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Farida-Afridi-1Farida Afridi, co-founder of SAWERA, murdered in July 2012

Equality Now calls on Pakistan to End All Violence and Discrimination Against Women and Girls

Source: Equality Now. January 2013.

In the wake of increasing political uncertainty in Pakistan, Equality Now and our partners are deeply concerned about the continuing attacks and threats against activists and NGO workers there.  Women, and those working to promote the rights of women and girls, have been targeted in particular by some of this violence.  In the past four months alone, at least 20 activists and NGO workers have been killed, and many injured – including 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai, an activist advocating for access to education for girls. 

We call on the government to take immediate measures to end impunity for crimes against women and to take legislative, educational and other appropriate measures to address the culture of silence and victim-blaming that increases the vulnerability of women to violence. 

According to NGOs in the area, threats to the lives of human rights defenders, and NGO workers in general, are common.  We are troubled by the lack of effective measures to protect human rights activists in the region.  Many local and foreign NGOs are specifically working to safeguard and promote the rights of women and girls - the continued threats and attacks against them are slowing down progress in this regard.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggya, and the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, Rashida Manjoo, have both taken note of violations against human rights defenders working on women’s rights in Pakistan and have highlighted the government’s responsibility to investigate and promptly ensure that perpetrators are held accountable.  Furthermore, a 2008 report from the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review of Pakistan urged the country to “combat impunity for attacks on human rights defenders by effectively investigating allegations and by prosecuting those responsible.”

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Also see: Statement on the Safety of Women Human Rights Defenders