aneka.chohan

Aneka Chohan

The author is a freelance journalist and human rights activist. She tweets as @anekachohan (twitter.com/anekachohan)

Dear Imran Khan, please use your mind before you use your tongue. Sincerely, feminism

“I disagree with the feminist movement that has degraded the role of a mother,” said Imran Khan. Wait… what?! That was my initial reaction when Imran’s words flashed on the news website. I blinked in confusion and re-read the words, thinking I may have misread them due to tiredness or lack of sleep. But no. There it was, as clear as rain – feminism apparently “degraded” motherhood. The feminism movement in the West has 'degraded' the role of a mother Imran Khan? Really?! #PTI pic.twitter.com/UwIpEeADil — Bilal Farooqi (@bilalfqi) June 17, 2018 Like most people who took to social media to protest how shocked ...

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Are forced marriages a form of modern-day slavery?

In one of the old dictionaries I’ve been using since my school days, the definition for ‘forced marriage’ is: “A marriage in which one or both of the parties is married without his or her consent or against his or her will.” Growing up in Britain and in an Asian community, I’ve heard countless stories of young girls – at the young age of 16, even before they’ve received their exam results – being taken abroad for a ‘family holiday’, only to discover one evening that the very next day was their wedding. It even happened to one girl I ...

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Dear Pakistani women, a menstrual cup will not make you “lose your virginity”

Menstruation – the one time of the month that most girls and women dread. The number of visits to the bathroom increases, while the prospect of wearing white has never seemed more frightening. Home remedies and the odd paracetamol sound like the ideal solution; if only we weren’t preoccupied with the agony of abdominal pain that comes along with the package. Also part of the package is making sure that our bathrooms, handbags and coat pockets are well stocked with sanitary pads. However, this is a privilege only afforded to women on one side of the world. On the other ...

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#IamParis, #IamLondon, #IamKabul, #IamManchester – but what about #IamSomalia?

I was at my desk, typing away on my laptop when my friend decided to lean in and see what I was working on. Her jaw dropped open as she read the headline: ‘Somalia to announce state of war on al Shabab’. She asks me what happened to bring this on, and I got up from my seat to let her read the news herself. After several minutes, she turned around and stared at me, stunned. “Why wasn’t this on the news?” she asked. To be honest, I ended up asking myself that very same question, and I didn’t have an answer. Positioned ...

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Can a 12-year-old consent to rape?

A young child, no older than 12, lies unconscious in the hospital. She has been picked up by her family from her employer’s place of residence and taken to the hospital after repeated episodes of the child falling in and out of consciousness. The doctor’s diagnosis? The child, a 12-year-old girl, has been sexually assaulted. As I sat with my friend scrolling through my phone reading the news story, I sighed running my hand through my hair. When she asked what the matter was, I showed her the story, letting her read it rather than me telling her. She shook her head and said that ...

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“If a rape victim marries her rapist, she will not have a bleak future”: Well done, Malaysia

“The thing is, they have an opportunity – with a marriage they can lead a healthy and good life.” These are the words of Shabudin Yahya, a Malaysian Member of Parliament (MP) for the ruling coalition party, when referring to rape victims. The outrage doesn’t stop there, however, since the MP went on to say, “For a woman that was raped, if she can marry (her rapist) she would not go through such a bleak future. At least she has someone who can become her husband. So this will be a remedy for social problems.” Shocked as I was, I pushed the laptop to ...

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Is child sexual assault or rape, in this day and age, still excusable?

Right across the Turkish capital, Istanbul, countless people are huddled together clutching boards and posters in a form of protest. Turkey has been struggling with a number of political problems and most of them are associated with the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) in neighbouring war-torn Syria. But this time, unlike the others, this problem doesn’t have anything to do with ISIS but is triggered by troubling issues inside the country. A new Turkish bill has been proposed which pardons men from crime and punishment if they marry the victim they raped. Thousands of women were outraged. Human rights groups were ...

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What happens when your 12-year-old surfing the internet is exposed to porn?

“The boy had told her if she didn’t have sex ‘she wouldn’t be his sister any more’”. That’s what the prosecutor said; standing in a British court room during the trial. The young girl – aged under nine – suffered these disturbing acts one after the other and kept her silence – pressurised and blackmailed like nearly all victims are. Her next decision? She went and confided in her mother after which he used the same defence tactic that she had ‘consented’ for sex. Many victims find their stories go unheard and ignored when the possibility of ‘consensual sex’ begins to loom around. ...

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“Oh, it’s just a small cut so why are you complaining?”

“Oh, it’s just a small cut so why are you complaining?” Those are the words of Filzah Sumartono from AWARE – a group dedicated to women’s rights – when she tries to talk about the taboo subject with members of her community. It is astounding that people avoid this topic with a wave of the hand, branding it as a “small cut” especially when the effects of such a procedure can be damaging – both physically and mentally. According to Orchid Project, girls and women can suffer from emotional distress throughout their lives, not to mention having feelings of fear, helplessness, ...

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I’ll wait for you

The look of anguish on your face, As you ran away from my embrace, My mind and heart cannot forget, And yearns for the affection I deserve to get.   The way you left; the car drove away, My days became dark and grey. My eyes desperately searched and followed you, And the desire for a loving look grew.   My whispered goodbye; you did not hear? Nor the way my heart began to tear? Hot tears burning in my eyes, you did not see? Nor the desperation I held in my plea?   Your smile, I yearned to receive, But watched, helplessly and reluctantly, leave, Their argument ripped us apart, The painful moment piercing me like ...

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