Three years ago, Afridi created SAWERA, or the Society for Appraisal and Woman Empowerment in Rural Areas. She gave lectures and provided information on women’s rights. But in the process, she caught the attention of some in northwest Pakistan who didn’t like her message. There were at least a dozen warnings. Then came the attack.
The men on the motorcycles opened fire. Afridi was hit five times in the head and chest areas. The motorcyclists sped off. So far no one has claimed responsibility for the killing. Members of Afridi’s family and their larger tribe believe militants with links to both al-Qaida and the Pakistani Taliban were responsible.
This area of northwest Pakistan does not come under the jurisdiction of the federal government or its constitution. What that means is that there are no Pakistani police. It’s a human-rights-free and democracy-free zone. Afridi’s killing certainly isn’t the first of its kind in northwest Pakistan. Other women have been killed in recent years for pursuing the same kind of activities. Last year, a man who worked for the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan was also killed in the same town where Afridi lived.
Still, despite the dangers, this work continues in northwest Pakistan.