Meet Justice Ayesha Malik – first woman to be Supreme Court judge in 74 years

Justice Ayesha Malik has been a Lahore High Court judge since the 27th of March, 2012.

Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed nominated Justice Ayesha Malik’s name to become the first Pakistani woman to be elevated to the Supreme Court. Recent reports reveal that a judicial commission session has been summoned on the 9th of September to officiate her appointment. She is expected to replace Justice Mushir Alam, who will retire on the 17th of August.

Women Judges in Pakistan

A Human Rights Commission of Pakistan revealed:

Pakistan is the only country in South Asia not to appoint a woman judge in the Supreme Court. Only 5.3% of the country’s judges are women. The number is the lowest in South Asia.

According to details, the first Pakistani woman judge was appointed in 1974. Her name was Khalida Rashid Khan; she began her career as an anti-corruption judge and was later elevated to the high court in 1994 – but never to the Supreme Court.

Details about Justice Ayesha Malik

Justice Ayesha Malik has been a Lahore High Court judge since the 27th of March, 2012. She did her BCom from the Government College of Commerce & Economics, Karachi, and studied law at Lahore’s Pakistan College of Law. Justice Malik then completed her LLM from Harvard Law School, where she was named London H Gammon Fellow 1999-1999.

Following this, she became the mother of three children. Justice Malik is known for fighting pro bono cases for NGOs, working on poverty alleviation, microfinance, and skills training programs.

However, she rose to fame when she authored the landmark verdict banning two-finger and hymen tests of rape survivors in Punjab. Due to her efforts, the court ruled the tests as ‘illegal and unconstitutional’.

The 30-page verdict on the matter read:

Virginity testing is highly invasive, having no scientific or medical requirement, yet carried out in the name of medical protocols in sexual violence cases. The humiliating practice is used to cast suspicion on the victim, as opposed to focusing on the accused and the incident of sexual violence.

The verdict further read:

These tests are a blatant violation of the dignity of a woman. The conclusion drawn from these tests about a woman’s sexual history and character directly attacks her dignity. It leads to adverse effects on the social and cultural standing of a victim.

The verdict concluded by stating:

Cases should be investigated based on whether the accused person raped the survivor or not. If the victim is found not to be a virgin, it cannot and does not suggest that she was not raped or sexually abused. This shifts the focus of the case to the virginity status of the survivor. The victim’s sexual behavior is totally irrelevant as even the most promiscuous victim does not deserve to be raped, nor should the incident of sexual violence be decided based on a virginity test.

Since Justice Ayesha Malik is responsible for this landmark verdict, authorities expect her to move even more mountains in her career as a Supreme Court Judge.

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