Officials, musicians, actors and activists on stage in riveting play to raise awareness about violence against women

Founder Editor Tazeen Akhtar..

Islamabad, 20 November 2017: The internationally acclaimed documentary play SEVEN had its Pakistani premiere with a reading last night at the Swedish Ambassador’s Residence in Islamabad.

Readers on stage were Secretary, Ministry of Human Rights, Ms. Rabiya Javeri Agha; Chairman of the National Commission for Human Rights Pakistan, Chief Justice (R) Ali Nawaz Chowhan; engineer, mathematician and singer Ms. Momina Mustehsan; actress, model and activist Ms. Mariyam Nafees; lawyer, executive director and founder of Digital Rights Foundation Ms. Nighat Dad; TV, film and theater actor and writer Mr. Osman Khalid Butt and Ambassador of Sweden to Pakistan, Ms. Ingrid Johansson. The play was directed by Ms. Tülin Khalid Azim.

The purpose of the event was to raise awareness about the importance of access to justice for female victims of violence by promoting Pakistan’s existing legal services and framework on violence against women, such as the Federal Ministry of Human Rights’ toll-free helpline (1099) and legal advice to victims of violence and provincial laws such as the Punjab Protection of Women against violence Act.

“When we talk about access to justice, it is very important that we invest in the social capital of women. That means setting up norms and institutions and providing mentors to women to be able to get courage, and to be able to seek the right redress. What is wonderful about this play is that while I am from the government, there are participants here from the civil society, diplomatic corps and the youth. It is hoped that the kind of mentorship these readers provide will be inspirational to the women of Pakistan. Hopefully this message will be disseminated further to even larger numbers of people”, said Ms. Rabiya Javeri Agha.

The event was attended by approximately 150 people, including high-level officials, activists and dignitaries who graced the occasion with their presence.

The play will next be performed in Lahore. SEVEN on Tour aims to continue throughout Pakistan in 2018.

The Embassy of Sweden in Pakistan, The European Union Delegation to Pakistan, The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (UN Women) and the Potohar Organisation for Development Advocacy (PODA), in collaboration with the Swedish Institute, organized the event.

The play is produced by Hedda Krausz Sjögren and written in 2007 by seven playwrights: Paula Cizmar, Catherine Filloux, Gail Kriegel, Carol K. Mack, Ruth Margraff, Anna Deveare-Smith and Susan Yankowitz in collaboration with Vital Voices Global Partnership.

Seven is based on the real-life stories of seven women's rights activist from Nigeria, Afghanistan, Guatemala, Russia, Pakistan, Northern Ireland and Cambodia. By mixing decision makers such as politicians and government officials with actors, media profiles and activists to portray the seven women, the tour, now into its tenth year, has reached over 50 000 people in more than 38 countries. Over 700 men and women; politicians, one former president, media profiles, members of the European parliament, soccer stars, high ranking police officers and military officials, amongst others, have stepped on stage to lend their voice to these marginalized women.