Born in Karachi, Pakistan, Shahidah spent her early years in her home village of Malot, in the Jhelum district, before moving to Lahore. She is the daughter of MK Janjua, the first Commander in Chief of the Pakistani Air Force.
Her father was imprisoned and then exiled in the UK after the infamous Rawalpindi Conspiracy case. Shahidah was active in the student protests in London in the late 1960’s, protesting against the Vietnam War, South African Apartheid and the emerging Fascist movement in Britain.
Shahidah became involved in the women’s movement, and was a founder member of the Asian Women’s Refuge in Sheffield (Ashiana – meaning safe haven).
She moved to the North of Ireland from 1990 to 1995 and was active on the Management Committee of Downtown Women’s Centre in Belfast. It was here that Shahidah initiated, and then with other women, started the first Survivors Support Group in the North of Ireland.
In 1991 she was one of a group of women who organised the first conference on Pornography held in the North of Ireland, at the Community College Belfast. After the conference she helped form a Women Against Pornography group which took action against the industry.
Shahidah was a founder member of ‘Women Into Politics’ which subsequently developed into the Women’s Coalition, a political platform for women which was independent of all sectarian interests and male agendas, and where issues of violence against women were part of the focus.
Shahidah also co-wrote the script and appeared in a film on Child Sexual Abuse, as well as co-presenting a weekly programme on Belfast Community Radio on issues of violence against women.
While in the North of Ireland, Shahidah graduated with First Class Honours in Humanities (Majoring in Literature) from the University of Ulster.
Shahidah returned to the UK in 1995 and started work at Heeley Women’s Counselling Service as a Trainer. In 2001 she developed and started to deliver training on Prostitution to enable the service to support women who wanted to exit or had exited prostitution. In 2002 she began to develop work with Asylum Seeker and Refugee women, developing advocacy and group work.
From 1998 to 2004 for Shahidah was an active member of Justice for Women, a feminist campaigning organisation that supports and advocates on behalf of women who have fought back against or killed violent male partners.
In May 2001 Shahidah was elected to the Board of Trustees of the UK Rape Crisis Federation, becoming Chairperson in 2003.
In 2003 Shahidah was awarded the Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize. The annual prize of is awarded to an individual woman who has, through writing or campaigning, raised awareness of violence against women and children.
In 2005 Shahidah returned to Ireland, this time to live in Co Kerry, in the south of Ireland, where she continues to live today. During the past 6 years Shahidah has worked as a Community Development Worker for various community organisations in Kerry, including the Open Door Network, Kerry's Response to Violence Against Women, Listowel Family Resource Centre, Tralee Community Development Project and Partnership Tralee.
Shahidah works full time as a writer these days, is a member of the Kerry Women’s Interactive Network, and also finds time to volunteer as a counsellor at a couple of local support services.