As women and girls across the globe have been forced to shelter with their abusers, reports of violence increased, and we are reminded that the frontlines exist in our own homes, communities, and nations.

In Pakistan, violence against women is again in the headlines: a lawyer and mother of six was abducted, raped, and tortured for four days by three unknown men after she attended court hearings. After a video of the survivor was circulated online, a social media movement calling for the end of rape culture in Pakistan trended.

The online treatment of female journalists increasingly worsened for Pakistani women. 36 female journalists signed a statement, accusing their online abusers for morphing their photographs and making sexual slurs and threats towards them. Online attacks have been speculated to be instigated by government officials due to the female journalists’ criticism of the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pakistani women are tired of the dangers they face in all areas of life. Whether it’s doing their jobs or being the voices for those less vulnerable, they deserve to live a life free of violence and abuse in all forms.

Our colleague Zainab Ali Khan reminds us that standing up to misogyny is a heroic act all by itself.

This week, she analyzes the mistreatment of women in Pakistan, but also why hope still remains.

“The rape, torture, and abduction of a woman doctor in the time of COVID-19, the honor killing of another that’s conveniently been dubbed a suicide, and the harassment of women who speak their mind online – THIS from a nation whose founding father, Mohmmad Ali Jinnah, recognized that the power of the sword and the pen both pale in comparison to the power of women! However, even in these dark times, hope remains! Stories such as that of Tabassum Adnan remind us that the women of Pakistan have traded their bangles for fists. Kudos to Academy Award-winning Director, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, for shining a spotlight on these stories! In violent times, showing a mirror that reflects the misogyny of your culture is a heroic act in itself!

This year, your support will ensure that frontline activists can continue to be the champions for global systems change necessary to create a life free from violence.

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Zainab Ali Khan, Founding Working Group Member of Every Woman Treaty, is a Gender Specialist with over 10 years of work experience in the Development and Corporate sectors of Pakistan. Belonging to a conservative family, Ms Ali Khan had to fight for her right to a foreign education. She is the first woman in her family to be sent abroad for further education. Ms Ali Khan’s educational background includes a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Maine (USA) in English Literature with a minor in Women’s Studies. She also holds a Master’s degree from the University of Toronto (Canada) in Women and Gender Studies. Ms Ali Khan was awarded full scholarships for both degrees. During her time at the Women and Gender Institute of University of Toronto, Ms Ali Khan extensively researched honor crimes in Pakistan for her dissertation entitled, “Honor Crimes in Pakistan: A Critical Analysis of the Zina and Qisas & Diyat Ordinances.”

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