalent since the day Chinoy stood on stage and claimed, ‘This is what happens when determined women get together’? Chinoy identifies herself and her documentary as an instrument for reforming ideologies. In an interview given to a Pakistani newspaper and published on the 8 March 2016, Chinoy explained, ‘As a filmmaker, that’s the biggest reward — to see the tremendous change you can bring about in your country. The biggest challenge I had in making this documentary was countering the mindset of the people in Pakistani society who think it’s acceptable to kill someone in the name of honour.’ Chinoy believed she had brought change and others believed her. Many individuals recited her epic to me with utmost conviction. The filmmaker was Achilles and the film her shield. It was said change had come without questioning where and how. But cases of honour killings did not cease. Tell not the sinner his sin. Hold up a mirror so he can be shocked by his own blood covered hands and the cold body at his feet Last month two cases of honour killings were reported in the mainstream media alone. On 20 September a father in Peshawar put his two daughters to death in the name of honour. He thought they had boyfriends. Almost a week earlier, on 12 September, a teenage couple was electrocuted by their families in the name of honour. The 15-year-old girl and seventeen year old boy had allegedly attempted to elope. Despite the film’s two awards, international fame and claims of change, honour crimes in Pakistan are still on the rise. ‘A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness’ was initially released in 2015. According to the Human Rights Commission Pakistan 1012 cases of honour crimes were reported during 2015. The subsequent year this number rose to 1169 despite more stringent legislation. The new legislation was also accredited to Chinoy’s documentary. ‘A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness’ narrates the true story of Saba Qazi who was shot, stuffed in a bag, and thrown into a river. Saba Qazi was killed for loving and marrying a man her family did not approve of. Saba Qazi was killed by her father in the name of honour. However, she survived. And upon her survival she was compelled by her family, her in-laws and her neighbours to pardon her murderer. Last year a statement came from the Prime Minister’s Office, congratulating Chinoy and expressing Nawaz Sharif’s commitment ‘to rid Pakistan of this evil (of honour killing) by bringing in appropriate legislation.’ Accordingly, on 6 October 2016, Pakistan’s Parliament unanimously approved the anti-honour killing bill which prevents individuals killing in the name of honour from being pardoned by another family member. In an interview to a British newspaper, published on the 14 February 2016, Chinoy claimed: ‘The thing about ‘honour’ crimes is that there are people who don’t think that it is a crime because people don’t go to jail for it. The minute people start going to jail, it will act as a deterrent.’ Is this truly the case? Murder is one of, if not the oldest crimes in history. Murders have occurred in all socio-cultural contexts. Murderers have been punished from time immemorial. But that has never stopped more murders from occurring. Thus, while legislation is a means of attaining justice it is not a solution to the cause. Stories can shift morals in ways punishment cannot. Saba’s story could have brought change if only it was told to the relevant people and in the required manner. The crème de la crème of society for whom the film is exclusively screened or those who have sufficient monetary wealth to access HBO or the documentary online tend not to regard honour in such a manner that they will kill for it. Moreover, even as the film ends Saba’s father feels empowered. He proudly states his other daughters are getting good proposals because he made the decision to kill in the name of honour. Till Saba’s father can see and understand the horror of his actions, Saba will remain in the river. Honour is a complex notion and Chinoy’s documentary failed to deconstruct it. Chinoy failed to explore the female body as honour’s abode and hence failed to extract honour from it. The facts of the tale should not be distorted but the issue can be explored in ways that engender change. Tell not the sinner his sin. Hold up a mirror so he can be shocked by his own blood covered hands and a cold body at his feet. The writer has a master’s in media with a distinction from the London School of Economics. She tweets @mawish_m Published in Daily Times, October 16th 2017.