Stories about sexual harassment

If it’s unfair to believe an allegation, it is also unfair to doubt Ayesha Gulalai and call her names

A few months ago, I wrote an article where I pointed out that both the Pakistan Muslim League–Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) were promoting a misogynist culture. In the said article, I criticised PML-N leaders like Khawaja Asif and Javed Latif for spewing filthy language against women in rival political parties. I further argued that PTI was also indulging in the same practice as an overwhelming number of its supporters have repeatedly abused prominent women politicians and also public figures. I cited examples of Malala Yousafzai, Asma Jahangir, Reham Khan and Maryam Nawaz. I also wrote about how Dr Shireen ...

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Instead of trying to earn cheap gains, Careem should focus on what powered their core business – safety

There is no place in the world where women can feel as safe or have the same privileges as men. But it is especially hard in Pakistan where discrimination is an endemic, thanks to the entitled mind-set of the typical Pakistani male. Abuse ranges from violence to sexual harassment, or worse, and no classes, locations or environments are completely safe from this. Some time ago, after someone close to me faced repeated harassment at the workplace through texts and emails, which included hundreds of threats of sexual violence, I was inspired to write an article investigating how deep the problem is in Pakistani work culture. The results were shocking. You’d ...

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The shared experience of being tampered with as a child

Jack* did not have much of a childhood to write home about. That obviously did not hinder his meteoric rise, because as a young professional, he was already on top of his game. He was quite successful, with a six digit salary, vacations pre-planned for a year in advance, and stocks and bonds neatly sorted out. While he could hold onto investments with alacrity, what he couldn’t hold on to, for dear life, were relationships. Friends, men or women, would come and go from his life, with surprising frequency. To him, even his biological family, the little he had, felt like it was on borrowed time. I think the lack ...

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While a new day yields a new molester, our girls are still told it’s their fault

“It was my first day at work. I covered my head like a good Muslim, didn’t speak to the opposite gender unnecessarily, still somehow by the time I returned home, I had a few extremely vulgar text messages from unidentified numbers on my mobile. It shocked me because only a few family members had my new mobile number and I was 100% certain that it wasn’t a coincidence to receive such messages on my first day at work. I was frightened at the thought of someone at this new workplace having such a perception of me. That someone must have assumed I am ...

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Dear Saudi, their only crime was being born transgender, and that’s not a crime at all

Amna, a 35-year-old from the Mingora part of Swat and 26-year-old Meeno from Peshawar were killed in Saudi Arabia this week in police custody. The death of any prisoner at the hands of law enforcement is already disturbing as it is, but these two were allegedly tortured to death. Alongside 33 others, they were arrested, placed inside sacks, and beaten, and beaten, and then beaten some more until the two succumbed to their injuries. Imagine being helpless, alone, inside a dark claustrophobic sack, and struck on the body and head with canes and kicks until dying painfully. There is very ...

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Why I think the PTV anchors were right to go public with their accusations

Currently, the issue of workplace sexual harassment seems to be in the national spotlight due to an on-going investigation at Pakistan Television (PTV). According to the available details, two prominent anchors had accused PTV’s current affairs director for sexual harassment. In response, the channel had initiated an inquiry to look into the matter. However, during the investigation, the two anchors decided to use other media platforms (electronic and social) to spread awareness of their case, which resulted in the PTV management imposing a ban on the involved anchors. The PTV management was of the opinion that the anchors were issuing ...

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Set aside that male privilege and stand up for your women, Pakistan

Being a Pakistani man myself, I would like to think that most Pakistani men are as appalled at instances of sexual violence as I am. I would like to think that most Pakistani men would not engage in sexual violence. I would like to think that there is a small minority of sexual predators who commit these terrible acts. However, the truth may be a lot more horrifying than my mistaken beliefs. I am not going to limit this to sexual harassment as I do feel a lot of people do commit sexual harassment without even realising they are ...

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Naila Rind: Locking women up will not help secure them from sexual harassment, Pakistan

We cannot, as a nation, claim progress till our women feel safe everywhere at any time. The life of a woman in a man’s world was never easy, but nothing can be worse than not doing anything to change that. No matter how many steps we manage to take forward, we have just as many people pushing us back. By writing this, I wish to bring to the reader’s attention the way we are handling the Naila Rind case – a student of the University of Sindh, Jamshoro, who committed suicide after being constantly blackmailed and harassed. Our country does not have harassment policies ...

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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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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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