Asma Jahangir obituary

Lawyer and human rights campaigner who fought for women, children and religious minorities in her native PakistanFor four decades the Pakistani lawyer Asma Jahangir, who has died aged 66 after a cardiac arrest, led the way in the struggle for human rights – especially those of women, children and religious minorities. In doing so she deployed a sharp wit and a direct manner of speaking. But while her voice was appreciated by liberals who believed that the only way Pakistan’s civil society could progress was to improve its human rights record, she had powerful detractors who opposed her actions on the grounds that she was destroying the country’s traditional political and social fabric.

In 1983, as part of the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy, Asma, who had recently been called to the supreme high court, was among members of the Lahore Punjab Women Lawyers’ Association who publicly protested against the proposed law of evidence stipulating that the value of a woman’s testimony was half that of a man. Having been teargassed and beaten by the police, several of the protesters were jailed, as was Asma.

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