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Our Film About ‘Honor Violence’ Should Not Be Censored

Last Sunday, a group of students at the University of South Dakota planned to attend a screening of our film, Honor Diaries, a documentary focused on the abuses women face under the honor system.

The film follows the stories of nine women’s rights activists — of Christian, Sikh, and Muslim backgrounds — as they tackle the taboo surrounding honor-based violence: murders in the name of honor, forced and early marriage, and female genital mutilation (FGM).

The film has won awards at multiple film festivals, been screened at the UK House of Commons, Amnesty International, and the UN in New York and Geneva, as well as hundreds of universities across the countries. But the students in South Dakota never got a chance to watch the film. They were not given the platform to explore its issues, celebrate its women, or become empowered by its message. A professor at the university who supports the film called it “stealth repression” that the film screening was mysteriously canceled. Organizers of another Honor Diaries screening, scheduled for April 10 at the university, have been under steady attack and pressure to do the same. Fortunately, they are holding out and standing strong in the name of freedom of expression, human rights and women’s empowerment.

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