LONDON: Members of the Pakistani diaspora and rights activists in London gathered in Westminster on Saturday to hold a vigil for Noor Mukadam and other victims of femicide and gender-based violence in South Asia.
Scores of participants gathered near 10 Downing Street, holding posters that read ‘Female Lives Matter’, ‘No Violence, No Silence’ and chanting ‘Azadi’.
The event was organised by Progressive Voices, a women-led forum for social and political consciousness. Noor Zaheer, one of the founders of the organisation, led the call for the vigil.
“I am here today and have organised this protest because we cannot stay silent about the increasing incidents of violence in South Asia against women and girls. We have to raise our voice against this injustice, and for equality. That is how we will bring change,” Zaheer told journalists.
Pakistan govt assailed for not passing domestic violence bill
Urooj Asif, one of the speakers at the event, introduced two children, aged 10 and 11, who read out a poem which paid tribute to women.
“I am glad so many people positively answered our call for the protest. We are not politically affiliated, we are regular people who have had enough,” Asif said. “We are British Asians, from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and we want to tell our government at 10 Downing Street that they have to act. [They have to] talk to the Pakistan government and ask them to address the lawlessness and lack of accountability of those who kill their wives and daughters.”
Zoha Waseem, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Institute for Global City Policing at UCL, spoke about Noor Mukadam, Quratulain, Saima and other women who are victims of gender-based violence. “So many women are victims of violence but we [Pakistan] haven’t passed the domestic violence bill. The prime minister made some [controversial] statements some weeks ago. We want to raise our voice against this violence. We stand with the families of victims, and we want a better society.”
Published in Dawn, August 1st, 2021