Interrogating the Norms: Women Challenging Violence in an Adversarial State

This book discusses how the women’s movement in Pakistan started addressing/addresses violence against women. Chapter 1 is based largely on a narrative account of the Zia government, the underlying politics of Islamisation, the factors that led to the formation of Women’s Action Forum and the ways in which the overall political environment influenced its work. Chapter 2, which is more sharply focused on the history of the women’s movement, is more analytical and deals with the centrality of violence against women to the work of the women’s movement, even though the term itself is still not in use. The emphasis here is on the link between the so called Islamic laws and what was still referred to as ‘crimes against women’. It analyses the strategies adopted to challenge these laws, create public awareness on women’s issues and the growing realization for the need for alternative safe spaces for women, such as shelters. Chapter 3 speaks about different women’s organisations which, with the exception of Shirkat Gah and AGHS Legal Aid Centre, grew out of WAF in order to facilitate and deepen the work undertaken from the WAF platform or bear witness to WAF’s growing credibility among predominantly left or liberal groups.  

Shaheed, Farida and Neelam Hussain
Publisher and location: 
International Centre for Ethnic Studies and Shirkat Gah: Colombo, Sri Lanka