‘Hum Saya- (Neighbour)’ a film produced by Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) received the award for ‘Best Short Documentary on Human Rights’ at the prestigious Venice Intercultural Film Festival 2023. Hum Saya will be screened in Venice, Italy on the 23rd June, 2023, also at the Kellogg College, University of Oxford on 16th June, 2023 and other places around the world. The film is many of CSJ’s research and advocacy ventures focusing human rights, democratic development and social justice for the marginalized groups in Pakistan in particular.
The film ‘Hum Saya’ blends real life stories of girls who faced the agony of abductions, forced conversions and forced marriages. It also features the ordeal of the families who suffer this multi-faceted criminality.
Although religious freedom is a fundamental right under Article 20 of the Constitution of Pakistan, it is persistently infringed upon. Hum Saya helps the audience understand the importance of this constitutional right in people’s daily lives.
The Director Dawood Murad has woven the three stories to reach the conclusion that a victim’s first line of protection exists in their immediate environs i.e. the people sharing neighborhood, class and circumstances who experience the same marginalization as religious minorities. Therefore, the character Jamal Haider and a neighbor of Asif Masih are real time heroes struggling to bring back a daughter (S) from the captivity under the false pretext of faith conversion and marriage.
The storyline delves into the victims’ perspective situated in Sindh as well as Punjab. Importantly, Lal Chand Malhi – a vocal ex-parliamentarian walks the audience through the causes and manifestations of trespasses to the fundamental right of religious freedom, but also the infringement of rights to self-autonomy and freedom of movement which many daughters of Pakistan are facing.
CSJ reported 124 incidents of forced conversions, child marriages and forced marriages in 2022. Out of these, 59% of the girls were minors and ages of 28% of the girls was not reported. Hindus, Christians and Sikh minorities continued to face the criminality of forced conversions as during 2023, 39 cases have already been reported by May.