Land Gold Women, directed by Avantika Hari and based on the burning issue of honour killing in the United States and Canada, won encomiums at the Indian Panorama section of the ongoing IFFI.
Avantika said that she made her debut film as director after learning film-making in the famed London Film School. "It is a movie that deals with the issue of honour killing, a practice that has originated from tribal codes which continue to claim the lives of not only innocent females but also males the world over. When I chanced to read an article on the topic of honour killing in a newspaper, I was intrigued that this kind of a thing was actually a fact. When I started my research, I came across literature stating that such a practice still exists today because it is condoned by certain interpretations of religious texts, especially the Quran."
Avantika Hari, a Tamilian brought up in the Middle East, said the first time she came across honour killing was when studying in the UK. "When I was in Dubai, I had never heard of it. With the rise of a newfound awareness and fear of Islam, honour killing just seemed to be another issue that was part of its extremist tendencies," Avantika said in a disturbed manner.
Dwelling further on the issue, Avantika said that honour killing happen not just among Hindus in Bihar, Haryana and Rajasthan, among Sikhs in Punjab, and within their immigrant communities in England and Canada, but also among Christians in Jordan, Syria and Brazil, among Druze and Yehidis in Iraq and Kurdistan. "It is also rampant in progressive countries like UK and Canada," said a shell-shocked Avantika.
How did the concept of honour killing emanate? "The idea emanates from the concept that women in families should be protected from the clutches of men outside their clans. I came to know that in the Karokari system, both men and women are killed if they dare to rebel and marry outside their clans."
You wonder how often these cases are reported by the victims? Avantika said that on an average, a victim suffers 35 times before an FIR is registered by the cops, if at all. "The cops in Birmingham said it was a domestic matter when a 15-year-old girl was assaulted in broad daylight by her two brothers, because she had run away from her home when she was being beaten up regularly for no rhyme or reason."