Home Global Village Asma Jahangir: Pakistan’s human rights warrior

Asma Jahangir: Pakistan’s human rights warrior

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The Guardian noted “she has championed battered wives, rescued teenagers from death row, defended people accused of blasphemy and sought justice for victims of honor killings”, and “for almost four decades she has towered over Pakistan’s human rights war”.

Read more: UN Secretary General pays tribute to Asma Jahangir

Born and raised in Lahore, Jahangir studied at the Convent of Jesus and Mary before receiving her B.A. from Kinnaird College and LLB from Punjab University in 1978. She became renowned as a democracy activist in the 1980s, imprisoned in 1983 for participating in the Movement for Restoration of Democracy an alliance created in 1981 to oppose General Zia ul Haq.

It will be the people of the country themselves who will bring about the change in society because they have had to struggle to fend for themselves at every level.

She co-founded the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan in 1987, an NGO that has established itself in the struggle for human rights and democratic development in Pakistan. Asma was the recipient of several awards including the 2010 Freedom Award, Sitara-e-Imtiaz, the 1995 Martin Ennals award for Human Rights Defenders, the UNESCO/Bilbao Prize for the Promotion of a Culture of Human Rights among others.

Read more: Asma Jehangir: Remembered fondly by most but not by all

Asma was also the first woman in Pakistan to become the President of the Supreme Court Bar Association or SCBA in 2010. She had been the longest-serving United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights from 2016 to 2018 However, Asma Jehangir was certainly no stranger to controversy. William Dalrymple, writing for The New Yorker, described Jahangir as Pakistan’s “most visible and celebrated—as well as most vilified—human-rights lawyer.


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