Victims of honor crimes are silenced. Victims of honor crimes are shamed. Victims of honor crimes are made pariahs. And, often, victims of honor crimes are extinguished. This week, Honor Diaries, a documentary focusing on the global manifestations of honor violence, was itself silenced, when two American universities — the University of Michigan at Dearborn and the University of Illinois in Chicago — canceled planned screenings. With this act of censorship, the movie has become a metaphor for its message. Just like the women and girls it portrays, the movie has been silenced and its progenitors shamed.
While honor crimes take place in many cultures, they are most prevalent today in the Muslim-majority world and increasingly in Muslim diaspora communities settled in the West. Our movie examines the work of nine women activists, many of them Muslim, in defending and rescuing these victims.
As an observant Muslim who has lived in Saudi Arabia, the center of the Muslim-majority world, as a woman of Pakistani heritage, and as a female physician who has identified and reported both adult and child victims of abuse, I contributed to the expert commentary in Honor Diaries, and did so willingly without compensation of any form. I did so in accordance with my values as a Muslim: We are mandated by Islam to expose any injustice, including among our own.