The Murder of Farida Afridi, Women's Rights Advocate in Khyber Agency & FATA, Pakistan

Assassination of Farida Afridi

On Friday 6th July, we learnt that Farida Afridi, co-founder of SAWERA, Safeworld Field Partner in Pakistan, had been brutally murdered.

According to news sources, Farida was shot by militants while on her way to work.

Discovering SAWERA

In September last year, our Field Partners Manager, Jennifer Timmons, wrote me an email about an article she had come across called: 'Positive Pakistanis: Sister Act'.

The sisters, Noorzia and Farida Afridi, had set up an NGO in one of the most conservative and patriarchal regions of Pakistan, in an isolated, mountainous, tribal area less than 50 miles from the border with Afghanistan.

We were so impressed with the two young women and their work, that we took the unusual step of writing to them to ask if they would be interested in becoming a Field Partner of Safeworld.

What struck us was their youth and sense of hope, energy and optimism, their sensitivity to local cultural issues, and the obvious respect and admiration shown to them by many in the local community.

By December, we were able to profile SAWERA (Society for Appraisal & Women Empowerment in Rural Areas) on the new Field Partners section of our website, with the information they had sent us.

Silence

Our agreement with our Field Partners is that they send us quarterly updates for publication, to highlight their work.

When the April updates were due, we had no word from SAWERA. By May, I began to grow alarmed.

I knew there had been some brutal incidents and murders around Peshawar, in recent months. Moreover, FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Area) is not bound by Pakistani laws, those working there do not have the rights guaranteed to Pakistani citizens by the Constitution.

Noorzia's words, from that first article Jen had found, echoed in my mind and haunted me.

“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,”

The sisters were undaunted by concerns for their safety. Their determination to empower the women in their region overcame any doubts.

“The government is oblivious of 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,” Farida told the Express Tribune.

Working for Peace

At the end of May, I asked a contact in Pakistan to phone them and check on their safety.  He was reassured that they were absolutely fine and safe, working with SAWERA.

They subsequently submitted their first update to us a couple of days later When we read their update, we were even more in awe of their work.

Women Promote Peace and Security in Khyber Province and Khyber Agen... was published on 13th June.

SAWERA had received funding to train women in conflict resolution and peace building, providing women with awareness on political and social rights in the light of Islam and the Constitution of Pakistan. They were getting a good response and large attendance. In addition, SAWERA had partnered with CARE International to provide humanitarian assistance so that flood-affected families could start to restore their lives.

The organisation was growing and flourishing.

Unfounded Concerns?

I began to think, and hope, that my own concerns were unfounded. That the region was indeed moving forwards and perhaps the situation was over-dramatised by the media.

What I didn't know, was that at around the time we published their update, Farida had started to receive threats relating to her work, telling a journalist from the Pakistan Times, 'I could even be killed in Peshwar'.

Farida's Name Lives On

News of Farida's death has shaken us to the core.

We feel close to our Field Partners. Strong bonds grow via the internet, across oceans, deserts and mountains. We feel a responsibility towards them. They are like family.

It is hard to grasp the challenges that women such as Farida face every day, and their tremendous courage. When they say they are 'OK and fine', it is not the same as when I say it.

But for sure their courage motivates and inspires us continuously. And, tragedies like this even more so.

We send our deepest condolences to Farida's family, and we are looking for ways in which we can honour Farida's name and work.

Views: 751

Tags: Afridi, Agency, FATA, Farida, Khyber, Pakistan, SAWERA, murder, rights, women's

Comment

You need to be a member of Peace and Collaborative Development Network to add comments!

Join Peace and Collaborative Development Network

Comment by Grace on July 16, 2012 at 8:48am

 I am impressed by their commitments. It is indeed a deep loss and at such a tender age. I commiserate with the family and wish them strengthen to bear her loss! 

Comment by Christine Crowstaff on July 10, 2012 at 11:57am

I was just now reading that, Gopi:

http://www.apwld.org/act-now/assassination-plot-against-pakistani-w...

Very alarming indeed.

Comment by GOPI KANTA GHOSH on July 10, 2012 at 9:34am

Pathetic...it is reported that Asma Jahangir is next target

Comment by Titus Oyeyemi on July 9, 2012 at 9:16am

This is indeed very pathetic!

Comment by Arif Khalil on July 9, 2012 at 5:25am

This has saddened the Pakistani Civil Society at large. No words to whom to blame and no words to cope with the sympathy she deserves. She needed all that protection before she was murdered brutally. Alas! The CSO in Pakistan have to answer to number of institutions none of those are always there to help them out but to test their nerves.

Why this has been a thankless job?

Comment by Ruairi Nolan on July 9, 2012 at 4:46am

What terribly sad news. Very best wishes to her family.

Sponsored Link

Please Pay What You Can to Support PCDN

Please consider Paying What You Can to help PCDN grow. We encourage you to consider any amount from $1 and up. Read the SUPPORT page prior to making a payment to see PCDN's impact and how your payment will help.

Sponsored Link

Translate This Page



PCDN NETWORK TWITTER FEED

PCDN Guidelines and Share Pages

By using this site you're agreeing to the terms of use as outlined in the community guidelines (in particular PCDN is an open network indexed by Google and users should review the privacy options). Please note individual requests for funding or jobs are NOT permitted on the network.

Click BELOW to share site resources Bookmark and Share
or Share on LINKEDIN


FOLLOW PCDN on TWITTER, FACEBOOK or GOOGLE+

Google+

 

Latest Activity

Tim Magee posted an event
5 minutes ago
Tim Magee updated an event
Thumbnail

Online Learning: Designing and Funding Nonprofit Projects at Worldwide: Online Venue

May 6, 2014 to June 30, 2014
13 minutes ago
Tim Magee updated an event
Thumbnail

Climate Smart Agriculture Online Learning Course at Global - Online Venue

May 6, 2014 to June 30, 2014
14 minutes ago
Tim Magee updated an event
Thumbnail

Integrating DRR, Community-Based Adaptation & Development—Online Courses at Worldwide - Online Venue

May 6, 2014 to June 30, 2014
14 minutes ago
Tim Magee updated an event
Thumbnail

Community-Based Adaptation to Climate Change—Online Courses at Worldwide - Online Venue

May 6, 2014 to June 30, 2014
15 minutes ago
Jeanne Paradis posted an event

InterAction’s Forum 2014 at Walter E. Washington Convention Center

June 10, 2014 at 5:30pm to June 13, 2014 at 3:15pm
55 minutes ago
Profile IconJeanne Paradis, Dr Vivienne Matthies-Boon, Rob Sancton and 10 more joined Peace and Collaborative Development Network
1 hour ago
fanny tittel liked Jennifer Lentfer's blog post How much does the US government spend on global development? (And 4 other things you might not know)
1 hour ago

© 2014   Created by Craig Zelizer.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service