Stories about women

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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Reyhaneh Jabbari lives on – even today

“The world allowed me to live for 19 years. That ominous night it was I that should have been killed. My body would have been thrown in some corner of the city, and after a few days, the police would have taken you to the coroner’s office to identify my body and there you would also learn that I had been raped as well. The murderer would have never been found since we don’t have their wealth and their power. Then you would have continued your life suffering and ashamed, and a few years later you would have died ...

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Only in Pakistan can women become ‘white’ and men restore their ‘manhood’ using soap

It is unfortunate that even in today’s day and age we have issues concerning gender identity. In fact, they have become more complex than ever and people are seen spewing offensive slurs at those whom they believe don’t adhere to their idea of a ‘specific’ gender. What is worse is that things don’t end at picking on effeminate men or masculine women; it goes as far as people wanting to restore traditional (read: ancient) gender roles where men are the bread winners for the whole family while women are ‘property’ that stay home, serve their men and pop out babies. As if hideous ...

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Why does marriage equal compromise in Pakistan?

I’m a 24-year-old woman and I am divorced. Yes, you heard right; I’m a 24-year-old divorced woman in a Pakistani society. I got divorced because my husband was suffering from depression, was taking pills without any proper prescription due to which he also had erectile dysfunction. He insisted that his pride and ego were more important than getting treatment and ensuring a healthy marriage. When I tried explaining the benefits of acquiring treatment he became abusive, leaving me with no option but separation. Our society, however, does not believe I made the right decision. Yes, it is easy to sit behind a ...

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Living with polio in Pakistan

“I always wanted to study but my dream to get higher education remained just that, a dream. I was unable to complete my Matric because of my disability. It would pain me immensely to see girls who were with me in school going to college and making something of themselves.” Maria, while wiping her tears, was discussing the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government’s new scheme regarding free education for the disabled. Maria is 32-years-old and is a resident of Gulbahar in Peshawar. She was diagnosed with polio when she was one-year-old, soon after she got her polio vaccination. She is currently living with her brother ...

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The spectacular, Oscar de la Renta

Gentlemen, gallant, extraordinary. These are the words which come to mind when Oscar de la Renta is mentioned. A man so great, he could make ordinary women feel extraordinary in his creations. With an experience in fashion which would be any budding designers dream résumé, Mr de la Renta was born in Santo Domingo in the early 30s. He moved to Spain at the age of 19 where he worked with Balenciaga, followed by an offer to work at Christian Dior. He turned down the proposition to work at Lanvin for two years, eventually making his way to America. In the land of ...

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Will #HeForShe work for me, a man?

The recent HeForShe campaign by Emma Watson, the UN Women goodwill ambassador, has gained significant repertoire, with many men posting pictures on Twitter and Facebook with placards, articulating their support for the campaign. The campaign speaks against gender violence and inequality. It is particularly a feminist movement and although it realises the bias against men, it does little beyond recognition. Emma herself stated that: “The more I have spoken about feminism the more I have realised that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating.” There is indeed a need for gender equality, and abuse against either should be equally condemned. Women are mostly ...

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Bravo, Jennifer Garner!

Jennifer Garner just did something wonderful, not just for herself, but for women globally. She accepted and celebrated her ‘baby bump’ and made the lives of her millions of followers easy. In an interview with Ellen DeGeneres, she graciously accepted, “Yes I have a ‘baby bump’. Hold up, I am not pregnant, but I’ve had three kids and there is a ‘bump’. From now on ladies, I will have a ‘bump’ and it will be my ‘baby bump’ and, let’s just all settle in and get used to it, it’s not going anywhere.” Her statement provoked an instant uproar, laughter and approval from ...

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Dear Iran, self-defense is not murder

The world celebrates and praises Malala Yousafzai – a Pakistani girl whose claim to fame was a bullet to her head, her fault being her desire to seek education – and while the world talks of empowering women, the world is perhaps ignorant of the plight of another young woman fighting for her life in neighbouring country, Iran. This brave, young woman happens to be 26-year old Reyhaneh Jabbari who can be put to death any time now, as her 10-day delay in execution ended last Wednesday. Her crime was stabbing a man to death, a man who tried to rape her. It was in ...

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