Militancy: A progressive voice for tribal women silenced in targeted attack

Published: July 5, 2012

This file photo shows Farida Afridi working in her office. PHOTO: FILE

PESHAWAR: In Farida Afridi’s death, women from the tribal belt have lost a fierce fighter.

Farida, belonging to the Afridi subtribe Kokikhel, was targeted on Wednesday morning at 6.30am when she left her house in Tehsil Jamrud Ghundi Kali for her office in Hayatabad.

“She was cornered by motorcyclists who shot her and she died on the way to Jamrud hospital,” said witness Abid Ali. Farida was 25.

Along with her sister Noor Zia, Farida was committed to social change and economic emancipation for women from the platform of a welfare organisation called the Society for Appraisal and Women Empowerment in Rural Areas (SAWERA). Both women were among the founding members of the NGO and had a Masters degree in Gender Studies.

Due to tribal customs and traditions, women in the area remain mostly restricted and unable to achieve their true potential, but Farida broke all barriers and relentlessly worked for women’s development. “We have lost a great member of our team,” said Lal Jan, the technical advisor of the organisation.

To increase women’s involvement in the social and economic sphere, a few educated and aspiring women, including Farida who was still in school at that time, established SAWERA in 2004. The NGO works for the rights of women and children’s rights in the tribal belt.

Farida had three sisters and four brothers and she was the second eldest. She belonged to a poor family that had no personal enmity, Lal Jan said.

In an interview for The Express Tribune published in September 2011, Farida had said: “The government is oblivious to the general attitude of tribesmen towards women and the extent of inequality in our patriarchal society. This pushed us to start a struggle for their empowerment.”

The sisters faced tough resistance when they told their family about the path they had chosen for themselves. “We told our parents that we would work in accordance with our religious and cultural traditions, assuring them that we would never let the family honour suffer because of our line of work. Finally, they agreed,” Noor had said.

Syed Afzal Shinwari, project coordinator in Community Appraisal and Motivation Program (CAMP), said that SAWERA started small but is now an influential organisation. “Because of this brutal act, women in Fata will be discouraged to work and development will come to a halt,” he said.

Condemnation

“Both government and security agencies will be sleeping and people like Farida, Zartif Khan, Khan Habib Afridi and Mukarram Khan Atif will be mercilessly killed. We, the participants of civil society organisations in Peshawar, strongly condemn this tragic death and vow to raise our voice against this tyranny and brutality at the hands of anti-state elements who have been given a free hand to kill people from the civil society,” civil society group Strengthening Participatory Organisaion said in a statement.

The End Violence Against Women/Girl alliance in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Fata also condemned the murder.

Farida’s struggle and efforts towards the empowerment of tribal women will never be forgotten.

Edited by Zehra Abid

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Reader Comments (38)

  • PakPunjabi
    Jul 5, 2012 - 12:45AM

    Allah punish these savages!

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  • Danish
    Jul 5, 2012 - 1:46AM

    May Almighty keep your soul in the gardens that have been promised. May Almighty give patience to the grieved family members. Aameen.

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  • Usman
    Jul 5, 2012 - 6:29AM

    Along with her, a part of Pakistan’s soul also died.Recommend

  • Jul 5, 2012 - 9:14AM

    really miss her she was gr8 woman

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  • Amirzada Afridi
    Jul 5, 2012 - 11:15AM

    Khyber Agency: Dear Asad Zia i had already wrote this story but Tribal Journalists is very poor than peshawar ?

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  • Shakeela Khan
    Jul 5, 2012 - 11:27AM

    Ms. Farida Afridi (Shaheed) worked as manager admin & human resource at SAWERA organization of Khyber Agency. I am fortunate of meeting her several times. Indeed it is very painful for me to write “was” for her. She is the founding member of SAWERA. She was a very brave, active, positive and talented girl having the determination of bringing a positive change in the attitudes of FATA people towards women rights and women empowerment.

    Ms. Afridi was a ray of hope for FATA women

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  • Charnushah
    Jul 5, 2012 - 11:31AM

    RIP.It is so tragic. It seems that with the arrival of these beasts called Taliban we Pakhtuns have also forgot our glorious traditions of Pakhtoonwali as well. So sad

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  • Asad Zia
    Jul 5, 2012 - 1:21PM

    @Amirzada Afridi:
    Dear Bro,,, you are brilliant because you work in a very hard area.

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  • wazir
    Jul 5, 2012 - 1:42PM

    @Charnushah:
    you are absolutely right..we speculate about the taliban but who are these people really? no sane Pakhtun would do this back in the day..it was totally against the norms….we need to revive what we had or we will lose all.

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  • Shakeela Khan
    Jul 5, 2012 - 1:46PM

    Ms. Farida Afridi (Shaheed) worked as manager admin & human resource at SAWERA of Khyber Agency. She was the founding member of the organization. Indeed it is very painful for me to write her in past tense. I am fortunate of meeting her several times. She was really a very brave, courageous, strong, energetic, ambitious and talented girl of Khyber agency. She was committed to bring a positive change in the attitudes of FATA people towards women rights and women empowerment. She was always ready to accept the challenges.

    Ms. Afridi was a ray of hope and an example of bravery and courage for all the women and especially of FATA. Her sudden and brutal killing is indeed a great loss for us and a discouragement for all those who worked for the development and empowerment of the marginalized people especially women.

    Here I strongly condemn her tragic death and demand the state to arrest the culprits and give them an exemplary punishment against this merciless and cruel act.Recommend

  • Bon
    Jul 5, 2012 - 2:59PM

    Such a sad story – Pahkuns are hospitable people. We treat our women with respect. Lord I pray , end this now. End this war !!!Recommend

  • amjad khattak
    Jul 5, 2012 - 7:17PM

    sad day for the state of pakistan and pahktun nation. these torch bearers were the true force that was fighting against the all destructive terrorism. instead helping them govt and army is busy with military power game. if true leaders were there these things would not take place.

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  • Sunil
    Jul 5, 2012 - 7:50PM

    look at the comment from Bon “Such a sad story – Pahkuns are hospitable people. We treat our women with respect. Lord I pray , end this now. End this war !!!”

    ha ha ha ha….

    you think the war is responsible for her killing??? lol ….. Recommend

  • Hafeez
    Jul 5, 2012 - 7:55PM

    The only way to encourage such women/men working for upliftment of lives in dangerous areas is for the government to bestow some medal of honor and money to the family. Such workers are our assets.

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  • Mj
    Jul 5, 2012 - 9:48PM

    Another victim of irrational, violent, and misogynistic mindset. Such a tragedy.

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  • Ishtiaq Afridi
    Jul 5, 2012 - 11:59PM

    RIP Farida!! Such people are rare indeed. She may not be with us anymore but she inspired many who would carry forward her mission and whoever committed this crime should note that change will come to FATA sooner or later IA.

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  • Mwaqar
    Jul 6, 2012 - 9:35AM

    * Salute to such a brave girl,shame on those who killed this innocent person,shame on Pakistani politicians,govt,security agencies and so called religious leaders who don’t protest against such crimes.*

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  • Jul 6, 2012 - 1:39PM

    Farida killing is condemnable n strongest worlds. But where is state & state machinery? How long the govt. executives & leaders will give ceremonial & cosmetic statements ?

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  • david thomas
    Jul 7, 2012 - 5:16PM

    Shame on them, small little fools who did this. I thought men had self respect and honour, but no, some are easily scared like cockroaches.

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  • Dana
    Jul 8, 2012 - 1:58AM

    Really is condemnable? I don’t see the society going bat crazy about protecting the females or the individual like in all the civilized societies, her death will just be dust in the wind. Just another person killed for ridiculous reasons, it will go on as long the society accepts this. And yeah you can say she went to Allah and so on and so forth nothing will change the fact she was murdered for all the wrong reasons. Nice job Pakistan, keep it classy, like always.

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  • Sagman Jones
    Jul 8, 2012 - 3:54AM

    Sounds like a pretty good plan to me dude. Wow.
    Top-Anon.tk

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  • Ninahchamorrita
    Jul 8, 2012 - 7:27AM

    “Beneath this mask there is more than flesh. Beneath this mask there is an idea, Mr. Creedy, and ideas are bulletproof.” – V For Vendetta

    Her killers think they have silenced her, but the joke's on them. By shooting her down they made her voice louder than it has ever been before. Their bullets have guaranteed her influence will reach farther than their worst conceivable fears. You shouldn't lose hope over this, or desire to continue the work she started. These murderers can go on and celebrate the battle they won, but in the end they have lost the war.
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  • Aena
    Jul 8, 2012 - 9:25AM

    Condemning the cold blooded murderers is not enough. You must make a representation to the government and ask them to investigate-capture-and put these heinous devils on trial. Make sure you make large group to make a representation. Goodness of Farida will never be forgotten.

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  • Aena
    Jul 8, 2012 - 9:45AM

    Bon is honorable and speaks the truth. You Sunil are making judgmental calls. War is waged upon everyone who does not accept control and intimidation from the radical terrorists. Killing Farida was a cowardly act. Terrorists are not human beings. Terrorists are devils.

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  • Aena
    Jul 8, 2012 - 9:51AM

    Why do you say “Nice job Pakistan, keep it classy, like always”? Are you not aware that terrorists are waging war on Pakistan and that Pakistan is forced to defend the government and the people of Pakistan? Are you blaming the Pakistan Government or the radical terrorists??

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  • Locke
    Jul 8, 2012 - 10:41AM

    Pakistan. What have you become? How much more corruption and despair is going to grip you before you implode?

    These savages are the face of your country. My condolences to not only the family of Farida, but the voices that got pushed further back into frigid silence due to this vicious oppression.

    It’s so easy to sit in safe countries and judge. The good people of the country have this as a reality to deal with. I’m pretty sure any of us would be the “silent majority” if this were the consequence.

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  • saif
    Jul 8, 2012 - 12:06PM

    Because thats what these extremists are … scared little impotent men that get off berating and taking their anger out on women …. heaven forbid a woman should try and make something of herself …

    Pakistan really needs to do some soul searching, man up, and kick these islamo-fascists backsides’ to the curb …

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  • Jul 8, 2012 - 10:13PM

    I strongly condemned the brutal killing of an innocent and powerless woman.
    Allah bless her soul and give the strength to those relative to bear this irreparable loss of the deceased.Recommend

  • SumneNeeve
    Jul 8, 2012 - 11:53PM

    Who are these folks who are condemning this murder? The unknown, unseen “Silent majority”? Someone once said, “Silent majority” is like the Himalayan Yeti. Apparently it exists, no one has seen it.

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  • aena
    Jul 9, 2012 - 10:53AM

    @SumneNeeve:
    Condemning the murder of an innocent woman is not enough, we demand that the Pakistan Government keep the murder case open, investigate, capture the murderers, arrest them and put them on trial. We want justice. We want equal justice for all human beings.

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  • Robina Rehman
    Jul 9, 2012 - 11:36AM

    Bravo for writing this story,but I was wondering….. Will the untold be revealed someday???? or this will prove to be one more oblivious story out of the lot happening around us.Will anyone gather courage to unveil the known culprit behind the veil.Asad pls make a good follow up story.

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  • Kakar
    Jul 9, 2012 - 2:33PM

    we strongly condemn this brutal act.. this is against Pshtunwali. The culprits are infact the enemies of Pashtun and they are not Pashtuns…

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  • Asad Zia
    Jul 10, 2012 - 5:44PM

    Yes, I will doing, Robina. thank u.

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  • Imran
    Jul 11, 2012 - 10:41AM

    May Bless her and comfort her soul in Paradise. We strongly condemn such brutal actions.

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  • Shah Khalid
    Jul 12, 2012 - 10:04PM

    Inna Lillah i wa Inna Ilaihi Rajioon.. May Allah give Farida’s soul eternal peace.

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  • Maurice
    Jul 13, 2012 - 3:43AM

    I wish her a peaceful ascension….

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  • Lupo
    Jul 13, 2012 - 6:42AM

    Lots of talk here. Condemn her killers. Oh Pakistanis love to talk. But how many are on the streets marching now? They won’t march for Farida. But they will march and shout when drone strikes kill those who would kill women like Farida.

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  • Umer Farooq,
    Jul 15, 2012 - 2:45PM

    The story stands in TOP TEN of the week..gr8 job Asad

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