‘It’s not about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward.’ I have always admired this quote from the famous Hollywood movie; Rocky Balboa. However, I only now understood the significance behind it when I saw the impervious resolve of a girl, who has the entire world (at least the legal one), against her, but still stands her ground. Khadija Siddiqi is a true ‘fighter’. After her gruesome cross-examination at the hands of her accused’s lawyer, which stretched for nearly ten hours, the fighter opted to accompany those of us who had accompanied her at her hearing for support, to a few games of bowling. The fighter took the first turn. Slid the bowling ball hard, but missed all the pins.At first I thought the expression of frustration on her face was due to the missed shot. On her second turn, she dropped the ball like a child of six. She then smiled awkwardly and said: “Mera baazoo tabah kardiya hay us nain.” “He has destroyed my arm.” She continued to play after a short rest. A couple of rounds later, she seemed uncomfortable and in obvious pain. When asked whether she was fine, she replied: “Gardan main dard ho rahi hay, kandhon main bhi.” “My neck and shoulders hurt.” I was stunned. The thought hit me once again. This young girl, only twenty years of age, had suffered through 23 stab wounds, and almost had 200 stitches on her neck, shoulders, and back. The muscles of the stabbed areas, had been damaged, destroyed. Even after more than a year, there were still scars on her throat. I then truly realised the will power of this young girl, who had been visiting courts in search for justice. Since the 3rd of May, 2015, when the accused had attacked her, the system of this country has not weakened the will of the fighter. She is convinced that she will be given justice. She faced ridicule and harassment. Her character was called into question. She was threatened, and asked to compromise. She refused to stand down. She stood strong, and continues to do so. The opposing side fears the delivery of justice to such an extent that they even challenged a notification by the Honourable Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court to expedite the trial process. On 13th and 14th of July, 2017, the fighter was asked to step up to the rostrum to be cross-examined, while nearly fifty male lawyers brought in by the accused’s legal team stood by. She was subjected to vulgar questions, scandalous remarks, insulting jokes and innuendos. They presented one picture after another, until the Judge lost his patience and ordered them to cease such actions. It seemed as if they viewed Khadija as an object, not as a human being. The opposing side had entered the court with the determination to fail the fighter’s will power. They went to an all new low, forgetting that she was a girl belonging to a conservative family, and that she was a victim. Khadija faced ridicule and harassment in the courtroom. Her character was called into question. She was threatened and asked to compromise. She refused to stand down. She stood strong, and continues to do so I stood there in awe of her strength. When faced with all these questions, she remained composed. The fighter was fighting the most beautiful of fights. At last, the opposing side was all out of its dirty tricks. The cross-examination ended, and the fighter won the battle. There are many hearings still to go. There are many witnesses still to come. I do not care what the end decision of the trial is. Khadija and her 6 year old sister, Sophie, serve as an inspiration for myself. Sophie was also stabbed. The green-eyed, light brown haired, and intelligent little girl was stabbed while trying to save her sister. She faced her cross-examination fearlessly. It was surprising, the amount of power in this toddler’s spirit. Even after getting stabbed at such a young age (not that there is an appropriate age for getting stabbed), Sophie still walks, talks, play, runs, laughs, and cries, like any other child her age. The story of these sisters is an example for all women in Pakistan,but is not limited to any gender, age, class, or religion. It will stand as a model of hope. The people of this country, and those outside it, can look at this story, and learn that to struggle for justice is the right of every person. It was not an easy ride. It took Khadija 14 months to see the ray of hope. 14 months of painful struggle. ‘Husn kirdar say noor-e-mujassam ho ja, Keh iblees bhi tujhe dekhay tu muslamaan ho jae.’ The writer is a Lahore-based lawyer, practicing human rights and criminal law. He is a member of Gray’s Inn. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Published in Daily Times, July 26th , 2017.