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Shaheena Waqar

Quite often, the prison system is perceived as a black hole where those deemed “undesirable” by the legal system are placed in and disappear from the public consciousness. This is especially prevalent when it comes to female prisoners in a country like Pakistan, where in addition to prisons not having the funding nor the appropriate management to actually rehabilitate prisoners and render them able to be integrated into society once they are released. The state of Pakistan’s prisons right now is that the capacity of the prisons is 56,363 prisoners but they are housing 78,160 prisoners, displaying a callous lack of attention to these prisoners. Shaheena Waqar decided to change this deplorable state of affairs.
Born in Risalpur, Shaheena Waqar established an organisation known as the Women Aid Trust, along with two other friends, in 1997. The aim of the organization set up by Waqar is to facilitate the rehabilitation of female prisoners. They would go around from prison to prison to teach the female prisoners life skills along with educating them so that once they are out in the world, they are able to take care of themselves. Through this organisation, she has been able to help women in prisons by teaching them different skills and educating them so they may be able to sustain themselves once they return to the real world. She believes that this exercise helps build a sense of community amongst these women, who have been convicted for petty crime, thrown away in prison and now feel dejected and lost. Through incorporating this into her project, she has also drawn attention to the regulation of the mental health of female prisoners, an aspect of their identities that is commonly dismissed as being unimportant. By providing them computer classes, sewing centres and recreational institutes, Waqar is able to produce in them the motivation they need to rebuild their lives.
“They are also a part of a community and should feel that people around them care for them. The idea behind sending someone to prison is that they learn that their actions were not alright and to help them improve themselves so that when are out, they can adjust into the society. That’s why it is important to help them.” said Shaheena while speaking to The News International.