Imrana Saghar, a lawyer and journalist in Pakistan, has used both professions to fight for minority rights and to free women in her country, sometimes risking her own safety.
Imrana Saghar has been a reporter at the Daily Express for seven years and reports on government institutions in Pakistan. She has studied law and holds master’s degrees in political science and Urdu literature. She is also a practicing lawyer.
Global Journalist: What difficulties do Pakistani reporters encounter?
Imrana Saghar: Journalism in Pakistan is a varying situation. Punjab is a peaceful area. There, journalism is calm and peaceful, but in cities like Karachi, Fata and other northern areas, there are the NATO attacks and other terrorist attacks. There are a huge number of attacks. Reporting in those areas is very dangerous.
GJ: Why did you become a journalist after studying law, political science and literature?
Saghar: I always wanted to be a journalist; it is in my birthright (laughs). When I grew up, I watched an Urdu show about a journalist and I thought, I want to be just like her! My father was a columnist also, and my mother encouraged us to study anything we’d like. She supported our independent rights.
Global Journalist: As a journalist, you work a lot with minorities and women in Pakistan?
Saghar: I have worked a lot with minorities, the social and economic system, youth affairs, women and children, crimes against women, women trafficking and other social issues.
GJ: How has your reporting made a difference?
Saghar: In 2006 I won an award for freeing a girl who was imprisoned by her parents. She wanted to marry someone of her own likeness, but they had promised her to a cousin.
When she refused to marry him, they chained her in a room and didn’t give her food or water. I heard about this and went to visit the house, pretending to be a health worker. I could hear her cries from another room, and I asked to go back and see her. I went to the house and investigated for two months before I brought the case to court, and the girl got to speak out against her parents.
Then, after she was freed, I wrote the article. I still talk with the girl today.
By Alex Baumhardt.