Asma Jahangir, one of the most prominent lawyers of Pakistan, possessed an exceptional record as a courageous human rights activist and a staunch supporter of women rights. Her sudden death is a tremendous loss to the country with numerous oppressed and powerless inhabitants. Hailed as ‘the gutsiest woman’ of Pakistan, she faced many perils in her unrelenting 40-year-long fight against various forms of injustice.

How it all began

Asma was born to a civil servant-turned-politician Malik Jilani and Begum Sabiha Jilani, one of the few Muslim women to study in a co-ed college.

Brought up by activist parents, Asma showed signs of being a revolutionary from her school days. At a very young age, she went on from protesting against the undemocratic rules at school to putting up a fight against the country’s military regime and opposing her father’s unfair detention.

The making of a revolutionary

Finally, the 18-year-old Asma succeeded in getting her father released, marking her first victory as an activist. After getting married, she studied law with the help of her friends when the college forbade married women from attending classes. Along with fellow activists and her sister, she established Pakistan’s first all-women law firm in 1980.

Starting with family cases, she soon moved on to challenging the country’s blasphemy laws and confronting the prominent institutions for encouraging skewed societal norms.

A co-founder of Pakistan’s Human Rights Commission, she also served as a chairperson of the commission. She forged for the rights of the child and bonded laborers as well.

Journey to being a popular activist

Asma faced several arrests, detentions, mob attacks and death threats in her unflinching struggle against the military dictatorship and blasphemy laws.

A strong defender of women and minority religions, she had several international awards to her name. Later, the Iron Lady went on to become the first woman president of Supreme Court Bar Association.

She was the longest-serving special rapporteur of UN from Pakistan. Just before her death, she was examining the situation of human rights in Iran as well as documenting the injustices committed by Tehran’s clerical regime.

A lady of great conviction and unwavering determination, she will continue to serve as a role model for the human rights activists and supporters of democracy across the world. The loss is equally mourned by the country’s less fortunate and underprivileged groups.