Lucy Ferriss

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I've called this blog "Travelin' Thoughts" in the past, because I kept it mostly as a journal to record impressions of new places and cultures. But in a way, it's still a place for traveling thoughts--ideas that move through and past me, and out into the world. Some of these are literary, some just about life. It's a good place to open up the conversation, and I welcome your thoughts and comments.

Interview with Hina Jilani

March 16, 2015

April 10, 2012 -- What an honor to spend a half-hour with Hina Jilani. We talked about honor killings as rare but cutting across culture, class, tribe. She did not see the divide that the Pashtun guy I met had insisted on, between liberal and conservative Pashtun. She spoke of liberal masks among Pakistanis looking for acceptance in a particular class or community, with not much changed underneath. Referred repeatedly to cases as being complicated, unique. Women under threat often have not learned to live outside of family. She and her group have succeeded in having honor killings re-classified as aggravated homicide rather than less serious offense; as a result, young men are less likely to assert bragging rights for this violence. But there persists a real problem with radicalized young men turning to violence and committing honor crimes. Impression in West that this problem is tied to poor or tribal peoples is wrong, but it is tied to patriarchy and anxiety.

Her office is above the First Woman's Bank, up 2 long flights of stairs, then a tiny reception counter and several men sitting at long tables in a corridor lined with folders titled "AGHS Legal Aid." then the waiting area I saw in the Dastak film, with two facing semicircular couched with young women and several babies. eyeshadow and I are led into a conference room, then out again and into Ms Jilani's office. She wore a lovely pink print shalwar and chiffon dupatta. Very calm, exuded wisdom and patience. She agreed that the most common family reaction to a girl like Afia would be to cut her off completely. She saw no difference between Pashtuns & other ethnic groups in terms of their reaction.

She would like Westerners to understand better what action groups within Pakistan are doing for themselves. Her group works closely with Shirkat Gah; there's a great deal of cohesion in the Pakistani women's rights movement.

What about mothers? I asked. And she said they are psychologically supportive, but usually powerless.

(Photo from Dawn.)

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