Pakistan

Samar Minallah Khan’s films focus primarily on the practice of swara, where a daughter is given away as compensation for a crime. Swara happens mainly in poor, rural areas. An anthropologist and documentarian who grew up in Pakistan but was educated in England, she started investigating swara in the early 2000s. The more she learned, the more upset she became. In 2003, her documentary 
 Swara — 
 A Bridge Over Troubled Water , profiled victims and their families. Khan went into rural regions and spoke with men who had been forced to give a daughter or sister away as compensation for a crime or to settle a family feud. Her work challenged the norms in very traditional areas of Pakistan; she faced intimidation and death threats. And she still does. Most of the initial footage for her most recent documentary on swara was unusable because the cameraman was shaking from fear. Those challenges have led Khan to find an unlikely protagonist for her documentaries. Over and over, she was impressed by the men who opposed this practice. “Men, too, face hurdles for speaking up and for challenging norms,” she says. “Standing up in the face of society and country expectations, that takes a lot of courage.” 
 Filmmaker Wants To Stop Fathers From Giving Up Their Daughters 
 Photo: Courtesy of Samar Minallah Khan

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