Outlawed in Pakistan Essay Term Paper

Outlawed in Pakistan
Outlawed in Pakistan

Outlawed in Pakistan

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Watch the film and write a 3-4 page paper about of the film answering the three questions below:
1. What was it about (what country, what population, what was the issue)?
2. What did you learn? This is not a summary of the film. I want to know what you learned about the world, about social change.
3. How you can connect what you learned from the film to what you have learned in a class on social change? (I have attached a few PowerPoint) Use specific examples of things we have read in the text or that we have discussed in class.

Outlawed in Pakistan: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/outlawed-in-pakistan/


Outlawed in Pakistan

  1. This documentary film was recorded in Pakistan and it features the quest for justice by a teenager who sought to pursue justice for her rape by four men. The documentary sheds light on the plight of women in Pakistan and more specifically those who have fallen victim to rape or gang-rape. The issue that this story highlights is the fact that the victims of rape are condemned to suffer in silence since the odds are against them both from a socio-cultural perspective as well as from a legal point of view. The challenge being highlighted here is the obstacles that exist between the women and young girls who fall victim to rapists and legal redress.

2. I learnt several things about social change. The first thing I learnt is that social change often results from the existence of inequalities that exist in any given society. In this context there is a clear imbalance between men’s rights and women’s rights. While they have an equal stake in he culture and legal system, women have a smaller chance of benefitting from the existent regulations since men have all the power to manipulate the regulatory framework to suit their needs. This is indicative of other situations where the more influential members of a given society such as the elites conspire to leverage existent legislation to suit their selfish needs and this often places another party on the receiving end. The offended or injured party are the ones who often clamor for social change.

Something else that I learnt about social change is the fact that the need for it is usually more evident from the outside, usually by an individual or group of people who have experienced or witnessed first-hand the benefits of a given change. In this context the girl’s struggle to ensure rapists are punished appears to be more important to foreign journalists who want to share the story, an indication that the local media still has to toe the line, or does not really see the benefit that this social change will bring.

Social change is seldom a government priority as the government tends to reflect the will of the people. For change to be effected effectively, the threshold of people who are in favor of the change needs to exceed the resistance of those who are keen on holding on to the existent way of doing things. This is unfortunately where many social change initiatives get stuck, those who desire the change will often lack the means to win enough people over. At times the sociological term used is political will whereby individual in leadership positions have the final say on what will actually become of a proposed social change. These leaders may be elected officials, state officials or also religious leaders.

Last but not least, I learnt that social change is a continuous process that is bound to fail at different stages of its life cycle. The failures are partly attributed to the resistance to change by key decision makers. In other instances obstacles to change arise in the form of personal threats to the main drivers of change and this happens when one or more of the members of the ‘establishment’ feel that the status quo will be upset if the change is successful. Such individuals will go to extreme lengths to ensure that the ‘balance’ they enjoy is not done away with. In such instances the continuity of the initiative will involve the drivers of the social change doing so at their own risk.

I also learnt that social change needs to be considered in subjectively according to the context within which it is being proposed to function. While change is important and there exist examples of strategies which have worked elsewhere, it is necessary for any given social change to be understood with particular attention being allocated to the stakeholders who are going to be affected both directly and indirectly.

Last but not least, I learnt that social change needs to be presented through the emphasis of what its benefits will be in comparison to an existent situation which is retrogressive. This helps to drum up support for it and at the same time a bottom up approach is more ideal since this places more pressure and responsibility on the leadership to facilitate the necessary change. This requires a vast deal of resources which are at times inaccessible or unavailable in some parts of the world. As such many social change projects in impoverished regions are carried out by foreign aid organizations.

3. The first similarity between the content of this documentary and what we have learnt in class is the definition that I got of social change. Under ‘definitions of social change’  the second definition is given as “A process by which society becomes something different while remaining in some respects the same.”  From the context of this film, it is clear that the aspect that the girl and her family intend to change is the manner in which this community treats victims of rape. The society will still remain the same in that traditional gender roles are unlikely to change in the wake of the success of their effort.

Something else that the film’s content had in common with the material that was given in class is with respect to the source of the social change. The specific topic being referred to here is ‘Clashes over resources and values’ as one of the sources of social change. In the documentary film the clash is between the value systems held by the men who raped the girl and the girl’s family. The men feel that girls have significantly less rights compared to men like themselves who can have their way and manipulate the system to get away with their actions. Not just through the rape but also in ways like forced marriages and also honor killings which in effect exonerate the men from any wrong doing. The girl and the family on the other hand believe that girls and women need to enjoy the right to self-determination and also protection from the state through the issuing of punishments for acts such as rape and other forms of sexual violence. The two value systems contradict one another this the manifestation of a need for social change.

There is also a clear manifestation of fascism in this society since there has been little if any evidence of a collected effort being made by independent community based groups to come to the defense of the girl. The only evidence of people coming together was when the community wanted to have her killed for losing her virginity before marriage or when the religious leader testified about conducting the marriage (PBS, 2013).


PBS (2013) Outlawed in Pakistan (film) Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/outlawed-in-pakistan/

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