Farahnaz Zahidi

Farahnaz Zahidi

The writer works as a Senior Sub-Editor at The Express Tribune, and has a focus on human rights, gender and peace-building. She blogs at chaaidaani.wordpress.com/ and tweets as @FarahnazZahidi (twitter.com/FarahnazZahidi)

So who should talk to the 20-somethings about contraception?

They can curse in each other’s presence, break traffic signals in unison and smoke together, and they may at times act macho and show off their romantic escapades. But young men, like their elders, do not readily open up about reproductive issues. Parents or teachers do not discuss subjects of a sensitive nature with them. While it is the same with adolescent and young women, they are comparatively more open to confiding in each other and getting guidance. But it seems the world may be in for a change in attitude. Young men, all over the world, are stepping up to take ...

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Drought or not, children are dying in Tharparkar, Qaim Ali Shah

Death is a regular visitor at the doors of Tharparkar’s mothers. Within the first 10 days of 2016, 17 children died in just the Mithi area of district Tharparkar in Sindh. Nothing new. Between December 2013 and early March 2014, at least 124 lives were lost in Tharparkar, 67 of them at the Civil Hospital Mithi alone. These are just some registered deaths in the most (relatively) developed area of the 20,000 sq km desert comprising the district. And once again, Sindh’s Chief Minister (CM) says these deaths are being exaggerated. This feels like Déjà vu. Part of the statement of ...

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She was 13 and he was 39

The 15-year-old girl from Lahore gave her “consent” and he was her “boyfriend”, and so it is not rape, they say. This case is garnering a very expected response. But why are we surprised? It reminds me of a case I came across a while back. A 13-year-old girl fell for her 39-year-old neighbour. They started chatting via the internet. One day, when she was home alone, he coerced her into having a sexual encounter. Reality was not as the girl had imagined. When it actually happened, she yelled, cried and resisted but was raped. But the men in her ...

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Why aren’t Pakistani men given paternity leave?

“We are pregnant.”   That is such a wonderful way of announcing the happy news that a couple is expecting a baby. While it is by natural default that the woman is destined to bear the bigger physical brunt by carrying the child to term and going through the delivery ordeal, there is no dearth of good daddies who take pride and ownership in the role. The more evolved men of today take the paternal instinct very seriously. They are involved in active parenting. And so many of them – like Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg – want to spend some uninterrupted ...

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Earthquake 200(1)5: Are Pakistanis mobilised best when calamities are of colossal magnitudes?

A 100 plus schools and almost 9,000 houses have been demolished in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) alone, and even official figures show that the death toll is bordering on 300 people. Calculating the number of the injured and incapacitated is not difficult to calculate. The earthquake that shook Pakistan on October 26th was not a small calamity by any means. Yet, apart from sporadic sightings of a couple of relief camps, Pakistanis are not mobilised like they were at the time of natural calamities that hit the country in the past. The initial wave of sympathy seems to have dissipated sooner than usual. The very nation which prides itself ...

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Women will do anything it takes to look beautiful

“Aap moon haath dho kar fresh ho jayain. Mein chai laati hoon.” (You can freshen up. I’ll get you some tea.) The women uttering this on TV mostly look immaculately well put together, French nail tips and blow dry et al. This sentence deserves the award for the most oft-repeated sentence on Pakistani prime time television. But what is amazing is how good most of the women on our prime time television dramas look while working in kitchen all day, if the dramas are to be believed. Female news persons are also perfectly painted and coiffured, even if not well versed ...

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Why sacrificing animals on Eidul Azha is a good ritual

Is everyone noticing the drastic reduction in the number of houses from which the familiar bleating sounds of goats and the authoritarian moo of cows can be heard this year? If television reports are to be believed, there are more animals available in the market for sacrifice than there are buyers. The reasons are many, and some of them are valid. Exorbitant asking prices of sellers are one. The portion you get in a cow is as expensive now as a goat used to be. Not every region of Pakistan is culturally attuned to beef, which remains the more economical ...

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Kasur child pornography: Knowing the difference between resistance and consent

I don’t curse. But this is a rare occasion where I would love to abuse the perpetrators of the Kasur children’s sexual abuse atrocity in the vilest possible terms. However, here’s the thing about cursing – If I curse, I would end up using words that revile their mothers, sisters, and use the same pile of filth in words that they actually went and committed by use of force, intoxication and blackmailing. So I would only be furthering the same thought process, where sex is connected with a position of power.  People who curse using sexual terminology are played into feeling a ...

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Dear Karachiites, before you plant trees, think

The heat wave that killed more than 1,300 people in Karachi seems like a long time ago. Concerned citizens, in the heat of the moment, promised to plant trees, but very little has been said regarding when and how this can be done. As time is passing and cool monsoon winds are blowing away painful memories of the heat wave, the promises seem to be dissipating. Where memories are short lived, long-term efforts to mitigate a recurrence of the same catastrophe seem nowhere in sight. That is the problem with climate change – the cause and effect, both take place over extended periods of time. ...

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The reality of Pakistan through Brandon Stanton’s lens

While Pakistani fans of Brandon Stanton were posting warm and welcoming comments on the Humans of New York (HONY) Facebook page, the power of pre-conceived notions and assumptions about Pakistan was evident in the contrasting rude and dismissive comments. Some of them called Pakistan “that wretched country” and threatened to give up on being fans of Brandon if he visited Pakistan. Photo: Screenshot And so it has been. Pakistan, a beautiful country, inhabited by a vibrant nation, is often seen globally as a monolithic entity in which only extremists and bigots live, and where only bad things happen. It is seen as not ...

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