ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed administers the oath to Justice Ayesha Malik at a ceremony held at the Supreme Court on Monday.—White Star
ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed administers the oath to Justice Ayesha Malik at a ceremony held at the Supreme Court on Monday.—White Star

ISLAMABAD: Justice Ayesha Malik was sworn in as first female judge of the Supreme Court on Monday, a landmark occasion in a nation where activists say the law is often wielded against women.

Justice Malik attended a ceremony in the capital where she now sits on the bench alongside 16 male colleagues at Pakistan’s highest court.

“I want to congratulate Justice Ayesha Malik on becoming the first woman judge of the Supreme Court,” Prime Minister Imran Khan said. “I wish her all the best,” he added on Twitter.

Lawyer and women rights activist Nighat Dad said Ms Malik’s promotion was “a huge step forward”. “It is history in the making for Pakistan’s judiciary,” she told AFP.

Justice Malik was educated at Harvard University and served as a high court judge in Lahore for the past two decades. She has been credited with rolling back patriarchal legal mores in her Punjab province jurisdiction.

Last year she outlawed a deeply invasive and medically discredited examination used to determine a woman’s level of sexual experience.

Justice Malik’s elevation to the apex court may clear the way for more women to enter the male-dominated judiciary of Pakistan, AFP reported.

The United States welcomed the move, calling it “an important and historic moment”. “Congratulations to Justice Ayesha Malik, the first woman to sit on the Supreme Court of Pakistan in the country’s 74-year history,” said a statement issued by the US Secretary of State’s Office of Global Women’s Issues, adds Anwar Iqbal from Washington.

“Her career and tenacity are models for women in Pakistan and beyond. Her appointment marks an important and historic moment for Pakistan. Well Done!” the statement added.

Published in Dawn, January 25th, 2022

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