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Webpage Editor: Ingrid H. Shafer, Ph.D.
e-mail address:
Posted 10 April 1999
Last revised 22 April 2002
Web-edition copyright © 1999-2002 Ingrid H. Shafer


P.O. Box 17202, 
Louisville, Kentucky 40217, U.S.A.


March 28,   2002

Dear Members and Friends of the INRFVVP,

        I hope this finds you in the best of health and spirit.  I am writing to you to give you an update on the activities of the INRFVVP and to seek your continuing support for our work which has, since September 11, 2002, become even more critical than before. Any successful master thesis requires a lot list of resources to prove its authenticity. We can provide that easily.

        Today more attention is focused on Islam than perhaps at any other point in modern history.  Undoubtedly, the events which took place in the United States on September 11, 2002, is the immediate cause for this attention. The hijackers who flew commercial planes into the World Trade Centers in New York, and the Pentagon in Washington D.C. - symbols of American economic and military might - were identified by U.S. intelligence agencies as Muslim and Arab. This led to an intense reaction not only against the perpetrators of the gruesome crimes, but also against Islam and Muslims /Arabs at large.

        The massive destruction of life and property which took place as a result of the criminal assaults shocked the world and was condemned strongly by the global community. Included in this community were a large number of Muslims who came from all walks of life ranging from leaders of Muslim countries to ordinary people. However, the crisis was perceived - and described - from the outset in terms which polarized the world into two absolutely opposed camps. The worldview which became dominant in the discourse of both American administration and media was symbolized by expressions such as “us versus them”, “either you are with us or you are against us”, “good versus evil.”  Dualistic thinking which permeated this discourse seemed, at times, to be cosmic in magnitude. It appeared as if the so called “clash of civilizations” between the “West” and “the world of Islam” posited by Samuel Huntington had indeed come to pass.

        However one interprets the fateful events of September 11, 2001, one thing is clear. The world changed forever on the day. There is now no going back to the situation which existed prior to this day. We cannot go back - we can only go forward. This poses a serious challenge both for (non-Muslim) Westerners and for Muslims. How and on what  basis are we going to create a new world-order in the aftermath of what happened on September 11, 2001?  Is it possible to “depolarize” the world and to build a bridge between “the West” and “the world of Islam”?

         While there are no easy or simple answers to the questions posed above, it is gratifying to note that in recent months so much media attention, particularly in the U.S.,  has been focused on the plight of Afghan women under Taliban rule and that the First Lady of the United States made this the subject of (the President’s) monthly radio address in November 2001.  It is the hope of human rights and women’s rights advocates and activists all over the world that after more than two decades of deep misery, hardship and oppression, Afghan women will be able to participate fully in the rebuilding of their lives and their country.  It is also my hope that while global attention is centred upon the terrible wrongs suffered by women in Afghanistan, the plight of large numbers of girls and women who are victims of gross violence and brutality in Pakistan will also be remembered. 

        Pakistan has been a frontline state since September 11 and, under the leadership of General Pervez Musharraf,  it has played a vital role as an ally of the United States in the war against terrorism.  No other Muslim leader in the world has spoken out so clearly, strongly or courageously against terrorism, both in the region and within Pakistan, as has General Musharraf.   The actions taken by his government in cracking down on terrorist organizations and activities is a major historic step for Pakistan.  However, much hard  and serious work remains to be done before the negative cultural factors which have promoted various kinds of violence in Pakistan can be transformed into positive ones. 

        President Musharraf and his government has issued many statements about improving the condition of girls and women, and taking concrete steps toward eliminating discrimination and violence against them. Unfortunately, however, the situation on the ground has not changed significantly.  The INRFVVP continues to receive stories of girls and women in all parts of Pakistan being victimized in a variety of ways. We recently posted a digest of crimes against girls and women covering the period between August and December 2001. Our data files continue to expand and we are now in the process of organizing the materials we have collected for publication.

        Since its start in 1999, the INRFVVP has come a long way.  It has become an internationally recognized organization mentioned in many publications and media events. It has become an important resource for parliamentarians and civic leaders,  researchers, human rights lawyers, media agencies and other concerned groups and individuals.  It continues to be a forum for those who want to raise consciousness about women’s issues - particularly those relating to violence – either through their personal testimony or through focused discussion of relevant matters.  Despite the fact that shortage of staff sometimes causes our listserv to become relatively inactive, the INRFVVP continues to provide services that no other organization in the world does.  The importance of our campaign against “honor” crimes is recognized, amongst others, by former Congressman Paul Findley in his recent book “Silent No More”: confronting America’s false images of Islam (Amana Publications, Maryland, 2001)

         Our hope this year is that we will be able  to do workshops in Pakistan.  The subject of these workshops would be “Mitigating Violence Against Girls and Women in Pakistan through Human Rights Education Based on Normative Islamic Teachings”. There is great demand for such workshops throughout the country, particularly at this time when Pakistani society is rethinking its past, present and future. There was never a time as good as now to bring about changes at the grass roots level in Pakistani society. Furthermore, if we are able to create a viable model of women’s empowerment through education in Pakistan we can also reach out to those progressive Muslims in other societies and communities that  desire to create a justice-and-compassion-based world free of extremism.

     I thank you for being Members and Friends of the INRFVVP and I look forward to hearing from you very soon.

      May all the blessings be yours.

      Wishing you all the best I remain,

      With cordial regards, 

      Riffat Hassan



She deserves a chance!

Anygirl . . . Everygirl

P.O. Box 17202, 
Louisville, Kentucky 40217, U.S.A.