Stories about women

Pakistan Women’s Day: It’s about time we start respecting Shireen Mazari and Asma Jahangir

February 12, 2015, commemorates National Women’s Day in Pakistan, for our mothers, doctors, engineers, leaders, homemakers and women belonging to every strata, class and religion in society. But while we celebrate our women, it is very unfortunate that many of them have to face immense challenges in their daily routine; from public name-calling to humiliation and character assassination, our women go through all. Whenever they come out and participate effectively in political or public spheres, many elements express their venom against such women and regard them to be of bad character and lacking morals. An example of this is the ...

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Genetically ‘male’ woman gives birth to twins. Great, but did she have to?

A few days back, I read about a medical miracle that occurred in the Indian city of Meerut. I understand that a ‘genetically male’ woman has given birth to twins. A 32-year-old ‘woman’ had a rare hormonal conditional where she looks like a woman but is ‘almost’ a man. She did not attain puberty and has never menstruated. Her uterus was underdeveloped, her ovaries were non-functional and that she had an unpronounceable condition called “XY gonadal dysgenesis “(whew that sure was a mouthful). In short, ‘her’ body was not designed for natural conception or to hold a nine month pregnancy. She ...

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I thought he was a beggar-child…

I was deep in my thoughts, standing at the railway station, when a slight tug on my shirt startled me. Averting my gaze towards the source of the tug, I saw a child. A sense of pity washed over; I took out some money from my pocket and tried to give it to the child, but he refused to take it. Feeling even more empathetic towards him, I gently took his small palm into my hands and placed the money there. Suddenly, a man came rushing towards us, “He is not a beggar! You look smart enough to know that!” he ...

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Do we need a ‘females-only’ mosque?

January 30, 2015, was a defining day for Muslim women in the United States. Close to 150 women gathered at the Interfaith Pico-Union Project, in Los Angeles, at a mosque to offer their Friday prayers. However, that wasn’t the unique aspect. What was unique was that while there are many mosques in the US which accommodate women, this particular mosque was built just for them. For the first time in the US, we were introduced to the idea of a females-only mosque, which is managed and administered by women alone. After the prayers were offered, the women gathered around the khateeba (one who delivers sermons) who ...

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Misplaced priorities: Why do you lose your mind when it comes to Imran Khan?

 As a journalist I have always been impartial towards political parties; experience shows that while all of them promise the world, none of them deliver. Lately, however, the dynamic of politics in Pakistan have changed. Ever since Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has come into power in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), many women started taking an interest in Pakistani politics. The women are now seen constituting a majority of the supporters participating in various sit-ins that take place in cities across the country. For many it is the aura that Imran Khan emanates that becomes the primary reason for support, while for others it ...

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Saudi Arabia: Holy hypocrites

I was born in Saudi Arabia and am very closely accustomed to the grossly odd laws that exist within the nation, namely, and perhaps most famously, that women are not allowed to drive, that women have to don the black abaya when in public and that there is strict segregation between men and women most stringently enforced by the muttawas or religious police.  I distinctly remember a muttawa once giving my mother a religious lecture over how she should contain her eight-year-old daughter and stop her from running around in case she attracted men. A complete absurdity indeed but my mother ...

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Does Pakistan’s media encourage sexism?

The recent controversy surrounding Junaid Jamshed has dominated social media over the weekend. The matter is between him and God; I am in no position to comment on the apology or the blasphemy issue at all. Maybe this incident will open a conversation about the blasphemy laws in Pakistan. However, I am surprised at the lack of a conversation around the casual sexist remarks passed by public personalities in the media in Pakistan. Junaid Jamshed has previously suggested that men should not teach their wives how to drive. In response to the recent controversy, Aamir Liaquat responded in kind with comments about Junaid Jamshed’s mother. We live ...

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The Why Chromosome

When speaking to a friend of mine on how to treat a lady, I was fairly shocked to find that he hadn’t a clue, really.  There seems to be confusion – a dearth of clear ground rules. When it comes to women, here’s what you should and shouldn’t do.   You should not stare as she walks past, or call her as a cat; Regardless of how she’s dressed, or if she’s thin or fat. Do not undress them with your eyes. Bite your cheap retorts. It’s really no business of yours, if she’s wearing shorts. “She should have worn more modest clothes to avoid catcalls.” Instead, perhaps the men should ...

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Real men do(n’t) cry

He was sharing some of his deepest secrets about his childhood; his fears, his regrets, his loss – of a loved one, of dreams, of time lost that could have been utilised better, of a life that could have been. I witnessed this man break some barriers in those moments as he dared to bare his soul, something men in our society are not taught to do. But most importantly, this man dared to cry, that too in front of a woman. In those moments, I saw bravery. Because he kept saying, “See? I’m crying. I didn’t even know I could cry ...

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Forced conversions in Pakistan: “Eeshwar kaun hai, Allah bol Allah!”

Scuffles and screams rang through the dark night. They were three and they were burly. They had her in a firm grip with her mouth gagged with a rough cloth. It was probably 11 or 12 o’clock at night. Not very late for a summer night but half the village had no electricity, so people turned in early. Her screams could have woken up the neighbours, if they had any. Theirs was a mud hut in a lone corner of the basti. She desperately tried to make as much noise as possible but it was of no use. The men had ...

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