Islamabad, Pakistan - As international headlines for much of this month focused on the attack on 14-year-old activist Malala Yousafzai by the Taliban, what generally went unnoticed was the outrageous plight of more than a dozen young girls in Pakistan.
Last month, a blood feud between two battling tribes in the Dera Bugti district of Balochistan province was settled by a tribal "Jirga" (assembly of elders) that decided to hand over as many as 13 young girls in "vani" - an age-old tribal custom that gives females in marriage to males of another tribal group to settle a dispute.
When 16-year-old Tahira was murdered in a horrific acid attack last year, her poverty-stricken parents got no justice. Pakistan officials slammed the door in their faces and the police refused to listen.
Pakistan just held a historic election, but civil society is protesting over thousands of women barred from the polls by Islamic radicals and the fresh killings of aid workers in the world’s most dangerous place for humanitarians.
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: