Stories about abortion

Why framing Shia genocide as a sectarian conflict only trivialises the problem

One of the most important factors which determine the way an issue is understood, debated and addressed is the way it is framed in the media. Framing becomes extremely important as it affects the discourse, narrative, and ultimately the kind of solutions which are brought to the table. Knowing its importance, supporters and opponents of a contentious issue often try to frame it to their advantage. For example, in the US, the debate around abortion is often framed as pro-life by Conservatives. This is a very powerful and effective construct as it creates the impression that those who choose abortion are anti-life and hence ...

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In India, women’s safety is a promise no one can keep

It was Mother’s Day recently and we couldn’t stop gushing in our seasonal tribute about our love and gratitude for our parent. The rest of the day, we patted ourselves on the back and declared ourselves super mommies who deserved their day in the sun or rather the spa. But away from all the bleeding hearts and not too far away from the national capital, a mother spent the day watching her 10-year-old girl in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Days later, she continues to do so. There can’t be a bigger irony, because our declarations on social media don’t have a pulse on ...

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An open letter to Asra Nomani

Dear Ms Asra, I am a student who has been living in the United States of America (USA) for the past five years. I did my Masters from here and right now I am in my third year of PhD. As someone deeply interested in politics (my degree is in Political Science) I have read your previous work. I have also seen you on TV and deeply respect your liberal values and understanding regarding what plagues the Muslim world. However, I was surprised when I read your letter justifying your rationale for voting Trump. That letter is being shared by many who have voted for Trump as ...

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Did the biased media coverage of the US elections ensure Trump’s victory?

On April 6, 1994, a missile shot down an airplane carrying Hutu leaders Juvenal Habyarimana and Cyprian Ntayamira in Rwanda, unleashing the ethnic majority Hutus against the minority Tutsis on a campaign of mass murder. As the atrocity spread, the world debated the nuances of the word ‘genocide’. Three months and at least half a million deaths later proved that, yes, it was genocide. Semantics matter. During the 2016 US election, mainstream media’s refusal to correctly identify bigotry, while perhaps not as egregious as mislabelling ethnic cleansing, has contributed to Donald Trump’s victory. Semantics matter. Trump’s detractors, and count me ...

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Grandma: A breath of (witty) fresh air

Grandma is a wholesome American story of a young teenage girl who is pregnant and needs to get an abortion before sundown. Since her mother is not as understanding to this sensitive issue, she turns to her grandma (Lily Tomlin), a rebellious former hippie gay woman from the 70s. And together they embark on a journey to find cash for the abortion and quite possibly, uncovering some of the secrets from her past. Grandma is short, sweet, funny and doesn’t waste too much time on exposition. It is also a comedy that does not make light of teen pregnancy. The ...

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Why won’t you let Ruwa Rehman Talk, dammit?

Shut up… shut up… shut up… just shut the f*** up… That’s how it starts for many sex abuse survivors in Pakistan when they finally draw the strength to reach out from the void and tell their story. “Chup hojao. Shhh. Bas ab tum nay mujhay bataya hay magar aur kis hee ko nahi batana.” (Just keep quiet. You’ve told me, now don’t tell anyone else.) If this fails, the angle of attack changes on the survivor. “Apni izzat ka socho. Tum say kon shaadi karey ga?”  (Think of your reputation. Who will marry you?) Sometimes, especially when the perpetrator is a close family member, ...

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Fundamentalism: When a woman has to prove her ‘purity’ by balancing a rock on her head

August 2015 fell on South Asia’s shoulders as an overbearing weight and a massive shock – as preparations for Independence Day on both sides of the Pakistan-India border were underway. Pakistan’s largest child abuse scandal surfaced, wherein some 400 children had been victims to the perverted fantasies of sexually depraved men. There has been much debate and dissent as to what the rationale behind rape is, and everyone pretty much knows what drives a rapist to rape. What is more important to note here is the nonchalance of the police force and the deformed laws that govern the heinous crime that rape is. From across the border, ...

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Orange Is the New Black: Changing perceptions and clearing misconceptions

In the last two years, Orange Is the New Black has proven to be one of the most multi-faceted and diverse shows of this decade. It is a blend between a harsh reality, a cruel joke, and a fit of absolute hilarity. Around 80 per cent of the show is set at a Federal Women’s prison in New York. The show, based on a book of the same title, highlights a crude and in-your-face sense what life for the female inmates is like. What makes it interesting is that for every character on the set, every one that we see, we are ...

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“After my relatives raped me 30-40 times, it didn’t hurt anymore”

“It’s been years. I don’t feel the pain in my vagina anymore.” “But why didn’t you tell anyone?” “I was shocked. Ma used to see me bleed, but she never did anything. So, I thought it’s something to be done regularly. I was 7 then. I am 20 now.” “Since then? Till you moved out? Every day?” “Almost, till I planned to move out.” As we were sipping on some nimbu chai (lemon tea), I looked into her eyes. She had no expressions. She didn’t really care much about it. I grabbed her pack of smokes. We shared one. I noticed a faint smile on her face. “You ...

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Caught in Islamabad with sex toys and an abortion clinic – Uh Oh

Around 1,000 Pakistani women die every year because of abortion-related complications, and the procedure is often used as a primary family-planning method, rather than a last resort. This is because of a combination between low contraceptive prevalence, low sexual health awareness, unqualified or illegal medical practitioners and social taboos about topics related to sexuality. So when a story comes along that allows broader debate on quack abortionists, it is worrying that the approach taken to covering it is one of religious and moral outrage at the ‘unusual’ sexual elements of the story, rather than the life-preserving element. A recent story about an alleged fake abortion clinic in Islamabad was given ...

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