Stories about women in Pakistan

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Jr and Maria Toorpakay Wazir will have none of this gender conformity nonsense, and we salute them

A few days ago, I had the privilege of watching two videos. The central individuals in both the videos are totally different. One is a scion of the most famous political dynasty of Pakistan, while the other was born into a more humble background but managed to garner fame and success through talent, determination and hard work. One is a bearded young man who speaks softly and eloquently, while the other is a tough-looking female who talks in what would be considered a “masculine” manner in our society. One is a man who is trying to tell the world ...

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Because gender equality can only be proven if women can show up to work in their underwear?

It’s 2017. Women are becoming more visible in possibly every field of work and professional capacities, proving that when they reclaim spaces, whether private or public, there is just no stopping how far they can excel. There is no one who can deny that fact. For centuries, women have been put down and pushed back with claims of natural and inherent incompetence based on their sex. Somehow, because a certain group of humans is born female with physical differences (read: different reproductive organs), they have been and still are considered not good enough to become successful or become leaders. However, the popular quote, “Time ...

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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 JI, why do you fear the emancipation of women in Pakistan?

Recently, the Jamat-e-Islami (JI) chief, Sirajul Haq, made a controversial speech that sparked a debate. In the speech, Haq tried to compare western culture to Pakistani culture and trivialised it by claiming that it advantaged individuality over everything else. In order to make his point, Haq gave several examples. He stated that in the West, children don’t live with their parents or take care of them when they grow old. However, the statement which really made the headlines was the anecdotal “evidence” he gave that in the West, men don’t even buy their girlfriends ice cream and couples pay for things separately. It was ironic that the JI chief tried to ...

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An open letter to the man I birthed

Last year, I entered the world’s finest and most respected club – motherhood. From then till now, my life has been a real rollercoaster ride. I never imagined my life as a nappy-changing, breastfeeding mother, but doing all this just made me more complete than ever. People had warned me that raising a boy was a different job and it truly is. Giving birth to a boy in a society like ours is a victory itself. The first words you hear after your delivery are,  “Mubarak ho, beta hua hai!” (Congratulations, it’s a son!) Every face around you, from the Dadi to the Nani, glows with the reassurance that ...

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Dear misogynist from Parhlo, this is what Pakistani feminists want you to know

I came across an article on Parhlo today, and infuriated does not come close to encapsulating how I feel, so here’s my response to it. Before you start calling me a “feminazi” – listen closely. The roots of feminism lie in finding equality; it is not about disowning male rights, or putting women above, it is about finding an equal ground that pleases both genders. Questioning, or challenging or taking offense to feminism makes you a sexist, plain and simple. Have you not heard of the damsel in distress? Have you not heard of the ‘Angel in the House’? I wouldn’t be surprised if you haven’t because let’s ...

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In Pakistan, men make decisions and women make dinner

Inequality between men and women is not something exclusive to the subcontinent or the Middle East. For instance, while allowed to participate in the army, women are still not permitted to serve in frontline combat in the United Kingdom, Turkey, and Slovakia. In the United States, and other developed nations, women are consistently overlooked for promotions and paid less for doing the same work their male counterparts do. In this part of the world, however, we make a clear distinction. Gender inequality is far from over in the developed world but at least mainstream statements that promote equality and denounce ...

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Wear red today

Indeed, today is the day to celebrate women. For those of us who are lucky enough to wake up to our mothers’ presence, we are aware of all the work they contribute to the house. Whether it is by showing love to their children, getting all the house-hold related chores in order or by making sure that there is always food on the table, mothers have always remained at the centre. In our society, being a mother is possibly one of the most unappreciated jobs. Historically, women were respected for raising children since there was no alternative option to full-time mothering. However, they ...

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He asked me why I never “act like a woman” – what does that mean?

Earlier this week, I went bursting into the courtroom to show my fellow colleague the new book I was reading. I exclaimed, “Oh my god. You have to see this!” Although no one was alerted by my vivacious excitement, he was completely mortified. He exclaimed, “What is wrong with you? Why do you never act like a woman? They are supposed to be quiet and elegant”. As annoyed as I was with his remark, I had to admit he revealed an unearthing reality of our society. Women are expected to be clones of the typical damsel in distress – quiet, shy, dignified – ...

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Season six of Girls is a game changer. Here’s why.

The first thing that struck me about season six of Girls was how it wasn’t about the girls anymore. The show was no longer about the undeniable bond between four girls that stood unwavering through time. In the very first episode, Hannah (Lena Dunham) says to Paul-Louis (Riz Ahmed) – having him in the episode was enough for me to like it – that she only knew her friends by what they didn’t like. How odd is it to not know what your friends like? How odd is it to relish in that fact? She smirks as she says this and man, ...

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