Pakistan

A senior female member of Imran Khan's Movement for Justice party (PTI) was shot dead outside her home in Karachi.

Naina Lal, 28, is one of a handful of candidates from Pakistan's "transgender" community standing in national and provincial elections on Saturday. Known as "hijra", a catch-all term for transexuals, hermaphrodites and transvestites but usually indicating someone born male identifying as a woman, they have faced discrimination and ridicule for centuries. Living apart, they have traditionally earned a living as dancers, circus performers, sex workers and beggars.

Fleeing home has come with an unexpected benefit - for the first time the girls are going to school.

Ten-year-old Aliya and eight-year-old Asma arrived at Jalozai refugee camp two weeks ago, after escaping a recent surge in hostilities between government forces and militants near the border with Afghanistan.

Women in Pakistan are being harassed and are encountering hostility via social networks on the Internet. At the same time, many women's rights activists see the web as a new way to further their work.

If a Pakistani woman journalist denounces child abuse and sexual harassment on Twitter, it can happen that she is threatened with rape. "I've received vile, detailed messages from random strangers who decide to tell me my home address and then live out their rape fantasies online."

Once again we share unspeakable horror at the carnage against citizens, this time in AbbasTown, Karachi. Once again we express our condemnation and outrage. Once again we wonder how many more times we will do this before there is resolve to deal with religious militancy.

This is an urgent appeal to help a 14-year old Pakistani-Canadian girl who's father will stand in court for molesting and sexually violating her for two consecutive years. There is a Facebook page that was created yesterday.Please see here:

http://www.facebook.com/CanadianVictimsAppealForHelp

“I shall raise my voice. If I didn’t do it, who would?”

Malala Yousafzai

Seven years ago, Zubaida Ali witnessed a bizarre ceremony in her ancestral village in Sindh where her cousin Fareeba was married to the Holy Quran.

“It was extremely odd and, of course, very tragic. Fareeba, who is a very pretty girl and was then around 25 years old, was dressed as a typical bride, with red, sequined clothes, jewellery and mehndi patterns on her hands and feet but over all this she was draped in an enveloping dark chaddor. There was music and lots of guests but no groom,’’ Zubaida, 33, was quoted as saying by IRIN, the UN information unit in a report.

Pakistan’s second review under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) took place on the 30 October 2012, and was attended by a large delegation led by Ms Hina Rabbani Khar, Minister for Foreign Affairs, and including the Advisor on Human Rights and the Advisor on Minorities.

Young schoolgirls seemed undeterred by the attempt to kill Malala Yousafzai, but parents in northern Pakistan are becoming increasingly concerned over their children going to school.

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