In Honor of Asma Jahangir

March, 2018

Source images:

Front: (1) Asma Jahangir’s portrait. (2) Lahore Fort built in 11th century in Punjab province, Pakistan, Asma’s birthplace. The fortress is a unique structure that was influenced by both Islamic and Hindu architecture. (3) Pakistani banknotes.

Back: (1) Asma Jahangir’s funeral – a display of women’s resistance. Countless women participated at the Janaza, an Islamic funeral ritual, and prayed side by side with men, breaking the patriarchal/orthodox funeral traditions. There were thousands of men and women who attended the funeral to bid farewell including many from the Sikh, Christian, Sunni, Shia and Ahmadi communities. (2) Pakistani banknotes.

Asma Jahangir was a prominent human rights lawyer and social activist who worked tirelessly all her life defending the rights of many marginalized groups including women, religious/ethnic minorities, survivors of sexual assault, and children. Despite being imprisoned, threatened by the country’s militant religious right, intimidated by the military and those in power, she continued her fight for democracy, always speaking the truth. Asma co-founded and chaired the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.  

In 1980 Asma and her sister Hina Jilani, along with few other activists/lawyers, formed the first law firm established by women in Pakistan. They also formed Women’s Action Forum (WAF), a group campaigning against Pakistan’s discriminatory legislation.

Her contributions to human rights go beyond Pakistan. She was appointed by the UN to serve as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief and as a Trustee at the International Crisis Group. In 2016, she served as the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran, remaining until her death in February 11, 2018. She is the recipient of many human rights awards.

Foreign Exchange incorporates the emblems taken from banknotes and utilizes images from news media to highlight voices of resistance from countries that have been impacted by U.S. national interests. The banknotes feature influential figures and monumental events that draw attention to socio-political tensions existing both within a country’s borders and beyond. Foreign Exchange offers an alternative platform to archive and share cultural currencies.