Stories published in October, 2017

Saudi women are eager to take the wheel, but are they ready to be harassed even more?

On September 26th, a much-awaited milestone was achieved in Saudi Arabia – a royal decree issued by King Salman that allows Saudi women to drive. The Kingdom, which received much backlash for being the only country in the world that doesn’t already allow women to drive, has finally been relieved of this tarnish. Saudi women will no longer need their guardians’ permission to obtain a driving license nor need a man present with them in the car. After decades of struggle to get the ban uplifted, people took to social media to welcome the landmark decision, which is part of new reforms in the ...

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The women of Kohistan suffer in silence as they search for water that doesn’t exist

Hazoora, a 24-year-old native of Kohistan (an arid piece of land located near Thatta), complains that her hair is falling due to transporting heavy cans of water on her head since she was eight-years-old. She travels approximately one to eight kilometres every day to fetch her share of water, and her body aches from carrying six to seven buckets of water daily for domestic needs. Even her pregnancy did not put an end to her ordeal since water is not a commodity one can live without. This is not just Hazoora’s plight, but the plight of thousands of women living in this ...

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Squash comes home – but do we care?

The Professional Squash Association (PSA) just announced the sanctioning of two major (M50 and W25 Level) squash events in Pakistan. The events will be held in Islamabad and they are expected to be the largest squash events in Pakistan. This is a ray of hope for squash in Pakistan, which before the retirement of Jansher Khan used to be one of the most widely celebrated and played sports in our country. Once upon a time, squash had an organised infrastructure for its development within Pakistan and for the nurturing of aspiring talented players. However, as of recent, the level of the game has gone down as ...

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Are the German election results and the Catalonia referendum a wake up call for the EU?

Major political decisions of Spain’s Catalonia region and Germany’s former Prussia, (lately East Germany), are influenced by their history despite their distinct means and objectives. Both are trying to shape a future perceived to be compatible with the historical perspective of their self-image. While many Catalonians seek independence from Spain, Germany happily reunited in 1990 and is now seeing its political power balance imperceptibly mutating. In the long-term, both can stoke a crisis of unity within sovereign member states and the European Union (EU). Catalonian demands for independence will encourage simmering independence movements in Spain, Belgium, the United Kingdom, France and ...

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Will Annihilation be to Natalie Portman what Alien and Terminator were for Sigourney Weaver and Linda Hamilton?

While movies should solely be judged on artistic merit, contemporary cinema is not lucky enough to have been afforded this particular luxury. Amongst various other influences, one factor that can really seal the fate of a modern movie is whether it can pass the Bechdel Test. For the uninitiated, the Bechdel Test asks whether a work of fiction features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man in the movie. While the aforementioned test might sound arbitrary to some, its primary purpose is to call attention to gender inequality in fiction. For the record, numerous of recent ...

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Motherhood may be great, but pregnancy is more pain than pleasure

“Don’t take any stress when you’re expecting!” — a stressful comment every pregnant woman has to hear at some point — because everybody knows pregnancy is a low stress endeavour. On the contrary, the question we should be asking is; do pregnant women have any reason not to take stress? A lack of emotional support or being surrounded by negativity during one’s pregnancy will always be accompanied by high levels of stress, which directly affects the woman’s health and through her, the baby’s health as well. These stress levels automatically increase if you are pregnant and if you are a working woman as well. In such ...

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Body-shaming Kareena Kapoor’s “fat legs” post pregnancy? Because giving birth to a human being isn’t painful enough for women?

To think that after the global backlash against the shamers of Mahira Khan, the world of shamers would take the back seat, is indeed just a hopeful thought. Khan got slut-shamed over her choice of clothes (the dress, by the way, is really sexy!) and for smoking a cigarette because smoking cigarettes automatically turns women into ‘unreputable women’.  Kareena Kapoor was shamed on Instagram shortly after the Khan incident for having ‘fat legs’. The Indian actress, who just gave birth to her son Taimur Ali Khan, has remained an inspiration for new moms as well as moms-to-be. During her pregnancy, she flaunted her baby bump unapologetically when ...

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If you have seen Mission Impossible, Jason Bourne or Taken, then you have already seen American Assassin

With James Bond and Jason Bourne on a temporary hiatus, and Jack Reacher likely on a permanent one, the espionage and spy-thriller market in Hollywood has been left largely untapped. So it makes sense that American Assassin ‒ based on the first book in a long-running series of spy novels by author Vince Flynn ‒ would swoop in and try to make easy money at the box office. Dylan O’Brien, star of the Maze Runner series, plays Mitch Rapp, a man on a path of vengeance. The film opens two years earlier on a beach in Ibiza, Spain where Mitch ...

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If the US does not recognise its glaring gun problem after the deadliest mass shooting, it never will

“Why are they not calling it terrorism,” was the text of the WhatsApp message I received from my wife as the news of the latest and deadliest mass shooting in Las Vegas spread. I replied by saying that terrorism by definition is a deliberate act conducted for achieving some political and ideological end. This kind of shooting cannot be called terrorism as it is more likely to be an outcome of a mental disorder. It was an inhumane and horrific act, but still cannot be called terrorism. But I understand as to why she, and for that matter many other Muslims, wanted it ...

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“Tera baap jaraha hai”: When police officers remind the common man of their place in society

How many times have you wondered why you are stuck in a traffic jam? And then received your answer in the form of a trail of police cars zooming by? I’ve cursed these cars more than I have cursed George RR Martin during the course of my life. Living in Karachi, it is hard enough facing the frustrating traffic every day, but to have these VIP protocols block the roads further adds to my misery. Recently, a video went viral on social media where a man was filming a VIP protocol driving in front of him. It showed the police vans stopping in the middle of the ...

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