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To do justice by Asifa would be to recognize that in her tragedy lies the story of thousands of women and girls in Kashmir who have experienced the same crimes fueled by the same ideologies.

[CW/TW: mention of r/pe or sexual assault, and murder.] By Manaal Farooqi When news of an abduction, rape and murder of an 8-year-old girl in India broke loose earlier this month, the response was polarizing within the nation and amongst its diaspora. Asifa Bano was sexually assaulted for days then murdered by several men, also happened to be a Muslim Kashmiri in Indian occupied Kashmir. The Hindu men who tortured and murdered Asifa were found and arrested, but have received sympathies and demonstrations for their release from Hindu nationalists across the country. The men allegedly committed the crime to drive away Asifa’s family and community, the nomadic Bakarwal tribe members. The injustice has been framed as isolated from the overall occupation and atrocities that have been committed in the past decades in Kashmir, but the history of violence, sexual assault and more in the region has been an intrinsic part of this cycle of violence. Hindu nationalism has been on the rise since the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2014, which is the political extension of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) who are committed to creating a Hindu nationalist state. While these changes in government and policies have swept the nation since 2014, these issues have affected the people of Kashmir for far longer. Indian occupied Kashmir has dealt with clashes and insurgencies since 1965, at times with the help of the Pakistani state as well. In current times, the insurgency continues on a different scale with alternative tactics since 2017 — dubbed as the “year of the student uprising”— including mass protests and rallies. This particular generation has been raised in occupation for their entire lives and with the BJP in power they are experiencing the national shift with a deeper sense of estrangement from the state. With comments from both the BJP and Modi asking Kashmiri youth to choose between “tourism and terrorism”, the already established lack of faith in the state and government has deepened.
Related: SOUTH ASIAN SPACES NEED TO BE INCLUSIVE OF KASHMIRIS WITHOUT TOKENIZATION

Asma's life and work is the very definition of South Asian feminism and in many ways is also a blueprint for future human rights and feminist activism in Pakistan and beyond.

Fierce and fearless Pakistani human rights activist, feminist trailblazer, and democracy advocate Asma Jahangir died on Feb. 11, in her hometown of Lahore, but not without leaving behind a phenomenal legacy anyone would be hard-pressed to match. Even in death, Asma Jahangir continues to smash the patriarchy: While local custom does not permit women to attend public funerals, women turned out in droves to honor this iconic woman who did so much to further the rights of women, children, religious freedom, as well as democracy not just in Pakistan, but around the world. The presence of women at her funeral — breaking from so much patriarchal oppression and tradition — quietly echoes her attempt in 2005 to host a mixed-gender marathon in to promote awareness of violence against women. Thankfully Jahangir’s funeral did not result in the state-sponsored assaults against women protesters, including Jahangir herself, back in 2005. At home, Jahangir was the first woman president of the Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan. She was the co-founder of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan in 1987, holding the role of Secretary General until 1993 when she was promoted to chairperson. With her sister Hina Jilani and a cohort of human rights lawyers/activists, Jahangir founded the first ever law firm started by women in the country. Through their law firm, Jahangir and Jilani established AGHS Legal Aid, Pakistan’s first ever free legal service that also ran a shelter for women. Jahangir defended women’s rights to choose who they would marry when the law required her male guardian’s consent. She fought for the rights of religious minorities in Pakistan, including Hindus and Christians who were being unfairly targeted by the Muslim-majority government. She worked to separate religion from government, and in particular spoke out against Pakistan’s blasphemy laws and warned in her 2017 Amartya Sen Lecture at London School of Economics, “One should be careful while bringing religion into legislation, because the law itself can become an instrument of persecution.” She was a member of the Lahore High Court and Pakistani Supreme Court, one of the few women to have been appointed. Jahangir was also placed under house arrest multiple times due to her work with the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy, a program aiming to dismantle the military regime of Zia-ul-Haq that was setting human rights back in Pakistan one decree at a time.
Related: 9 DESI FEMINIST ACTIVISTS YOU NEED TO KNOW

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