Conflict & Justice

India Street Protests Inspire Women's Rights Advocates in Pakistan

The horrific gang rape of a young woman in Delhi, India last month led to widespread public outrage in India. Protesters took to the streets and demanded India's government take a harder look at the country's rape laws.

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In neighboring Pakistan, these large-scale protests inspired women's rights activists and lawyers. Although mass demonstrations against sexual violence are a rarity in Pakistan, women's rights advocates have a 25-year-long history of fighting against repressive rape laws. This has led to some improvements over time.

Hina Jilani, a lawyer practicing in Pakistan's Supreme Court and one of the country's prominent women's rights campaigners, says the women's rights movement is one of the strongest in South Asia, setting "the tone for public protest as an effective mode of compliance with human rights standards by governments, especially in the area of violence against women."

The protests in India, she says, show Pakistanis "how important it is that the responsibility and the ownership of social action is taken by the public, and not just left to small groups of civil society organizations, or human rights and women's rights groups."

She told The World's Jeb Sharp that the Indian protests reverberated in Pakistan, in protests "in Lahore, in big cities like Karachi. This certainly is something that has inspired a kind of reinvigoration of advocacy on violence against women."

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    Credit: REUTERS

    Hina Jilani, a lawyer practicing in Pakistan's Supreme Court and one of the country's prominent women's rights campaigners. REUTERS/Jamil Bittar

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