Asma Jilani Jahangir
Human Rights 'Hero Profile' submitted by Realizing Rights
Human Rights Commission of Pakistan
Arrested with other opponents of Pakistan's General Musharraf in November 2007, Asma Jahangir, head of the country's human-rights commission and a UN special envoy, has spent decades defending Christians and Muslims sentenced to death under harsh and capricious blasphemy laws. She shelters women whose families want to murder them -- because they deserted cruel husbands. She investigates the fate of prisoners who vanish in police custody, and battles for their release. "People aren't willing to believe that these injustices happen in our society," says Jahangir, who in the mid-1980's led the advocacy efforts to overturn a court's sentence against a blind woman who was gang-raped and then charged with adultery.
"Eventually things will have to get better," she says. "It will be the people themselves who will bring about the change in society because they have had to struggle to fend for themselves at every level."
Standing up for the principles of the Universal Declaration
Universal Declaration of Human Rights emphasizes the fundamental importance of personal liberty and security. Article 4 bans slavery in all forms. Article 5 bans torture, without exception, by affirming no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Articles 6-11 of the Declaration affirm the rights to privacy, to equal protection under the law, to the legal presumption of innocence, and to fair trials.