HERSTORY: Uzma Noorani Speaks About Breaking The Taboo Around Talking About Rape

Young Pakistanis today are relatively ignorant about the feminist movement in Pakistan. There seems to be a huge knowledge gap about the women’s movement of Pakistan from its beginning, and its progress to date. This is partly due to schools barely focusing on women’s rights, both pre and post-Partition.Even before the Partition of India into two separate countries, women in United India regardless of religious beliefs, played an active role in fighting for their rights. We read brief paragraphs in Pakistan Studies textbooks about “the role of Muslim women in creation of Pakistan” but that seems like a distant memory that consists only of Fatima Jinnah, Begum Raana Liaquat, and the mother of the Johar brothers during the Khilafat movement. Just like these textbooks don’t portray actual history accurately,similarly they portray no picture of the women’s movement in Pakistan. Young Pakistani feminists are embracing The Second Sex, A Room of One’s Own, The Yellow Wallpaper, but ask them about Fahmida Riaz’s beautiful “Chador Aur Chaar Devari” (Four Walls and a Black Veil) or the poem by Kishwar Naheed which is affectionately referred to as a women’s anthem among feminists, and you get blank stares.

Bolo Bhi created The Women’s Movement Herstory Project, to
interview feminists and activists who were at the forefront of the struggle,
and witnessed firsthand the fight for women’s rights, and personally went
through hardships for the sake of all women.

One of our interviewees was Uzma Noorani, a rights activist whose work over the span of decades has included women’s rights, human rights, Pakistan-India peace efforts. She was one of the founding members of Women’s Action Forum(WAF), and a council member of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP). She is also responsible for the inception of Panah Shelter Home in Karachi, of which she is a Founder Trustee. Her work on women’s issues, peace efforts, human rights, justice and law is beyond comparison.

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