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False Obedience to Injustice

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As I waited anxiously for Khadija Ali, a passionate young woman I met when I attended a women’s empowerment training program, I started to recall her great debates on women’s rights and empowerment. I will never forget her words.
Ms. Ali was born in 1988, in a small traditional house located in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. She is now a high court advocate and lecturer of constitutional law. She also serves as President of Tabeer (striving to turn dreams into reality), a non-profit organization. She is a self-made woman who received scholarships and stipends to continue her education after secondary school. Today, she is a proud daughter and sister, and above all, a vigorous and unbeatable woman. She opened her eyes in a family where the norms of society and culture were the only principles. The urge to question injustice and patriarchy made her rebel and try to overturn the cart. Fearless of the consequences, she began to dream as a child and specified her goals.

On the question of the challenges faced by women in Pakistan, Ms. Ali said,
“Mostly, girls are brought up in a manner that they feel satisfaction in their life. They are being told to obey blindly. They could hardly feel human emotions and they live their whole lives like wax statues.” Ms. Ali was ordered to do the same, but she raised her aims and grew into a woman who will not be ignored.
“I’m Khadija Ali! Period! I’m a daughter and a sister, but above all I’m a human. I’m my father’s daughter but I’m no one’s honor, I have my own identity and my own shadow.”

She is a believer of rights for all and a complete opponent of Talibanization which strict regulation of women to get educated or work. One of her dream is to destroy this concept which is not only used by Talibans but other people as well who wants to suppress the power of womanhood. “Talibans are using name of our religion and portraying wrong image of Islam in order to benefits their pockets and dreams which will soon end into broken pieces of misery”.
She particularly mentioned that blind obedience to elders it is increasing terrorism rapidly. The torture given to the children in schools and houses has resulted into the emergence of extreme violence especially in Pakistan. Not only this, the wrong concept of attaching terrorism with Islam should also be corrected; it is moreover a game of economics, politics and throne. “For me as a lawyer, one of the greatest reasons why terrorism is increasing in Pakistan is because we have not distinguished between personal and public lives.”

According to Ms. Ali, the advocacy of religious beliefs through the medium of State is completely illogical. Both are completely different. Why people are forced to follow the instructions of State about their religion, which is completely their own personal choice. State should not dictate people about their religion and rituals.
“Why should I be told to cover or uncover my head because the State says so?”
Ms. Ali became a lawyer to get the answer for injustice she experienced not only in her house but in the system and laws. For example, before studying law, she could never have the logical arguments about a 1979 law known as Hudood Ordinance which does not differentiate between rape and fornication. Once she became a lawyer, she understood the law and saw it was unjust. After a hard struggle by civil society, the law was corrected in 2006. Now it differentiates between rape and fornication.

Ms. Ali also offered the view that terrorism and extremism increase when people cannot obtain justice. The constitution of Pakistan prohibits any law contrary to Islamic law. This is giving birth to a lot of problems. For example, religious minorities such as the Hindus in Pakistan cannot register their marriages. The photographs and guests of the wedding act as evidence and witnesses.

Ms. Ali has also been presenting pro bono cases against sexual harassment on behalf of women. One of her most difficult cases was advocating for a widowed, 50-year-old woman. Ms. Ali said that the woman was so depressed and suffering such mental torture that she could hardly share what happened to her. The woman told Ms Ali that she had been sexually harassed by a sub ordinate in her department. She fought against the stereotype that only young, pretty women are the targets of sexual harassment. And she showed that sexual harassment does not have to involve physical contact. The man was behaving inappropriately without physically touching her and it was going into his favor. Ms. Ali’s work was successful. The offender wrote an apology. Afterwards many companies changed their policies to give more protection to their employees.

On domestic violence, Ms. Ali said, “In 2012 a domestic violence bill was presented in the Parliament. Opponents of the bill said that domestic violence is a personal matter which should be free from the interference of law.” Ninety percent of Pakistani women do not agree with this view, but sadly they are not sitting in parliament. Ms. Ali said that while demonstration to have this law passed the leader of right wing Fazul ur Rehman pointed the civil society in visiting gallery and said; “Having this law passed is an agenda of these NGO’s funded by Jews and America to corrupt our society”. Ms. Ali and other women’s right activist protested outside the parliament but had to leave soon because of security concerns.

Born in a conservative family, raised in the fire of her dreams, today Ms. Ali has become the voice of women who are silenced. Her journey to bring justice to humanity has not stopped yet. She has a long way to go. Before learning advocacy she was falsely obeying to injustice but now she is obeying her principles. She said;
“I will spend my life fighting for the principles I believe in.”
These are freedom, education and equality for all.

This article is part of a writing assignment for Voices of Our Future a program of World Pulse that provides rigorous digital media and citizen journalism training for grassroots women leaders. World Pulse lifts and unites the voices of women from some of the most unheard regions of the world.

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Comments

pelamutunzi's picture

touching profile

i think you have managed to bring out the wonderful work ms ali is doing clearly. i especially liked the part where she also helps women in sexual harassment cases. this form of abuse has led many women to quit their jobs in zimbabwe. it is difficult to report harassment without being labelled and also have no one believe you at all. im glad the 5o year old stood her ground. this is a story of women being given their voice back. thank you for sharing am truly inspired.

we may be powerless to stop an injustice but let there never be a time we fail to protest.
regards
pela

Klaudia Mexico's picture

I'm myself and no one else

I'm my own and no one else's. How true is that? Even if I don´t live in Pakistan bekloging to myself has been a difficult battle to win.
My deepest admire to Ms. Ali and you for bringing us powerful story

Klaudia González

Tash's picture

Pakistan is in so many ways

Pakistan is in so many ways like Uganda, if not more cultured ! What a nauseating way to treat women!
how can domestic violence be a private matter? what kind of society agrees to that?! she is quite a character! someone i would love to be friends with!

good work!

Kind Regards,
Patsy.

Deqa's picture

Well done

“I will spend my life fighting for the principles I believe in.” Such strong and inspiring words. Ms. Ali has chosen an extremely crucial path to battle and fight for the rights of women particularly. I admire her resolve and you have articulated her story very well my dear.
Well done
Regards,
Deqa

Greengirl's picture

This is beautiful!

Having had the opportunity to read your draft, and now reading this, I cannot but commend your hard work; which is evidenced by this beautifully written Profile of Khadija Ali. She is a rare breed!

Her ideologies are very impressive and I can imagine how tough it is for her to carry them on, within a society that has so much suppressed women. I am happy that she continues to pull down the the prejudicial walls that fail to distinguish between what is personal and that which is public. She is a noble achiever and I am also inspired by her spirit of resilience!

She deserves every support she can get, as she continues to "fight for the principles ( freedom, education and equality) she believes in.”

You did a good job!

Greengirl

Christine.Dahl's picture

nicely done!

I'm so glad to read the results of your investigation and writing. Well done!
Chris

libudsuroy's picture

What a strong and empowered

What a strong and empowered woman you have described here. Such strength of character! She is a great role model for women who are facing the challenges posed by certain cultures and institutions that are not so empowering. I am glad to see how you have transformed the draft into a more flowing narrative. Congratulations!

Blessings,
libudsuroy/Lina Sagaral Reyes
Mindanao, The Philippines

''Every Day is a Journey and the Journey itself is Home.'' (Matsuo Basho)

Lehner's picture

Your profile

Your profile expresses beautifully the accomplishments Ms. Ali and her work towards justice for all women. Bravo!

Take Care,
Monica

Iryna's picture

Well written and strong

Sometime the fights seems to be so difficult and even impossible. But when you are fighting for your principles it gives forces.
It's a very interesting story, inspiring with the examples on how a regular woman can change the situation around her and find support. Well written and strong!

Warmest greetings,
Iryna

Virginia W's picture

what a powerful testimony!

Dear Mahrukh Pasha,

thank you for this powerful story. Your passion and genuine interest in the story came off the pages. I love this quote: “I’m Khadija Ali! Period! I’m a daughter and a sister, but above all I’m a human. I’m my father’s daughter but I’m no one’s honor, I have my own identity and my own shadow.”

That we all cast shadows as unique and important as each of us is!

Gratefully, Virginia

Virginia Williams, MBA, PCC | Executive Coach and Learning Facilitator

Maura Bogue's picture

Good Work!

Congratulations on completing your first assignment! This profile is interesting, and I love the photo.

Next time, remember to put the attributions of your quotes at the end. For example, "My name is Maura," she said.

But overall, great work!

Best,
Maura

Zoepiliafas's picture

My thoughts

Your 1st paragraph does a tremendous job of capturing the reader and drawing him/her into want to read more.

In your piece you write,"Ms. Ali was ordered to do the same, but she raised her aims and grew into a woman who will not be ignored." I think this is a great visual for freeing yourself the growth. Keep up the good work on capturing the readers imagination through storytelling.

The battle for equality in Pakistan has many challenges in front of it. In regards to combating some of these oppressive norms and the connection to and American and Jewish agenda - how do you think that this mindset can be changed?

Thank you for being bold and writing on this! It has given me understanding of a powerful woman fighting a serious and unfair treatment of women in country.

Regards,

Zoe

Zoe Piliafas

Voices of Our Future Community Manager
World Pulse

Leigh Cuen's picture

Great job!

Thank you for sharing this fascinating article.

Leigh Cuen, @La__Cuen
Like Leigh on Facebook

Y's picture

I find it fascinating that,

I find it fascinating that, even with the exemplary work she is doing as a lawyer and successful advocate for equality, she identifies herself, first as a daughter and sister. I believe this is a challenge for women; we seem to value our domestic status more highly than our professional and public successes. Your article is well-written. Your use of quotes interspersed in the piece is very well-done.
Blessings to you.
Yvette

Yvette

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