On the eve of the first Girl Summit in the UK, around 150 guests attended a film screening of ‘Honor Diaries’, an award-winning independent film about ‘honour’-based violence against women, hosted by The Henry Jackson Society.
The film features nine leading international women’s rights activists who are brought together to have a much-needed discussion about the concept of ‘honour’ and why it lies at the heart of violence against millions of women around the world.
The film screening was followed by a panel discussion moderated by The Henry Jackson Society Research Fellow Emily Dyer to assess widespread human rights violations against women in the form of honour violence, forced marriage and female genital mutilation. On the panel was Diana Nammi, Executive Director of Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKWRO) and Raheel Raza, international women’s rights activist who featured prominently in the film, both of whom provided their thoughts about the film and answered questions from the audience.
The film is centred on a series of discussions between 9 women turned activists, including Raza, who discuss the role of the woman in Islamic societies and how women in these societies have involuntarily had the burden of family “honour” bestowed on them. It details the various abuses women in these societies are subjected to should their male “guardian” deem any action and or behaviour of theirs to be dishonourable to the family and/or community. The film highlights how “honour”-based violence, murder and mutilation is not limited to women in Middle Eastern theocracies; but that women in the West are victims too, with research showing over 100,000 victims of FGM in the UK alone. In the film Nazie Eftekhari, founder and CEO of HealthEZ, stressed the importance of activism in order to end “systematic, institutionalised misogyny” against women in Muslim societies.
During the Q&A session, Raza and Nammi spoke of the dangers of cultural relativism, referencing lack of police action against ‘honour’ killings and the growing number of Sharia courts in Britain. Raza urged western governments to not permit room for Sharia Law and suggested that western governments are “worried that if they speak up, they are going to be called Islamophobes”. These sentiments were echoed by Emily Dyer who concluded the discussion by adding that “the question is no longer whether women deserve equal rights, but how exactly do we go about upholding these rights”.