Asma Jahangir honored


In early December 2018, Asma Jahangir, noted Pakistani human rights activist and advocate, was posthumously awarded the 2018 United Nations Human Rights Prize.


In an editorial the Daily Times stated: “Jahangir famously opposed military dictators like Yahya Khan, Ziaul Haq and Pervez Musharraf and resisted their efforts to muzzle freedom of the press, undermine universal franchise, and basic human rights. Most importantly, she gave voice to the marginalised and oppressed sections of the Pakistani public. Jahangir was a dedicated feminist who stood for the equality of all the genders. She vehemently opposed Ziaul Haq’s Hudood Ordinance which blurred the lines between adultery and rape and punished women who had been sexually violated. The Hudood Ordinance was passed in 1979, and within a few years, the jails were filled with women accused and convicted under the Ordinance. These laws took 27 years of a legal and political struggle to amend them. Jahangir led this struggle from the forefront but also helped the women incarcerated because of the Hudood laws. She often took cases of women which pitched her against the powerful families, feudal and the religious elites. Pakistan’s minority groups will always remember how she picked up cases of the blasphemy-accused – the people who would have otherwise languished in jails without an attorney or murdered extra-judicially.”


Further, “Jahangir’s struggles exposed her to threats, physical attacks, and abuse. Recently, she also came under fire on social media. She dealt with these hate campaigns laced with lies and propaganda with her signature courage and panache. Some sections of the press and religious elite didn’t even spare her in her death. Therefore, it is crucial that the young men and women of today who have seen Jahangir oppose power-wielders and patriarchy should also note how much respect she earned in the international fraternity. Her effort as a lone warrior and the loudest voice against bigotry must be remembered. Jahangir has left a rich legacy that needs to be honoured and built upon. She will always be a role model for human rights defenders and democrats.”