According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, the human rights situation for women in that country is grim. The assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto while she was campaigning in late December 2007 captured world headlines but violence against women continued unchecked throughout the country. The murder of Zille Huma Usman, the Punjab province’s Minister for Women’s Development, by a religious zealot, was another example of women’s insecurity. But the killing of prominent women masks the thousands of acts of violence carried out in silence and where men often go unpunished. Women are vulnerable and lack power particularly in rural areas where they are the targets of acid attacks, burning, rape and honor killings. In a strongly patriarchal culture women’s voices are generally muted. But some Pakistani women are fighting back. Interview by David Barsamian.
Tahira Abdullah is a prominent women’s rights activist and development worker based in Islamabad.