Ayesha Malik, Pakistan’s first female Supreme Court judge has been sworn in the capital Islamabad. Ayesha Malik, who is 55 in age now sits on a bench with 16 other male colleagues in the Muslim-majority country’s top court. Her coming as a judge is a change of wave in Pakistan and a symbol of how women’s struggles over the past four decades have pushed back patriarchal structures and gender stereotypes. The Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed administered the oath on 24th January 2022 at the Supreme Court building in Islamabad. The ceremony was attended by the other judges as well. The retirement of Justice Mushir Alam left the seat vacant, out of the 17 judges appointed in the Supreme Court, Ayesha Malik was selected for this seat. With a vote of five to four, the Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP) had approved the nomination of Justice Ayesha Malik for her appointment as an SC judge. But her selection wasn’t easy as the Pakistani bar council went on strike and said the decision of her appointment was wrong.
Ayesha Malik completed her education at Harvard University and has been a part of the judicial system for almost about two decades. Her work has been dedicated to females and their struggle to end the patriarchal system and to challenge the patriarchal legal system as well. Her most famous verdict has been against a deeply invasive and medically discredited virginity test which was used on women who reported being raped or sexually assaulted. The test was seen as a way for investigating authorities to discredit victims by casting aspersion on their character. Lawyer and women’s rights activist Khadija Siddiqi after the Malik appointment stated “She has broken all barriers in the judicial system and it will allow other women in the system to move forward.” Further, “I hope this will lead to more women-centric decisions by the judiciary in the future.”