Home Rights Asma Jahangir: a human rights hero

Asma Jahangir: a human rights hero

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Asma Jahangir: a human rights hero

A revolutionary feminist who used her considerable ascendancy in the highest ranks of Pakistan’s legal community. She fought till the very end for the citizens and causes that were close to her heart. 

Asma fought for women’s unilateral right to marriage when in 1997 Lahore High Court upheld a 22-year-old Pakistani woman’s marriage without the consent of her legal guardian. 

Asma played an integral role and as a result in 2003 the Supreme Court declared that a Pakistani woman had an unequivocal right to marry on her free will without needing the consent of her wali (father or brother).

Asma was one of the leaders of Women’s Action Forum (WAF), that had held a public demonstration and confronted General Zia ul Haq’s Hudood Ordinance that discriminated against women and the minorities. She advocated for women’s rights and was always outspoken about the existing sexism and inequality. 

Jahangir also successfully represented victims of honour killings at the Supreme Court. The Apex Court refused to reduce a prison statement against an elderly family member, who had murdered a woman named Saima Waheed and injured her husband for marrying against the family’s wishes. The reduction was proposed by Lahore High Court. 

She also fought for juvenile rights, when a child was arrested by Punjab police under the Vagrancy Ordinance of 1958. Jahangir contested against it, the court later instructed the administration to distinguish between necessity beggars and those that were professional. 

At her funeral, those who had been deeply touched by her work gathered to bid her farewell. Her funeral was a display of progressive solidarity where people from all religions, sects and casts were present to pay their respects. There was also an acid attack survivor wearing a Burqa, sobbing in one corner, saying “who will help us now?”

Jahangir following Muslim Law also successfully restored the custody of a male minor to his mother, since the father had unlawfully deprived the mother of custody for years. 

Her pursuit of a more just Pakistan was fruitful for the citizens especially women, the minorities and those that belonged to the marginalized communities. 

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