Faraz Talat

Faraz Talat

A medical doctor and bubble-wrap enthusiast from Rawalpindi, who writes mostly about science and social politics (and bubble-wrap). He tweets @FarazTalat (twitter.com/FarazTalat)

We don’t need to segregate men and women at rallies!

It was thoroughly mortifying to read about the harassment faced by women at the PTI rally on March 23, even more so with the realisation that it is not an isolated incident, but an illness our nation struggles with. I concede there is very little Imran Khan could have done to avoid this lamentable situation. Regulating vast crowds is always tricky business, let alone doing it in a rainstorm. I was, however, disturbed by the voting results at the end calling for separate arrangements for women at rallies. _____________________________________________

Do you think there should be separate arrangements for women at political rallies?

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_____________________________________________ It’s a perturbing proposition that the key to preventing harassment is enforcing gender segregation. ...

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It’s not the hijab, it’s the attitude that bothers me

Legend has it that when the clock strikes midnight, a terrifying army of beasts awaken who call themselves “The Westernsteins.” They comb our cities, with the sole mission of shaming and persecuting women who wear hijabs or traditional conservative clothing. Such was the terror of Westernsteins that families across Pakistan forbade their women to leave their homes without donning skinny jeans and spaghetti-strap tops. The flame of hope had ostensibly been extinguished, when the nation decided to fight back with a passionate campaign to promote hijab. The dream was that one day women would be able to wear hijabs as freely as they get ...

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Can’t get shisha in DHA? Go somewhere else!

The libertarian and the doctor in me have been at war with each other for some time, generating a tremendous deal of cognitive dissonance regarding the use of shisha. I have recently begun leaning away from the ban. Here’s why, The recent move by the Defense Housing Authority (DHA), Karachi to ban cafes from serving shisha has expectedly drawn some controversy. I’ve personally never smoked shisha in my life (Hi mom! Thanks for reading my blog!) but I still believe I’ve acquired enough information about it to make a case against the ban. The most obvious problem with the ban is that it applies only ...

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10 reasons sex education has nothing to do with vulgarity

While it is truly comforting that Punjab Chief Minister, Shahbaz Sharif – among many others — is taking such lively interests in our students’ moral upbringing, he may have mistaken ‘sex education’ for ‘vulgarity’. Here’s what he may be missing. 1) Sex education does not encourage illicit activities Does having an airbag in your car make you feel like driving your Honda off a bridge? Is my plane more likely to crash if the cabin crew shows me a flight safety instructions video before take-off? An examination of 73 studies on the subject has revealed that comprehensive sexual education does not make students more sexually active than they already ...

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Deadly exorcism and our collective demons of ignorance

Yesterday, the police found a body that had been pierced by needles over a hundred times. The girl’s bones were fractured by repeated blows to her limbs, and then burned with a hot iron rod. The police claim the it was exorcism, but no one is sure about what really happened to her. Earlier last year many cases were reported. In one, a girl named Salma, who was just 13 died of exorcism. According to The Express Tribune,  The girl’s breathing was hampered by blocking her nostrils with cotton buds and holding her mouth shut. I find it unbearable that such incidents should be ...

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Beat polio even if you have to “eat grass”

The casualties in our seemingly endless war on Polio were once limited to the sufferers of the disease itself. If the recent martyrdom of six vaccination workers in Karachi and Peshawar is any indication, this war is only getting bloodier and more terrifying by the day. In 1991, when El Salvador was engulfed by a brutal civil war, a cease-fire was arranged between the guerilla groups and the government to allow free mobility to the polio vaccination teams in the country. Two sides, locked in a savage conflict for ten years, had enough wits to acknowledge that their political and ...

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We are (annoyed by) Malala!

Oh, Malala! How did a child like you ever manage to lock herself in the eye of an unrelenting storm of controversy and conspiracies? Usually when a girl gets shot, she gets to reap much support and sympathy. Somehow, that art is lost on you. Almost everything your name touches, spontaneously combusts into an inferno of angry protests- if not simmer with a million eye-rolls and irritable head-shakes. A recent example is the controversy surrounding the renaming of the Saidu Sharif College in your honour. The students had several reasons to protest. One was about your audacity to seek medical treatment ...

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They are differently abled, not disabled

Who among us has stopped at a red light in the inner city and not been visually assaulted by a dozen individuals with gross physical abnormalities walking, limping, crawling and rolling towards our cars? What we’re observing is not necessarily poverty, but ‘ableism’. ‘Ableism’ is a belief that only those with a certain set of physical and mental attributes may be counted as a normal part of the society. Those lacking such attributes must either hustle to fit into a non-compliant society, or remove themselves from the mainstream entirely. One of the most heart-rending sights you may come across is that of a ...

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I’m a liberal, deal with it!

Our political arena is strictly a battleground between the hard conservatives and the centrists. On the other end of the field, amidst rolling tumbleweeds and sprawling spider webs, stand a grand total of four liberals, one of whom almost got shot a few days ago. Déjà vu, anyone? When we suggest that the “liberal extremists are as bad as the right-wing fundamentalists”, we assert a symmetrical distribution of lunatics and miscreants. This proposition is entirely ludicrous. I cannot recall the last time an outspoken liberal like Hoodbhoy garlanded a killer, or if Asma Jahangir placed a bounty on someone’s head. I wonder how many ...

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Too fat to fit in!

It’s a curious state to be at constant war with your own anatomy.  To perceive your body, as an unsightly prison, confining a thinner, much prettier person, struggling to burst out like an alien spawn. Obesity has a tendency to precipitate a sense of self-loathing which is so profound, that it begins to exact a toll on more than just one’s physical health. Despite the boundaries of political correctness ceaselessly contracting, most people still feel comfortable developing low opinions of people based simply on their weight. This is because in an average person’s mind, obesity is a condition that a person ...

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