Dr. Asma Jahangir

Dr. Asma Jahangir is a well-known Pakistani lawyer and human rights activist. For over 30 years, she has campaigned for human rights in Pakistan as a tireless critic of the military regime and religious extremists. She is among the most important voices for women's rights in her society.

Dr. Jahangir grew up in a politically active family. Her father Malik Jilani was a politician and opponent of the military dictatorship. He spent many years in prison and under house arrest. This led her to decide at a young age to stand up for the oppressed: women, children and religious minorities. Since the age of 18, she has campaigned for a secular society and especially the rights of women in Pakistan. After studying law, she set up Pakistan’s first women-run legal practice with her sister Hina Jilani in 1980. AGHS Legal Aid Cell was the first free legal aid bureau that also operated a women’s refuge. As an attorney, Asma Jahangir defended members of religious minorities charged with blasphemy. Over the years she also represented many victims of rape, domestic violence and forced labor. Her success in court led more and more women to insist on their rights, thereby changing the position of women in Pakistan.

In 1980, Dr. Jahangir set up the Women’s Action Forum (WAF) with other human rights activists and in 1986 she founded the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), taking over as its chair in 2005. In the past 15 years, Dr. Jahangir has held various international positions, such as UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Arbitrary and Summary Executions and UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief. In 2006, she worked with the government on the Protection of Women Act, and in 2010 was elected President of the Supreme Court Bar Association.

Dr. Jahangir has received numerous international accolades for her courageous, continuous and longstanding battle against the oppression of women, children and victims of religious extremism.

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1 comment

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