Outlawed in Pakistan — Kainat Soomro’s story on film

Published: February 7, 2013
The short film shows how Kainat’s family suffered after she decided to bring the alleged perpetrators to justice. PHOTO: FILE

The short film shows how Kainat’s family suffered after she decided to bring the alleged perpetrators to justice. PHOTO: FILE

Amid the media storm that broke after the gang rape and death of a 23-year-old Delhi girl Jyoti Pandey, two journalists have made a short film that follows the story of a teenage girl allegedly raped in a village in Dadu, rural Sindh in 2007.

The story revolves around the central character of the film, Kainat Soomro, who was raped by four men while she was on her way back home from school. The film depicts Kainat’s struggle for justice. The story narrates how the ugly incident became a matter of ‘family’s honour’.

The short film titled Outlawed in Pakistan was one of 15 short documentary films selected for the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. Directors and producers of the film Habiba Nosheen and Hilke Schellmann, while speaking to ABC News said that the documentary was inspired by Kainat’s perseverance.

Pakistani-Canadian journalist Nosheen has received several awards, including the Gracie Award for outstanding correspondent and reporter by the Alliance for Women in Media. Hilke is a German journalist who was previously associated with The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and National Geographic.

The short film shows how Kainat’s family suffered after she decided to bring the alleged perpetrators to justice. Fearing that a tribal court might order the girl’s killing because rape brings shame to the family, Kainat’s family moved to Karachi. However, Kainat and her family refused to give in to tribal norms and stayed resilient in her struggle.


After Kainat’s rape, her father and brother were beaten up by the alleged rapists, while her older brother went missing and was later found murdered. The rape survivor’s family now lives in poverty, but remains unperturbed in its struggle to get justice for Kainat — they hired a lawyer, filed a court appeal and appeared on news channels to bring the alleged rapists to justice.

Nosheen told ABC News, “The film shows how fighting for rape is like in Pakistan, where you don’t have a system to collect evidence, to do proper investigation. When this mechanism is missing and someone comes out and says ‘I am raped’, then it’s just the woman’s word against the men.”

When asked if it was risky to film this case, the Pakistani-Canadian film-maker said, “One of the remarkable advantages of being a female investigative journalist in Pakistan is that no one takes you seriously. So, if you go somewhere with a camera, people don’t worry about being filmed.”

The short film will air on Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), a non-profit American public broadcasting television, this spring in a show called Frontline.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 8th, 2013.               

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Reader Comments (9)

  • Shaami
    Feb 7, 2013 - 8:54PM

    So another Movie Maker looking for an Oscar ?. These topics are great to get enough attention and Western people will love to see these movies and will generalize the whole Population of Pakistan into one group. I congratulate Shirmeen Obaid to pave the way for our movie makers to Demonize our country as much as Possible. In my city where i live in Punjab I have started more than Ten educational and Philanthropist Projects but i am sure no movie maker will cover them as Obviously when some movie maker will tell the world something right is going on in Pakistan then who will buy that story in the West.


  • Proud Hindu
    Feb 7, 2013 - 9:16PM

    We want to help that raped girl and if Miss Nosheen can get her contact then we are ready to finance her to come to India and we will fight for her rights as there is a difference in pakistan and India. pakistan needs tons of women like the above movie maker so that all women could be protected from misogynist people there.


  • Anwer Chughtai
    Feb 7, 2013 - 10:00PM

    @Proud Hindu:

    Mr. Proud Hindu, while the actions of the civil society with regards to the recent incidence in India are very appreciative and commendable, still India has immense problems of their own and I think your focus should be on them at this time.

    The educated youth of Pakistan and might I add specially the young ladies of Pakistan have now started to rise to the occasion. They have become proactive in their just struggle of equal and honorable treatment. As an American of Pakistan origin I feel proud of these young adults. The journey is long but not impossible.

    May God Bless the young adults of Pakistan. May God bless Pakistan.


  • ozymandias
    Feb 7, 2013 - 10:38PM

    strange title for a movie


  • gp65.
    Feb 8, 2013 - 4:50AM

    @Proud Hindu: One should not gloat about rape in another country. Wherever they happen they are condemnable and we as Indians need to keep the pressure up on our government to implement the improved laws and also improve the policing to reduce the incidence of rape in our own country.


  • A-B
    Feb 8, 2013 - 2:46PM

    @Shaami, Great to know that you’re quietly contributing positively in your community. Would love to know more about your efforts. Please share on http://www.facebook.com/inspirepak.


  • Palvasha von Hassell
    Feb 8, 2013 - 2:49PM


    Well done to you for having started those projects.Tell us more about them. I, like you, am more interested in people who work towards correcting the wrongs in Pakistani society than in cheap pandering to anti-Pakistan sentiments abroad.


  • Shaami
    Feb 8, 2013 - 6:49PM

    @A-B: I will summarize all the projects in coming months and will definitely share.


  • Schabboo Khan
    Feb 8, 2013 - 9:31PM


    You can’t solve a problem unless it is properly defined. Further, violence against women and disregard of their pain is a world-wide issue with unique regional variants. I don’t think we should be embarrassed by these stories. Instead we should be proud that someone has the guts to identify the problem, research it and tell it the way it is so that we can work towards a solution.


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