Women Democratic Front’s statement on the kidnapping of Advocate Nasreen Irshad

The Women Democratic Front expresses grave concern at the reports of kidnapping and torture of lawyer Nasreen Irshad from Depalpur city in district Okara.

Press release 26.08.2020 Islamabad: Advocate Irshad, who was picked up by unidentified men from near the Delapur kucheri on August 15, was subsequently left gagged and bound by the roadside several days later. Badly mistreated during her captivity, she is not yet in a condition to make a full statement.

While fuller details of the case will hopefully emerge over the next few days, one thing is painfully clear. And that is that yet another woman in Pakistan has been subjected to brutal violence, and her life, liberty and well-being severely threatened.

This is the daily reality of untold number of women and girls and other marginalized groups in our country. It is heartbreaking that every few days, if not daily, we come across stories of women and girls kidnapped, raped, and killed amid deafening silence from the institutions whose reason for existence is to protect the lives of all citizens. Pakistan is regularly ranked among the most unsafe societies in the world for women with little attention from the powers that be to address this colossal crisis which is literally costing lives on a daily basis, with the majority of the cases going unreported and unacknowledged.

In fact, a key reason why Advocate Irshad’s case received the little attention it did is a video that is circulating online of her rescue which shows her clearly traumatized and in shock. It should not take a video of a woman’s trauma to spur calls for action, and promises of justice. It is now being reported that the Prime Minister has taken notice of the case, which while a welcome step is grossly insufficient in the face of the massive challenge that this country is facing with regards to the safety and well-being of girls and women.

What we expect from the Prime Minister is not just to take notice of individual cases, but to address the root causes of this systemic oppression and tyranny which is fanned by the state’s support of right-wing and anti-women forces, never-ending wars, and an increasingly rigid, fundamentalist and patriarchal curriculum.

The Women Democratic Front also calls upon all the Bar Councils across Pakistan to forcefully speak out against Advocate Irshad’s kidnapping and torture, join the calls to ensure justice for her and accountability for her torturers, and to take concrete steps to address the patriarchal cultures within their own organizations and the legal establishment in general which hinder women’s and other marginalized groups access to justice.

We also call upon all progressive forces to join hands in the struggle against growing violence faced by women, children, and non-binary genders in Pakistan.

Issued by
Rubab Karrar
Information secretary WDF Islamabad