Acquittal: How ‘Islamization’ galvanized Pakistan’s women’s movement


“Acquittal” by Shahid Nadeem (left) focuses on four women in a Pakistan prison each accused of a different injustice. The play was inspired by Shahid’s own imprisonment in the 80’s as young man, Broadway World writes.

“’Acquittal’ was written in 1987, while I was living in exile in London,” says Nadeem. “It has a specific reference to the early 1980s, when General Zia-ul-Haq had implemented blatant discriminatory ‘Islamic’ laws (called Hudood Ordinances), which proved to be detrimental to the interests of women and minority groups. These laws were used to punish women and caused gross miscarriages of justice. Zia’s anti-women ‘Islamization’ policies galvanized the women’s movement in Pakistan.”

Nadeem is an acclaimed Pakistani playwright well-known for his commitment to human rights, peace and social justice. He was imprisoned by various military regimes in Pakistan, and exiled for a period. Since his return to Pakistan in 1988, he has served as Executive Director of Ajoka Theatre. Nadeem was a Getty Research Institute/International Pen Fellow in 2001 and National Endowment for Democracy’s Reagan-Fascell Fellow in 2013-14.

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