Devotion and Defiance: My Fight for Justice for WomenDevotion and Defiance: My Fight for Justice for Women by Humaira Awais Shahid

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Humaira Awais Shahid had just finished her graduate work in literature when she met Ednan, the son of an influential Pakistani newspaper owner.  They married and eventually she was brought into the newspaper business to transform the “woman’s pages.”  When the opportunity came to take one of the reserved seats for women in her local Parliament she took the chance to do more of substance for women in her area.  Little did she know that the women of the reserved seats were supposed to be ornamental and not be insisting on writing laws.

She had three goals:

  1. To eliminate vani, the practice of giving women  in marriage or to be raped as repayment for a slight on family honor.
  2. To make it illegal to burn a person with acid
  3. To eliminate private moneylending which resulted often in violence when people could not repay the huge interest

The story covers the time until her five years in the legislature were finished.  The book ended fairly abruptly which made me want to know more about what she had done in the last few years.

She does talk about the poor women she wrote about in the papers but overall she seems to have a more positive outlook on women in Pakistan than we generally hear about in the West.  She is also full of praise for President Musharraf as a reformer which also doesn’t fit with stories we hear here.