Stories about patriarchy

Wearing jeans or a sleeveless top is “ruining the culture”, but a sari showing the midriff is not, India?

There must be something very special about the evil garment called ‘women jeans’, otherwise why would even the most sagacious men rile up against it? They are certainly not just a pair of trousers in denim fabric, else why would it worry and distract men so much? Perhaps this is the reason why the village panchayat in Rajasthan barred women from wearing jeans along with attractive clothing such as leggings, short skirts and sleeveless tops. Nevertheless, women wearing fully covered jeans with a sleeveless top ruin the culture, but a sari that shows off midriff doesn’t. Besides, it is the tight jeans and leggings that ...

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Why do I have to pretend to fast when my “monthly friend” is visiting?

I sit in the room at the end of the hallway. The door is closed. My head is bent. I am waiting to be called. I was six-years-old. I stood on the balcony with my mother, father and cousin as we tried to spot the chaand that would symbolise the start of Ramazan. I was excited. I was thrilled; there was nothing I wanted more than to fast for the entire month. I started singing, “Ramazan ke rozay aye, hum roza rakhna chahain!” (The month of fasting is here, and we wish to fast!) My cousin shared the same enthusiasm; he got up and began singing along with me. ...

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Will Priyanka Chopra’s Baywatch help normalise swimsuits for Indians?

I was 13-years-old when I first watched an episode of Baywatch. All the boys at school had been talking about the show in hushed tones. They said it was very B-Y, a term they used to describe a bikini-clad woman. The B referred to the bikini top and the Y referred to the bikini bottom. I was in ninth standard, and my mother had decided we would get cable only after my 10th standard board exams. Also, parents in general did not want teenagers to watch a lot of shows on cable TV back then to curb “western” influence. I watched ...

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Why is India, a secular and progressive state, refusing to ban triple talaq?

Triple talaq or talaq-e-bidat is one of the eight ways to divorce in Islam. However, unlike popularly known in India, this form of irrevocable talaq is not Quranic but a post-prophet innovation of Umayyad Oligarchs in second century of the Hijri era – approved by the jurists of Hanafi Law. One of the biggest misconceptions surrounding this concept is that people believe the husband can say “talaq” or “I divorce you” three times consecutively and annul their marriage. However, that is not the case. Rather it means the person has to wait for a period of three months, within which if ...

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Pakistan isn’t the only country that bestows injustices to its transgender community

Pakistan isn’t the only country that bestows injustices onto minority groups residing in its country. We all are aware of the recent violent acts that have taken place against the transgender community, all thanks to social media for spreading awareness on the issue. Donald Trump’s win as the 45th president of the United States has brought about many conservative and anti-human rights thoughts, which seem to retract the liberal and more inclusive laws set in motion by the former democratic president of the United States, Barack Obama. Obama ordered public schools in May 2016 to allow transgender students to use bathrooms according to their chosen identity, further threatening to hold back federal funding if ...

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Is Islam the most feminist religion?

I’ve been reading about Australian youth activist Yassmin Abdel-Magied (we appeared on an Australian show once together) and her words to Jacqui Lambie on an Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) television show that Islam is (to her) the most feminist religion. Yassmin got pilloried in the Australian press for this statement. With the state of affairs for women in many Muslim countries today, it’s easy to see how it might not sit well with a cynical and non-Muslim-friendly audience. It would have gone down great with an audience full of Muslims, but we should probably unpack the statement a little bit to come somewhere between the optimism of Yassmin’s assertion and the rest of ...

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As a man, I stand by Karachi EAT festival’s “no stags” policy

Recently the management of the Karachi EAT food festival came under a lot of criticism over their ‘families only’ rule. Memes and jokes were made and circulated on social media and a lot of online activity was witnessed where young boys who prefer to move in groups and often dubbed as ‘munchalay’ were planning a crusade against the above mentioned rule. This sparked a debate between the men and women of the country as they argued over whether they are justified or not, and how discriminatory the rule is. Don't see any twitter feminist Jihadis complaining how a guy needs to enter KarachiEat with fam ...

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Dear men, a short skirt, bikini and even a naked female is not an invitation

India is in the news once again, and for all the wrong reasons yet again. An instance of mass molestation in Bangalore on New Year’s Eve has put the country under the radar. An estimated 60,000 people gathered on MG Road and Brigade road to join in the celebrations ushering in 2017. Reports state that members of the crowd turned unruly and a large number of women were harassed and groped. And as has happened previously, ministers have been making asinine statements while trying to shift the blame from the perpetrators of the crime to the victims. Ministers have been known ...

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Presenting, Pakistan’s Social Media Awards for 2016!

Nobody does crazy like Pakistan. In 2016, the world lost their collective cool and Pakistan was put on the crazy back burner. But that does not mean we didn’t have our moments. It is time to acknowledge those moments. The strangest out of all the weird stories, the most real-fake news, as well as the funniest – let’s honour the best. Presenting, the Social Media Awards for 2016! From sacrificing goats before flying planes to kabootar agents, from stationary dharnas to mankind’s angels, from chai walas to Momina; these are my favourite stories from last year. The time for politics is over; we are in the age of the celebrity – Donald Trump is president. The victor of the 2018 ...

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Have Muslim countries failed its women due to religious orthodoxy?

A few months ago, when Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy won her Oscar, I got into a heated argument with one of my friends. His contention was that people like her were ‘maligning’ the image of Pakistan by unnecessarily inflating some isolated incidents. In his opinion, her efforts were just creating negative stereotypical images of Pakistan and which made ‘enemies’ of Pakistan feel comfortable in their hate. In his opinion, Pakistan’s gender related issues were not systemic and were blown out of proportion. “It is just a tiny minority which is indulging in honour killings and it is unfair to present Pakistan in such a negative light”, he argued. Is he ...

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