Defender of battered wives, teenagers on death row and persecuted minorities, Asma Jilani Jahangir has been elected as Pakistan's first female president of the Supreme Court Bar Association.
Having got her first taste of the law by protesting the legality of her father's imprisonment by successive heads of state
(and winning - the Supreme Court ruled that Yahya Khan had usurped power illegally, and that her father's imprisonment was therefore illegal, Asma Jilani vs Government of Punjab 1972), Asma khala studied law and set up practice with two friends and her sister Hina Jilani, with whom she has now worked for 41 years.
Through her work in the courts, Asma khala has brought to prominence and fought against the absurdity of laws that punished rape victims unable to prove their rape and teenagers of minority religions accused of blasphemy. She has won admiration for her work, but also vilification. She has been threatened and her home broken into. Comparisons have been drawn to Burma's Aung San Suu Kyi. TIME Magazine named her one of Asia's heroes.
UNIFEM has awarded her and Hina khala the Millennium Prize. The most important acknowledgment of her work, however, has to be Asma khala's recent election to represent Pakistan's lawyers in upholding the rule of law and the course of justice. Carry on, Asma Jahangir.