Getting women’s right back in Pakistan

 Getting women’s right back in Pakistan

Getting women’s right back in Pakistan_

The move to appoint Justice Ayesha Malik, who banned virginity tests for rape survivors, was described as a defining moment for the country.

Pakistan’s top judicial commission has nominated a female judge to the supreme court for the primary time within the country’s history.

The move to pave the way for Justice Ayesha Malik to join the court has been widely praised by advocates and civil society activists as a defining moment within the struggle for gender equality in Pakistan.

The parliamentary secretary for law and justice, Maleeka Bokhari, called it a “ shattering of the glass ceiling”.

“ a very important and defining moment in our country as an excellent advocate and therefore the decorated judge has become Pakistan’s first female SC ( supreme court) judge,” Bokhari, a junior minister of the ruling Tehreek-e-Insaf party, wrote on Twitter.

The fifty-five-year-old’s appointment has been supported by the chief justice of Pakistan, Gulzar Ahmed, and now goes to a parliamentary panel for confirmation.

The decision has not been without opposition, with one group of advocates threatening to strike if Malik joined the supreme court bench. The nine-member commission turned down her appointment to the court last year, but this time the decision of the panel of judges was five votes to four in her favour.

Several advocates and judges said her selection violated the principles in terms of seniority, maintaining that she wasn't among the highest three senior judges within the court from which she has nominated the Lahore high court, where Malik has served since the year 2012.

Imaan Mazari-Hazir, an advocate in Islamabad, said “ Women have, within the history, been blocked from getting chief justices of their respective high courts and therefore the incontrovertible fact that we did not have one woman within the supreme court so far illustrates that there is indeed deep-rooted misogyny within the legal fraternity.”

Malik has given some landmark verdicts in her career, last year outlawing virginity tests for female rape survivors. “ it is a humiliating practice, which is employed to cast suspicion on the victim, as opposed to focusing on the accused and therefore the incident of sexual violence,” she said in her verdict, which only applies within the state of Punjab.

Nighat Dad, a digital rights advocate and human rights activist, said Malik had proved “ her competence within the courtroom”.

“ Justice Ayesha Malik’s appointment may be a historic move for our judicial system because it is not only the primary time a lady features a seat within the supreme court since Pakistan’s inception, but it opens up endless possibilities for other women within the legal field,” she said.

“ during a country where crimes of gender-based violence are a continuing reality, more women within the supreme court can hopefully have a consequence on the larger justice system to be more inclusive,” said Dad, adding that the law had “ immense barriers for ladies and marginalised communities”.

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