So-called honour killings by families who believe their daughters have disgraced them are increasingly common in Pakistan. But the gunning down last week of a woman by her brother, a lawyer, in front of dozens of witnesses in a packed courtroom in the bustling city of Hyderabad marks an alarming new low.
Women's Action Forum (WAF) Lahore is deeply disturbed by the shocking news of the killing of Ms. Farida Afridi in the Khyber Agency. It is evident from news reports that she was killed because she was a woman human rights defender associated with a non-government organization working for the welfare of tribal women.
Farida Afridi was shot dead in cold blood for the crime of being a decent, caring human being. As the executive director of the human rights NGO, Sawera, Afridi was working in Fata performing the most thankless of jobs: trying to improve the plight of women in an area where many people have never even considered the concept of women’s rights. For that, she had to pay the ultimate price as she was killed by armed gunmen, most likely members of the Taliban, as she drove from her home in Hayatabad, Peshawar to Jamrud in Khyber Agency. Apart from taking away a valuable activist, the militants, through their brutality, will also ensure that there is a chilling effect as fewer NGOs and women will be willing to risk working in an area that needs their efforts the most.
Security leaks have brought to light a plot to kill human rights defender Asma Jahangir - former UN Special Rapporteur for Religious Freedom and the President of the Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan. Jahangir has been a vocal and outspoken leader of the human rights movement in Pakistan for over 30 years and is respected both within Pakistan and the international community.
Farida Shaheed is a sociologist with over 25 years’ research experience on women’s issues (including rural development, women and labour and legal rights), especially in Pakistan and South Asia. She is a long-time UNRISD collaborator, and joins us with an interview on the occasion of International Women’s Day. Her article on politics, religion and gender in Pakistan has been published in a special issue of Cahier du Genre entitled “Religion et politique: Les femmes prises au piège”. In this interview, she speaks to UNRISD about International Women’s Day, laws on women’s rights in Pakistan and some of the challenges in implementing them.
Women Living Under Muslim Laws, the Violence is not our Culture Campaign, and Justice for Iran are pleased to announce the release of a new publication: Mapping Stoning in Muslim Contexts. This report locates where the punishment of stoning is still in practice, either through judicial (codified as law) or extrajudicial (outside the law) methods.
Pakistan’s Senate on Monday passed a bill that makes violence against women and children an offence carrying jail terms and fines, state media said. The Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Bill was introduced by Senator Nilofar Bakhtiar and passed unanimously by the upper house of the federal parliament, Pakistan Television reported.
The murder of infants, particularly girls, by poverty-stricken parents in Pakistan appears to be on the rise.
Late at night two months ago in a village in Pakistan’s Punjab Province, the parents of a two-day-old infant girl smothered the child, and then buried her tiny body in a distant field, carefully patting down the soil to hide any signs of digging. The mother cries often and says she still has nightmares about the event.