Stories about domestic violence

Karan Johar, Kangana Ranaut and male privilege

There is no doubt about Karan Johar’s immense talent. He sees Bollywood from a unique eye that captures its essence as well as its soul – what he creates on the big screen is nothing short of magical. In a gargantuan $4.5 billion industry like Bollywood, Johar and Dharma alone stand at $200 million. Johar combines the idyllic with the marketable. He is truly a dream merchant – whether it is when Shah Rukh Khan runs towards Kajol in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai or Deepika Padukone and Ranbir Kapoor dance at a wedding –Johar has a unique eye and an ...

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Your husband beat you up? No worries, now you can cover it up with makeup

A Moroccan TV show recently taught women how to cover up bruises they got as a result of domestic violence. After a lot of hue and cry, the video was removed but it still sparked outrage on social media, and Moroccan rights groups were extremely vocal about insisting that the show be cancelled completely. But let’s take a step back, shall we. Let’s go back to the moment the producer and the team of that show actually decided that this feather-brained idea would be a great seller. Let’s go back to the moment where everyone said, “Hey, you know what would be fantastic? If ...

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Is the new #BeatMe campaign really a form of female empowerment?

I have always been a misfit. The obese thought I was too thin to fit in, the thin ones considered me too fat to fit into their circle. I was not serious enough for the intellectuals and a bit too serious for the non-intellectuals, too unconventional for the conventional and too domesticated for the free birds. However, these are just to name a few. My greatest dilemma is being too desi for the burgers and too burger for the desis. This leaves me with no choice but to hang-out with myself and even take myself out for dinner. I am well aware of the criticism ...

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Khuda Mera Bhi hai is definitely worth a watch

An alarming trend that often puts many people off from Pakistani dramas is how they tend to glorify patriarchy, domestic violence and misogyny. However, with recent dramas like Nanhi, Chup Reho, Udaari, Sang e Mar Mar, we see that the trend is gradually changing and that dramas are delivering clear cut messages that domestic violence is not okay. Of late, the play Khuda Mera Bhi Hai touches on these forbidden topics and takes extremely bold steps in sending these messages across. The story revolves around Mahgul, played by Ayesha Khan. Thankfully, Ayesha Khan will now be seen in a strong, ...

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We’re celebrating Pakistan’s Independence Day, but are we really independent?

On August 11, 1947, a newly-formed Pakistan held its first parliamentary session. The purpose was to draft a constitution. During this session, Pakistan’s founding father Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah famously reaffirmed the pluralistic values the new nation had been founding declaring: “You are free, you are free to go to your temples; you are free to go to your mosques or any other place of worship in the state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the state.” This year will mark the nation’s 69th year ...

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Women, the stuff maulvi nightmares are made of

Pakistanis are extremely resourceful people. We work with what we get. When life gave us the proverbial lemons in the guise of terrorism and religious extremism, we rose to the occasion by coining the term ‘liberal extremists’ to protect our social fabric from the menace of tolerance, human rights, and other Jewish conspiracies. The ‘liberal extremist’ is the right-wing’s brilliant attempt at tapping into the powerful global constituency against violence and extremism in a post 9/11 world. Someone recently said that ‘when you are accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression’. In the case of Pakistan, when you have political ...

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This Saudi therapist teaches husbands how to beat their wives

Saudi Arabia is a kingdom where women aren’t allowed to drive, can’t vote like men, must dress like ninjas, and often take the legal blame if raped. Without permission from their husbands/fathers, they can’t leave the country, can’t open a bank account, can’t obtain a passport, can’t pursue higher education, and more. These laws open Saudi women to abuse. Depending on the luck of the draw, if a Saudi woman ends up with an abusive husband or father (like the Saudi preacher who raped his ‘flirty’ five-year-old daughter to teach her a lesson) she is destined for a life of ...

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Series 4 Chandni Chowk Part 2 The moon has bruises

Later in the evening, the telephone rings. It is the adoption agency calling to tell you that your son has asked for your name and address and, as he is of age, he has been provided both. “He’ll be coming to see you soon, probably.” “This was just to inform you…” the woman over the phone says, in her uncaring monotone. “He’ll be coming to see you soon, probably.” “That’s all well and good,” you reply, rubbing at your forehead with a hand. “But you must be mistaken. I don’t have a s—.” The woman hangs up before you can complete the sentence. You ...

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Series 4 Chandni Chowk Part 1 Where roses bloom like bruises

When the bell rings, your hands are still covered with dirt from the garden. You hastily stick them under the tap beside the back door, toss the apron into the oven on your way into the hall, and swing open the front door. The neighbours, aunty number one and aunty number two, whose actual names you can never remember, are standing underneath the shade of the lemon tree. They fan themselves with their hands, their flabby arms moving up and down in an inconsequential rhythm. Aunty number one struts inside, her salon-dyed blonde hair revealing itself through her scarf. Aunty number ...

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In Pakistan, we have 13-year-old rape victims

The terrible news of a 13-year-old girl, raped and impregnated by her teacher in Larkana, Sindh, breaks the heart over and over again. The only good thing about this is that the teacher has been arrested, and has confessed to the crime (now that the child is four months pregnant). A powerful essay talks about how nobody in the government has taken notice of this case. Worse, the community blames the victim’s family for not protecting her “honour”. Supposedly they should have protected her “honour” by either never letting her go to school in the first place, or by killing her as soon as they ...

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