Pakistan swore in Ayesha Malik as its first female Supreme Court judge in Islamabad on Jan. 24.
Malik took the oath at a ceremony broadcast live by state media, which lawyers and activists hail as “historic.”
“It’s a huge step forward. It is history in the making for Pakistan’s judiciary,” lawyer and women’s rights activist Nighat Dad told AFP News.
Pakistan was the only South Asian country to have never had a female Supreme Court judge, according to Human Rights Watch.
Malik now sits on a bench with 16 other male colleagues in a judiciary that has been historically conservative and male-dominated.
Senator Sherry Rehman posted a photo of Malik at the oath-taking ceremony, writing in the caption that it was “a picture full of promise and hope for the wonderful, talented, bright, courageous young women of Pakistan.”
Prime Minister Imran Khan congratulated Malik on Twitter, saying, “I wish her all the best.”
However, some lawyers and judges opposed Malik’s appointment on the grounds that it violated the principle of seniority.
Malik, 55, was the fourth most senior judge of the Lahore High Court before her promotion.
Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed, who administered the oath to Malik, said that she “deserved” to become a Supreme Court judge, VOA News reported.
Malik studied at the Pakistan College of Law and Harvard University. She served as the high court judge in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore for the last two decades.
Last year, Malik outlawed so-called virginity tests on sexual assault survivors in Punjab, declaring the practice as “humiliating” with “no forensic value.”
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