Thank you for ‘playing’ This Is (Not) a Game — you had more choices than most people who find themselves in the justice system. For you, this lasted only a few minutes. For almost 4,000 Pakistani death row prisoners and their families, this is real life with struggles that can span decades.
This game is a multi-narrative fictional story based on the struggles and realities of countless death row prisoners and their families, such as Khizar Hayat, Abdul Basit, Kanizan Bibi, and Muhammad Iqbal. Khizar was a paranoid schizophrenic who, after 16 years on death row, passed away on a hospital bed in 2019 after a long illness. Abdul Basit is a paraplegic prisoner who has been on death row for over a decade, with his case still in limbo. Kanizan Bibi is another schizophrenic prisoner who was released earlier in 2021 after spending 30 years on death row. Muhammad Iqbal was a death row prisoner who was arrested as a juvenile, and was released in 2020 after 20 years behind bars.
The choices you faced in the game are akin to the same choices many people have to make in the criminal justice system, often faced with discrimination and hardships on the basis of their gender, socio-economic status and lack of awareness.
Play Your Part
You can support us by sharing the following campaign material on your social media accounts using the hashtag #ThisIsNotAGame:
Some sample tweets you can use:
- I played #ThisIsNotAGame by @JusticeProject_ and it’s harrowing to think that the decisions that took me only a few seconds take decades for thousands of people. You can also play it at jpp.org.pk/thisisnotagame
- #ThisIsNotAGame puts you in a really difficult position as you try to save a life while maintaining your own sanity. Play it on @JusticeProject_’s website jpp.org.pk/thisisnotagame
- It is true that women face far more difficulties in Pakistan’s criminal justice system and #ThisIsNotAGame by @JusticeProject_ reflects that effectively. jpp.org.pk/thisisnotagame
- Can you make difficult decisions to save your loved one? Play @JusticeProject_’s #ThisIsNotAGame and find out: jpp.org.pk/thisisnotagame
- This is (not) a game. For thousands of people, this is real life. Play it on @JusticeProject_’s website jpp.org.pk/thisisnotagame
Create interactive Instagram stories
You can also play another version of the game on your Instagram stories by using an Augmented Reality filter here.
Women and death row
Families of death row defendants, particularly women, face tough and often traumatic experiences in a system that inherently discriminates against them. This campaign illustrates the experience of the family members of indigent defendants and how systemic problems in the justice system (such as power and corruption) intersect with poverty, access to legal representation, torture in police custody etc.
For World Day Against the Death Penalty, observed every October 10, the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty has chosen “Women and the death penalty: An invisible reality” as this year’s theme. Although Pakistan sentences very few women to death, the justice system disproportionately affects women who have to engage with the system in one way or another, whether it is visiting a police station to file a complaint or to attend court hearings. A 2018 study by Agnes Callamard, titled “Judged For More Than Her Crime” found, “Women in conflict with the law are particularly vulnerable to abuse and other rights violations, either at the police station, during trial, or while incarcerated. Women are more likely than men to be illiterate, which affects their ability to understand and participate in their own defense.
A report by the Ministry of Human Rights, titled “Plight of Women in Pakistan’s Prisons”, found that women were less knowledgeable and less empowered to Pakistan’s existing criminal justice system. To date, Pakistan has not had a single female judge in the Supreme Court and there are less than 10 female judges in the country’s high courts. This gender disparity exists within lawyers as well as the police force, both traditionally male dominated professions. This makes access to justice much more difficult for women involved in the system.
Production: Justice Project Pakistan
Creative Consultants: Ryan Van Winkle, Deborah Pearson (Golden Hour Productions)
Artwork: Umair Najeeb Khan
Development Partners: Lawgic, Azaad Theatre, Mishermayl Productions, Afzal Saahir, Shahwali Shayan
Supporting partner: Vakeel Online
Marketing partner: Optiwise Solutions