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Lauren Saccone
February 11, 2018 10:45 am

The world has lost a truly incredible person. On Sunday, February 11th, lawyer, feminist, and human rights activist Asma Jahangir passed away suddenly at the age of 66 due to cardiac arrest. While friends, family, and supporters mourn her loss, Asma Jahangir leaves behind the sort of legacy you can be truly proud of. She wasn’t afraid to step to the forefront and fight the battles she believed in.

In case you don’t know much about her, Asma Jahangir lived an incredible life. She made a name for herself by taking on tough fights and refusing to compromise her morals. As a human rights lawyer, she fought passionately to defend the rights of minorities and women. She was a devoted advocate for the people of Pakistan, struggling to make silenced voices heard through her tireless work.

From 2010 to 2012, Asma Jahangir served as the President of the Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan. She also co-founded the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan back in 1987. Created as an independent, non-profit organization, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan is devoted to spreading awareness regarding human rights violations and defending the people of Pakistan against unjust persecution. Jahangir worked extensively with the Commission, assuming roles ranging from secretary general to chairperson. She remained in office until 2011.

It wasn’t an easy road that Asma Jahangir chose to travel.

In the 1980s, Jahangir spent time in prison for fighting in in the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy under Zia ul Haq. Then, in 1995, her family was threatened when she defended 14-year-old Salamat Masih over blasphemy charges. And in 2008, in a move to terrify Jahangir, her daughters were kidnapped and assaulted.

Despite these hardships, Asma Jahangir never backed down.

She was an outspoken critic of the Hudood Ordinance and similar Pakistani laws that targeted women and minorities. She published two books (despite outcry from her enemies) and worked extensively with the United Nations. At the time of her death in 2018, Jahangir was working as the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Iran.

I remember meeting her about five years ago in Karachi. We talked about the weather and I gushed on about how much I respected her, admired her, and saluted her. She smiled and smoked her cigarette, completely humble and human, and made me respect her even more. #AsmaJahangir was one of the bravest women Pakistan ever had, ever knew. She stood up to dictators and misogynists fearlessly. Her death is an incalculable loss for #Pakistan. Every time I remember she's dead, a chill runs through me. Who will continue her word, her legacy? Who will speak the Truth? My heart skips a beat in fear, knowing this woman is no more. What a legend! Her group of lawyers in Lahore helped me through one of the most difficult and trying times of my life. And I'll never forget that. That was the early 2000s. In the late 1990s, I had written a college essay which got published in The News, it was on #womensrights and I had quoted Asma Jahangir. I recall several male family members attacked and berated me for quoting her, for siding with her views. It was disappointing but also made me realise at a young age that she was too much for most men, and she didn't care much about their opinion of her. And I loved it, revered it. Pakistan won't be the same without this glorious human. Rest in peace, Asma, rest in power 🙏❤ #SarahDrama #thecrazyones #humanrights #wonderwoman #warrior #legend #leader #fearless #lawyer #activist #giant

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Over the years, Asma Jahangir received countless awards and accolades for her vital work. She was a feminist icon, a powerful advocate, and an inspiration to people across the world. Our thoughts are with Asma Jahangir’s family and friends during this difficult time. She may be gone, but her impact will never be forgotten.

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