Hina Khan is 17. Like Malala Yousafzai, she publicly speaks in favour of women’s education in her native Swat valley. Like Malala Yousafzai, she has receieved death threats. On 25 October, I blogged about her story over at the New Statesman:
Perhaps the most worrying aspect of this story is that the Khans have received absolutely no protection from the authorities. This is despite the fact that the Malala case powerfully highlighted how real the dangers are for women in these areas. If the state is not going to take action now, when the public mood is one of revulsion with extremism, will it ever do so?
I also interviewed Hina for the latest issue of Grazia magazine. The piece isn’t online, but here are some excerpts from our conversation.
What was your activism?
After we left Swat and came to Islamabad, I found out schools were closed. So I did a press conference where I spoke about the Taliban and another where I spoke about education. I also led a protest demanding education to be made available.
What kind of threats have you received?
They phoned my father and said, “Is Hina your daughter?” He said yes. They said, “okay, we’re watching her. What she said is not good. We won’t let her go. If she continues, you’ll find out what we can do. We’re watching you all the time. We’ve marked your house – you keep removing the marks. We’re watching you.”
We didn’t report his to the police because we didn’t think they’d actually act on it. But after they attacked Malala, we realised the danger was actual. We passed on the threats and went public about the threats. The police chief went on TV and said they would protect me but there’s been nothing from them. They haven’t phone us or acted on it.
How do you feel about what happened to Malala?
I pray for her. I’ve been lucky. I began speaking out before her but she was the one who was attacked. I’m praying for her and want her to come back to her own country. She raised her voice.
Are you scared?
I am afraid. I don’t go anywhere. I’ve taken time off school/college. We’ve just had Eid but we stayed at home – we didn’t visit friends or relatives. We didn’t even got out and do our Eid shopping. I’m frightened of going out. But we won’t stop working towards what we want – what is right.