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

At 25, Farida Afridi relentlessly struggled for the rights of women and children.


Asad Zia July 04, 2012

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

COMMENTS (38)

Umer Farooq, | 8 years ago | Reply

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

Lupo | 8 years ago | Reply

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.

VIEW MORE COMMENTS
Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ