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Tuesday 20th March 2018

Pakistani Woman Activist Fearing For Her Life Flees for the US


7Dnews London

Fri, 20 Sep 2019 11:15 GMT

Prominent Pakistani human rights activist, Gulalai Ismail, has fled to the US, after months in hiding, AFP reported on Friday September 20th.

Ismail's campaigns to empower Pakistani girls have won her international awards and recognition as one of her country's foremost activists, but her fortunes changed when she spoke out against sexual violence, and disappearances allegedly carried out by the army in northwestern Pakistan, AFP reported.

After four months on the run, Ismail, 33, succeeded in eluding a nationwide hunt for her, and has turned up in the US, where she is seeking asylum, AFP reported.

The BBC quoted Ismail, who is accused of “anti-state activities” and “inciting violence,” as saying to the New York Times, "the last few months have been awful. I have been threatened, harassed, and I am lucky to be alive.”

She declined to reveal how she left the country, given she was under a travel ban, but told The New York Times: "I didn't fly out of an airport.

"If I had ended up in prison and tortured for many years, my voice would have been silenced", she said, and that she would be more effective abroad to continue to speak out.

She has been a vocal human rights advocate since she was 16 years old, and she started an NGO called Aware Girls to educate them about their rights, and then went on to expand her work to include combat of radicalisation, as well as human rights abuses against women and girls.