I am not your sister, mother or wife; I carry my own identity

Published: July 28, 2013

He stared at me, then brushed against me. I could not tolerate such a violation of my personal space. DESIGN: AREEBA KAMAL

Ripley’s believe it or not (the Pakistani version)

A woman physically attacked a man in a restaurant because he intruded her personal space. She tried to make him back down. There was a sense of injustice that spurred this violence because she wanted to drive home the fact that she has the same claim to her personal space as he did to his, both in public and private domains. She too is a human being and her claim to her space remains valid regardless of her gender.

It turns out the concept of being human is elusive, almost faded beyond recognition because the idea of gender classification is too deep-rooted.

The person in the above narrative is me.

I am a woman and if for some reason I happen to be treated like a respected human, I am expected to react in surprised gratitude. Because, really, if I walk into a coffee shop after midnight with a man who is a friend, I don’t fit the cookie cutter template of being someone’s wife or sister. But then, we are progressive now so even if the man accompanying me is my boyfriend, I will not be questioned.

Since he was neither and I was the only woman in the room, I was beyond being labelled.

Hence I am up for grabs – in this situation literally.

I am used to both men and women turning when I walk into a space. It’s flattering mostly, and in all honesty, if no one did, I would be offended. They turn and stare, but then they stop. This time, however, one man turned around and refused to go back to what he was doing. He kept staring; I gave him time, until it started to bother me.

I did however finish my coffee and dessert, a much needed intervention after a long work day. As I started to walk out, the same man brushed against me.

I reacted in a very un-lady-like fashion verbally at first; I asked him if he was missing his mother.

I said this because I wanted him to realise that I too am a woman as sacred as his mother would have been; my honour is equal.

He was taken aback and lashed out with a choice insult involving my anatomy.

That’s when I physically attacked him. And I didn’t back down, even after the initial shock of those around me faded, and they tried to stop me.

It was not fair – that’s what my premise was.

Eventually, I had to be dragged out. One of his friends followed and asked me to calm down since I was like ‘his sister’.  At this point, my temper soared again and I told him that I refuse to be associated as anyone’s sister, mother or wife because I am none of those – I carry my own dignity.

When I narrate this incident most people find it either an exaggeration or they start to lecture me against doing something of this sort again.

I probably will, however, because there is a strong sense of injustice here punctuated by the fact that my honour is defined by that of a man accompanying; both of these realities are things I will never agree with.

That evening, I walked out with some bruises but my pride was intact.

He probably went home confused though, with whatever scars I had inflicted.


Amna Iqbal

Amna Iqbal

Publications designer at The Express Tribune, she tweets @amna_iqb (twitter.com/amna_iqb)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Golden horde

    Well done!Recommend

  • JK

    You are one brave lady unlike majority of unprivileged Pakistani women.Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/Pugnate Noman Ansari

    Just don’t get hurt physically by these creeps!Recommend

  • http://India Feroz

    Amna, I am all for feminism and the rights of women, however the struggle for women like you will take years to see daylight and be very bumpy too. Living in a country where you are legally discriminated against on the basis of gender, needing four witnesses to prove rape, your struggle will be epic. You are unlikely to receive any support, unlikely from your own family too.
    Even though your body is yours and personal choices are solely your business in many countries you can be charged for pre marital sex too. Men will always want to dominate and enslave women and have conveniently used religion often as an ally to oppress and suppress. Remember there is no companion in the path of righteousness, the pain and suffering will be solely yours. I was as much if not more of an idealist at your age, the price I paid for fighting injustice wherever I saw it was simply beyond my capacity to bear, mind you it is much easier for a man. Your family will also throw brickbats at you because their capacity for sacrifice may not match yours. After decades if asked to rewind and restart I am not at all sure I would like to be an idealist, one more time. Recommend

  • Nandita.

    Loved this blog! Good for you Author :) Well done.

    Not so long ago, I was at a restaurant having a meal all by myself. There was a family ( husband, wife, and a toddler ) having a meal and they were on the table opposite mine. I was in the restaurant for half an hour or so. Throughout the entire meal the man at the opposite table kept staring at me in a filthy manner – I’m sure girls will understand what I mean by that. That made me feel incredibly uncomfortable. So after I paid for my meal I went up to their table and I insulted him in front of his wife. I told him, ” Don’t you have any shame ? When you’re with your wife you have the guts to stare and leer at other women, I wonder what you do when she is not around. You’re a disgusting man. ” And I walked off.
    He was so shocked at my reaction – he probably didn’t think I’d be brave enough to confront him but well he was in for a shock. I’m sure his wife must have made his life miserable after that. Maybe, that will teach him a lesson.

    There was another incident that took place sometime back. A few years ago, I was travelling alone by train from one part of the country to another.Sometime after midnight, I fell asleep. Later in the night, I felt hands on my body and someone’s breath on my face so I woke up startled – It was an old man – I recognized him as part of a huge family that was travelling in the same compartment. – I didn’t react at the time – just asked him to leave.And then all night I was sobbing and by the next morning I was furious. I did the same thing – I insulted the old man in front of his family. The man didn’t say a word in his defense. His family kept apologizing to me, none of them were shocked at my accusations. Which means they were aware that his old man did such things to girls. I was so sickened and disturbed by that incident.

    The point is shame/insult men in front of their families ( if the families are around that is )
    It’s a sick world out there. But just like the author, I will react as well when faced by such disgusting men. They deserve every bit of it.Recommend

  • Ahmed

    LOL. You talk about the path to righteousness and then you talk about pre-marital sex. You can have one of these, not both at the same time. Pre-marital sex destroys the moral fiber of a society and only if they(who do this) are punished by being flogged publicly can this menace be reduced.

    Secondly, think over why witnesses are required to prove rape. You’ll get it.

    Finally, what she did had nothing to do with religion or oppressing women. It was a pathetic act by a guy and a woman standing up for herself and nothing more.Recommend

  • Saima Khan

    In a patriarchal society like ours women are always defined in relation to the men in their lives.They’re daughters,sisters,wives,mothers, never themselves.They’re always given respect in relation to the men in their lives.Sadly,a lot our women promote this themselves.They inherently view the female gender as inferior,they go on valuing their sons over their daughters,valuing their brothers over their sisters.Pakistani women themselves promote misogyny,they let men dictate how they’ll live,they’ll go on living with an abusive husband,they’ll not take khula even when he humiliates them daily.By sticking with him they’re giving him all the power,because he knows that such women won’t go anywhere.
    It’s time our women stood upto the men in their families.Enough subjugation,it’s time we stood up for our rights.Recommend

  • hellraiser

    Well you have a feudal mindset. Why did you attack him? You need to learn from the idea that its better to make your point without using force.Recommend

  • Andaleeb

    I’ve met too many religious women in my life who propagate that women are the inferior gender and should act as such.It’s not just the men in our country who promote misogyny,the overwhelming majority of women are misogynistic in Pakistan also.But no one wants to talk about that.The feminists stay silent on such women,no one condemns these women.Such women who make excuses for their fathers,brothers,husbands,sons are the reason why the female gender is still oppressed in Pakistan.We need to have the guts to criticize both men and women who praise a patriarchal societal structure.Recommend

  • Javeria siddiqui

    That’s pathetic that some women are ‘offended’ if men don’t stare at them when they walk into a restaurant.That’s the sort of attitude that sets women back.Harasses use this excuse all the time that their victim ‘liked it’.Women who like being ogled and are ‘offended’ if men don’t stare need to get psychological help,they’re just making life difficult for the rest of normal women out there.Recommend

  • tania malik

    As long as girlfriends,fiances,wives don’t start leaving abusive partners,husbands the condition of Pakistani women won’t change.As long as people are willing to be slaves,the oppressors will continue oppressing.Recommend

  • psychedelic

    Kudos tho, for beating the crap out of the creep. Recommend

  • Mariam Akberali

    You are awesome. More power to you love <3Recommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/author/430/faraz-talat/ Faraz Talat

    Good one.

    The sheer stupidity of valuing a person not an an autonomous individual, but as somebody else’s belonging.Recommend

  • ishtiaq

    Liberals of our society sometimes do weird things to get attention.. Recommend

  • ZEN

    Proud of you! Well Done! Keep it up! More of this will make such men behave and respect another woman’s space. Recommend

  • huzaifa

    With my point of view of the above story, either it will not be published or i will be tagged as anti-feminist but still i will let my voice listened.

    Ms Amna Iqbal, why r u known with the name IQBAL and why not by the name of your mother?, because that is your identity. The nature has created the man and women and it is the nature’s verdict that they are not equal, not in physical power, not in emotional stability, not in body weight and structure, not and really not in anatomy.(keeping aside some exceptions). There are up and downs but when one really closes eyes and partially starts following western module of social structure where women are being exploited on the name of women’s freedom, there are some who for their personal independence try to follow it and experience such like events.

    Actually, you must be living in an isolated small island in this Muslim country where you can walk in a joint at midnight alone ( which many western women can not dare to do in today’s western culture and countries) you may be overture d, isn’t this happens in west once a lone women without company is spotted. ( she is taken to be looking for a companion).

    Now. here you are seems to be confused about your identity, either follow the complete western culture or embrace the local culture. The mid point hovering may cause you considerable emotional damage and may cause physical damage too. Recommend

  • DNA

    well done !!
    ive done the same to atleast half a dozen men in bazaars..restaurants..
    if all girls out there could stand up and confront and if required SLAP those creeps right there right then, im sure such filthy creatures would think ten times before laying their hands on seemingly benign EASY TARGETS…GIRLS !! stand up for yourselves now…its not the era where you should remain silent to SAVE your dignity…you have to CLAIM it and DEFEND it.Recommend

  • binger

    you are such a woman. Recommend

  • Ammad

    Way to go ladies…Recommend

  • http://Germany goggi (Lahore)

    The behavior of both the participants of the above situation is uncultured and completely wrong.

    The ultra-primitive religion of the Bedouins has not only distorted the natural social intercourse between the female and male, but also has estranged the humans from their own true nature.

    The fake inshallah mashallah Pakistani society, due to its unnatural segregation of genders, suffers from very grave inter-personal and very very very grave intra-personal conflicts.
    Intra-personal conflicts encompass all contradicting behaviors within the personality of the person.Recommend

  • LOL

    I am used to both men and women
    turning when I walk into a space. It’s
    flattering mostly, and in all honesty,
    if no one did, I would be offended.

    You are assuming you know why they turn though. j/k. Recommend

  • PR

    You did good! Wish more women here could be like you. Glad you put this up.Recommend

  • http://na deep

    @huzaifa: Your response makes perfect sense to you – because the blame lies with the woman – she is walking late at night, she is not dressed appropriately, she is alone…Just hope you are not caught in that situation and have to explain yourself – it is not about west or east – respect for another individual is a universal value and you deserve it as much as your brother or any other man. Recommend

  • GAP

    Oooooooowww…..I am scared.Recommend

  • Parvez

    WOW ! if the world had more Amna Iqbals and Nanditas it would certainly be………a better place ( yukh! that’s sooo obvious )……………. a place where men would look at women, appreciate what they see and then go about their business ( yukh! that sooo will never happen ).Recommend

  • KAY

    @ huzaifa: Amna is not talking about physical equality, she is talking about equality as a human for private and personal space. So sad you could not understand simple point and started bashing west where personal and private space is given utmost importance.

    @ ishtiaq: such people are not liberals, they are loafers. Recommend

  • http://trango.co/top-ten-linkedin-idiot/ Editor at Trango

    Next time, go for the throat. Repeat till he tears up.

    Source: Seven time Judo champion.Recommend

  • Faraan

    So you beat up a guy who was STARING at you??

    I mean now staring (you though so) at something is a crime now?Recommend

  • Manoj Joshi India

    With the advancement of civilisation and cultures; that are varied and diverse across the globe; there has evolved among humans a system of family and community living. Community living the smallest unit of which is the family that consists of parents and children; besides joint families that are still prevalent in South Asia; to society wherein different families coexist in harmony is what community living is all about. This is the gist of living together. Parents in the family consist of two persons who are accepted by society as man and wife and their progeny carry forward the family which continues to be an on going process. Women who during their life span play various roles beginning from the daughter of the family to a sister followed by the female spouse or wife, a mother, mother-in-law and finally a grandmother. This is the normal happening in life cycle of any human female. However the status of a woman has unfortunately never been perceived in parity with a man. No doubt biologically a female is weaker in strength when compared to a male of the same specie nevertheless in human society women remained secondary with regard to status within a family or for that matter even society. Although this is not a very pleasant fact but happens to be the bitter truth. Women are considered as physical objects more as objects for pleasure and physical enjoyment by the man of the family which despite the spread of education remains deeply ingrained in the human mind. A women who enjoys an almost equal status in any family is seen as female dominance and the man of the house is treated as a henpecked spouse. Within society women while passing through the various stages of life is expected to compromise more at every point which is many a times unjust but this compromise is what is perceived as a part of female virtue. Violence towards women has been an evil within society wherein modesty having been outraged of a woman is just one of them for there are cases of sexual harassment within the four walls of the house and at workplace that a woman faces and besides eve teasing of being groped at public places. These are forms of violence some of which are physical while other hurt the self esteem of a woman. The basic thought towards women by men unfortunately remains unchanged and they continue to treat women as products of use. Thus justification given by analysts and intellectuals is that man is a polygamous creature like any other male of the mammal species hence his approach towards women is bound to be more physical. This is what moots a point of debate as to how this problem can be resolved or solved amicable? Has monogamy been the cause? Should polygamy as had been the norm of society during the medieval times the remedy that can check rapes, sexual harassment and molestation of women? The answers are not as simple as they may seem for any debate in this regard has seldom proved to be conclusive. There is however a point that needs to be driven whether by enlightening the people or men else by coercive action of the law that women should be given the desired status within society that is at par with men. The biological constraints should not be the factors that should undermine the status of any woman in a family or society.Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/AamAwam Ms. Farooqi

    Inferior or not this is what every one of us out there should do. Its amazing when we react and if thats in avilent way they conveniently make us their sisters. Yeah right!
    I was once poked by a man sitting beside me in the busI stood up and without blinking for a second slapped hima d started yelling and made him get off the bus.
    Some gave me weird stares becasue of course many ust change their seat and avoid an uncomfortable incident but like Amna said. At least i had my pride intact that i didnt let him get away with it. Not without public humiliation.Recommend

  • Mehdi


    Agreed. Well said.Recommend

  • Mehdi


    Very well done. I went to college in US and I am a Shia Muslim. I had many female friends who used to dress up “scantily” and no guys in US ever used to leer at them or used to feel them up. It only happens in Muslim countries because men are so sexually repressed. They have forgotten Islam, it teaches us not to gaze at other women negatively. Islam is not at all practiced in Islam. It is something else.

    Allow me to digress, can you please tell me what is ET moderation policies. I have been trying to ascertain their formal policy statement. Can you please help me.Recommend

  • Katarina

    Violence is never right. If someone is behaving badly total ignorance or verbal strong message that is behaving badly. Best way if you succeed to ridicule the offender in an elegant way with a small smile telling him that you do not bother what small creeps like him is doing. Recommend


    I don’t mean to venture into the territory of colloquialisms and semantics but I’d say being someone’s mother, sister or wife is no handicap. Of course, it doesn’t define who you are as a person but it builds upon it. I am a brother and I’m very heckled, concerned but eventually proud of my identity of being one. The roles you play in a family don’t necessarily diminish your individuality.Recommend

  • Insaan

    Author: “I am used to both men and women turning when I walk into a space. It’s flattering mostly, and in all honesty, if no one did, I would be offended. They turn and stare, but then they stop. This time, however, one man turned around and refused to go back to what he was doing. He kept staring; I gave him time, until it started to bother me.”

    You enjoy when people turn back and stare at you. This guy kept staring at you. I bet you acknowledge in some way when some one turns back and stares at you. It is possible POOR guy thought you are enjoying his attention.

    To know some one is STARING at some one they have to keep looking back and that may send the wrong signal ” I like it too.”

    You could have totally ignored the guy.

    You also say “you would be offended if no one looked at you when you walk into a apace.”Recommend

  • Ahmed

    change your name to Amna AmnaRecommend

  • Mehdi


    She was touched physically, can you please read between the lines. If you cannot discern, I can give you a lesson or two on English compherension :)Recommend

  • gp65

    @huzaifa: “Actually, you must be living in an isolated small island in this Muslim country where you can walk in a joint at midnight alone ( which many western women can not dare to do in today’s western culture and countries) you may be overture d, isn’t this happens in west once a lone women without company is spotted. ( she is taken to be looking for a companion).”

    Making stuff up are we? I go to restaurants by myself all the time. Never have been bothered.

    In any case if the point you are making is that women are not as physically string as men and hence deserve to be treated poorly then you are endorsing jungle raj where might is right. Also for someone who quotes religion at drop of the hat, what happened to the direction of lowering one’s gaze. Was the man following it? Recommend

  • colonel faridi

    Your name is Amna Iqbal. I bet Iqbal is either your father or husband. You are known with this name and you willingly use this name to get published. Had the extremist emotions you expressed in the article been true, your name, Amna Iqbal, wiould not have been there on the top of the article. It would have been just Amna. Recommend

  • kanwal
  • Insaan

    @Ms. Farooqi: I was once poked by a man sitting beside me in the busI stood up and without blinking for a second slapped him and started yelling and made him get off the bus.

    In Pakistan if you use public transport or go to crowded places it must be a common occurrence being touched or accidently brushed. I guess the guy went a little far. My source for information is blogs and news about Pakistan on the Internet.Recommend

  • Ashfaq

    Being a sister, mother or wife does not violate your dignity. Being independent is good, being wild is another thing. Recommend

  • Insaan

    @Amna “One of his friends followed and asked me to calm down since I was like ‘his sister’. At this point, my temper soared again”

    Do Muslim men really mean “sister” when they call a stranger young Muslim woman as sister?

    You could have easily said, “I am not your sister.”
    Why your temper soared? Recommend

  • Thinker

    Have you lived in west? Your statement about women not daring to walk alone into a joint is inaccurate. I have done that multiple times…. Though I would not do that in a seedy area. I have also walked by myself on the road in the middle of the night all alone and driving by myself at any hour of the day or night is never an issue.

    Yes men and women are not created equal but that does not give anyone the right to violate other’s personal space.

    Yes there is exploitation of women that happens in west and yet it is still so much better than in South Asia. At least I am not leched at or touched or groped anytime I am in a crowd or out by myself. My character is not judged by who I am with or what I am wearing. And yes if I am ever subjected to violence at home or outside, I trust the system to take that seriously and support me. And yes, my only goal in life would not be to get married and breed children.Recommend

  • manzar bashir

    awwww….. :) these are not the problems of even 0.1 % of our women dear person

    dining in fancy coffee houses.. Sorry that rich girl had to fight off rich boys Recommend

  • Thinker

    I do not think that author meant that the relationship is a handicap but the problem is when your whole identity is based upon that relationship. Often times on ET you see comments of men saying ‘how can you allow your sister, or wife, to do this’ on inane things such as dress and going out and driving etc…… Why should my brother or husband have to ‘allow’ or ‘disallow’ me anything if I am a mature adult.

    I love men in my life …my dad, brother… Etc but I am also an individual by my own right. I can tell you several incidents where I was totally sidelined just because I am a woman…. For example when I bought my car, even though I am the one paying for it, the dealer would totally ignore me and choose to talk to my brother. When I need to decide my investments, the guy very politely asks if he can talk to my husband instead of me…. Such small incidents but still disturbing.Recommend

  • Thinker

    The guy touched her inappropriately. As a woman I also consider it an act of violence against me. If a guy gropes me, I have every right to slap him back. Recommend

  • Woman

    Have u ever been lechec at. Do u have any idea how slimy it feels? And she did not hit him for staring, the guy had touched her. Recommend

  • Sohail Ansari

    Well done Amana. For having the courage to beat the creep but also to be brave to write this blog. Keep up the fight!!!Recommend

  • Mehdi

    @colonel faridi:
    I am sorry if you stated your opinion as sarcasm. If that is not the case then I stand corrected.Recommend

  • Mehdi

    Islam is not practiced in Pakistan. Correction to my typo.Recommend

  • Mehdi


    Change your name to Ahmed al extremist :)Recommend

  • Zoom

    @colonel faridi:
    Weird logic. It has been a male dominated world and hence the norm for wives and children to take up husband’s or father’s name. I am sure she would not have a problem if the social norm was to use the mother’s name.

    And what do you mean by ‘extremist emotions’? A woman reacting to someone being offensive towards her is being extremist? Or is it extremist to want your own identity separate from that of others around you?Recommend

  • Expat

    Women need to speak up, too many women remain silent after they have been abused. I totally support the slapping by the blogger after the miscreant had sexually assaulted her. Many men think they can get away with it. I agree with the blogger that the mentality of these men is so wrong. I happened to have interfered a few times when women were harassed in the street. The abusers first aggressive response was often: “tere qiha behn laghte hai”? Meaning, if she is not your sister, she is fair game and don’t bother us then. I applaud the blogger for her defiance. The misogynous mentality of these men is so entrenched that you need a stick to kick it out.Recommend

  • Insaan

    Amna “I reacted in a very un-lady-like fashion verbally at first; I asked him if he was missing his mother. I wanted him to realise that I too am a woman as sacred as his mother would have been; my honour is equal. He was taken aback and lashed out with a choice insult involving my anatomy.That’s when I physically attacked him.”

    How did the man brush against you? Was the place crowded?


  • http://twitter.com/bohotsaara Sarah B. Haider

    Bravo! I admire your courage!

    However, more then men, it is the women who discourage you to raise your voice agaist the perpetrators. Once I physically attacked a man with my notebook when he groped me twice in public and my own dear female friends stopped and warned me,

    “What if he starts following you and abducts you?”
    “What if he rapes you?”
    “What if he throws acid on your face?”
    “What if he becomes your bitter enemy and hurts one of your family members?”

    One girl even told me,

    “That’s not how a dignified lady reacts.”

    I was a teenager at that time, and these comments actually discouraged me to a great extent. I actually got scared of the possible repercussions of this act of self-defense.

    It’s the society that encourages men to exercise their ‘superiority’ over women, even if it calls for carrying out perverse acts. Ignoring and enduring harrassment is what actually our society considers, “reaction of a dignified lady”.Recommend

  • Insaan

    @Thinker: For example when I bought my car, even though I am the one paying for it, the dealer would totally ignore me and choose to talk to my brother. When I need to decide my investments, the guy very politely asks if he can talk to my husband instead of me…. Such small incidents but still disturbing.

    I guess investment consultant assumed you are married. I don’t know about the car Salesman.

    If a married couple is doing some thing, it becomes easier for a salesmen to sell when both husband and wife are present there. If car salesman knew you were single and buying the car, he should have talked to you.

    If car salesman felt your brother was going to be the decision maker, he could have paid more attention to him.

    If you want to buy some thing no one would side line you. I guess people get confused about your marital status, I don’t think they intentionally side line you.

    Where ever you live, don’t walk in the middle of the road at night alone.Recommend

  • Talat Haque

    So glad you did what you did and said what you said – right on!Recommend

  • Think again

    @ Hell raiser

    He touched her . That’s why she attacked him ( and aimed a verbal obscenity at her )

    If his insult was verbal alone, you could ask her about why she used force.Recommend

  • Think again

    @ goggi (Lahore)

    What are you going on about dude ?!Recommend

  • Muhammad

    Absolute freedom does not exist and there is no equality among male and female. The world’s women-degradation-factory is running in the west and earning 4 times the profit of Hollywood but I do not see any feminist organization to raise voice against the californian-factory, the centre of degradation and Mekah of disrespect for women. Every minute a women is being raped in the US but no one among feminist block address the core of it. Why?Recommend

  • Silas

    You are a misogynist Recommend

  • Sundas

    He brushed past. what part of that don’t you understand?Recommend

  • Sundas

    @goggi (Lahore):
    where does whatever you are suggesting allow brushing past and invading personal space is allowed?Recommend


    Thank you for raising your concerns. Small as it may seem, there are many petty men who work to undermine your authority and independence. I have little to offer other than my earnest sympathies and I hope you don’t see every man in your life through the same lens.

    To be truthful, I used to be one of such clowns who refused to grant women of any personality as they’re insecure of their intellectual fortitude. But I never realized that I was biased against women till someone pointed it out to me….a hundred times before I started to pay attention. So don’t count us all out just yet, we love our dramatic entries in the last act!Recommend

  • Sundas


    Your words come so respectfully and out of good faith. But you miss out the point. You can be proud of your role as a brother because deep down you KNOW you have your own identity in the society. No woman (or man for that matter) can brush past you, touch you or poke at you without your consent. Women, on the other hand, in societies like ours, have to be associated with some male person to be KNOWN. there is a difference between willingly choosing to be known for one’s certain role and having it shoved down your throat. This is becoming A MAJOR SOURCE OF FRUSTRATION AMONG YOUNG WOMEN, INCLUDING ME, OTHERS MY AGE AND THOSE YOUNGER TO ME. This, sir, is a fact. How many replies here do you see of women saying similar incidents have happened to them? how can you be sure they have not happened to your sisters? ( no disrespect intended, i am a woman myself). I have had to face the brushing past and touching at least thrice. ( and i don’t go around scantily dressed—for those very inquisitive, i can say i wear the abayya). the only good thing i can remind myself of those 3 incidents is that each time the men were cowards, with no guts to stand there and face consequences-moving out of sight in a milliseconds. So you see, whether or not i am accompanied by a male, i retain the right to be respected. Whether or not i have a brother or a husband or someone in personal life has got nothing to do with it. so, i am no one’s sister, wife or daughter. I have my own identity. Take care. Recommend

  • S

    @colonel faridi:

    colonel sir, that was the lamest point out of all replies to this post.Recommend

  • S


    she didn’t say come brush against me. Recommend

  • S

    @manzar bashir:

    I dont dine off fancy places but idiots have brushed past me. what are you sorry for about now?Recommend

  • Nasir

    @Ahmed: Wrong, pre-marital sex does not destroy the moral fibre of a society, it is the public flogging that has created this kind of menace in the first place.


  • Insaan

    @Nandita.: Throughout the entire meal the man at the opposite table kept staring at me in a filthy manner – I’m sure girls will understand what I mean by that.

    How do you know he kept looking at you throughout the entire meal? Did you keep looking back to see if he was still staring at you? If you had not looked back repeatedly, it would not have made any difference if the guy was staring at you or not in a nice or filthy manner. Recommend

  • Puppet Guy

    Of course the author has the right to carry her dignity. Its her free will. Recommend

  • Naveen

    All power to you Woman. Would be great if one hears more about the larger women’s rights movement and feminist activism in Pakistan. Never heard much about it, except for a small pic that I once saw in one of our local newspaper’s ‘Rang Birangi Dunia’ page of a small bunch of Aurat Foundation volunteers protesting on an issue that I fail to recollect. Recommend

  • Hina

    I was once walking on MA Jinnah road with my mom after sunset and this street vendor (with stick that has candies hanging on them) passed by me and brushed his hands against my body as he walked past. I don’t know what happened to me, but I leaped forward, grabbed him by his collar, punched him God knows how many gazillion times, and my mom kept screaming for help. Then some guys took over to teach him a lesson. This is one incidence, I am proud of, and I hope he learnt a lesson for life! We need more woman to be brave and teach these cowards a lesson. Recommend

  • Fahad

    Don’t blame whole ‘society’ as only a small minority is able of going to a coffee shop in Pakistan. Recommend

  • iStare

    Next time be careful. Starers are physically fit and proud of their manhood. Just saying!Recommend

  • Florence

    So proud of you!Recommend

  • Indi-Pop

    So proud of you, Miss!Recommend

  • Adeel

    I think,u made the wrong move as the person could make equal blows and attack u back.Because it takes seconds for a man to go out of his mind Recommend

  • Bilal

    You say to the first guy “If he is missing his mother” to make him realize you too are a women as sacred as her mother would have been that you have the same honor, and yet you lash out at the other guy for calling you his sister!! was he not giving you the honor you wanted. Just decide what you really want! because the first guy treated you like a women, a women roams late at night with other guys, the second treated you with respect, respect he gives to his sister.Recommend

  • Human

    WELL Done

    & all ladies shud do the same
    never back down .


  • israr khan

    i totally agreed with u , what u did was the right thing and what rubbish happened , need not to b , i also appreciate your reaction any one instead of you would the same Recommend

  • Shah (Berlin)

    You know wht happend with you was not right at all. But the way you wrote this blog is completely arrogant with no cultured argument…..
    Some one calls you like your sister, to give you respect. Not to disgrace you…..
    Now if you are soooo fond of your only identity thn fi9 thn keep your attitude to yourself no need to disgrace the whole society for it…..

    Now regarding wht happnd with you was completely wrong and the guy shoudl hve been taught a lesson..I must remind you most of the time in public places teh guy gets the punishment directly….and I personlly think tht gov should do more to curtail such issues in a more decent manner….

    In any case must also remind you tht when ever you will make a couple with some one boyfriend or old school husband..your identity will CHANGE and so will HIS….Either you learn it the easy way or the hard way…man and woman both have to give and take…!!!!!!!Recommend

  • Sidrah Moiz Khan

    Awesome stuff, Amna. I would have done the same!Recommend

  • Shah (Berlin)


    This shoudl be done…such guys should be taught a lesson…Recommend

  • Uzair

    As a male I’ll say it straight, loud, and clear: women are equal human beings, and we must get rid of the tribal patriarchal system foisted on us by the Arabs. Women are not property of men, and a woman has a right to work, love, and dress as much as a man.Recommend

  • Ali

    Its funny how the writer first draws comparison with the guy’s mother and later shows her refusal to accept any association of that sort…just shows how temperamentally confused women in general are.. :)Recommend

  • Another woman

    The comments by men here calling the author confused, having double standards etc just indicate how HARD it is for them to comprehend any situation in which a woman decides to take a stand. Some people are EVEN defending behavior of men on public transport attributing it to rush etc. Do you REALLY think I am an idiot that I won’t be able to differentiate between an accidental brush and someone trying to get a good feel…? Keep refusing to see facts and society will continue to spiral downwards

    I LOVE the author’s attitude. Exactly what I would (and still do) if someone tried to get to cozy (even if it was staring) with me. I used to travel by bus/coach to my university and the number of times I have caught men single-handedly staring or trying to get a nice feel has made me the desi-man hater I am today. Yes yes, I am SURE there are shareef men out there, but they are FAR and FEW. The man on the road WILL try to touch a woman ANY chance he will get

    (…and this is where all the self-righteous pait main daree wali mard will jump and start accusing me of ‘asking for it’ by dressing, walking, talking etc in a certain way…)Recommend

  • Insaan

    @Another woman: I have caught men single-handedly staring or trying to get a nice feel has made me the desi-man hater I am today. The man on the road WILL try to touch a woman ANY chance he will get

    Author says “I am used to both men and women turning when I walk into a space. It’s flattering mostly, and in all honesty, if no one did, I would be offended. They turn and stare, but then they stop.”

    Do you also feel the same way as the author?

    I am 100% against harassment of women/girls by men. Recommend

  • mAS

    We really are hypocrite. imagine the scene was other way around. Recommend

  • Shah (Berlin)

    @Another woman:

    Excuse me ..please go through all the post…90% men here are saying tht wht the other guy has done was totally wrong…
    Some are giving other advices but no one said tht it was a mistake …..

    Secondly the author attitude on the whole is whts bothering some people here which has nothing to do tht she is a female…even a male with arrogant attitude are not liked….!!!!!Recommend

  • http://iexpressblog.wordpress.com Faiza

    Great job! I’m so proud of you. We outta be brave enough to fight for our own self. Nobody else will stand up for us. I hope all women seek inspiration from you. We are respected individuals and not some public property to be touched, used and/or abused by anyone. Gotta teach them a lesson.Recommend

  • Insaan

    @Sundas: I have had to face the brushing past and touching at least thrice. i wear the abaya. i am no one’s sister, wife or daughter. I have my own identity. Take care.

    That just shows “abaya or burqa” can’t save a woman from being sexually harassed even in public in Pakistan.

    I support women as equal to men in all respects. I am totally against beating of wives by husbands in the name of religion or for any reason.Recommend



    Thank you for your detailed response. I seem to have struck a foul note with the women in attendance here. My earnestness to gauge the degree of marginalization the writer faced could only take me so far, beyond that point comes the disconnect(perhaps even apathy) on account of my gender.

    That said, there needs to be a bifurcation between the incident and the individual. My comment was a compartmentalized blurb on familial archetypes. A woman’s identity is strictly her domain and I applaud the writer for not compromising. All I added was that the so-called socially approved classifications of identity needn’t be an albatross around your neck.

    This is not to say that you need to dissolve your personality in order to conform. The quintessential difference between the writer and the several women who have come forward with their experiences is that Amna made sure that her voice stays relevant for debate and discussion. Which is what her true identity is in my estimation, something that needs to be earned and not handed out like entitlements. Recommend

  • Murthy

    Generally it is an accepted fact that women are not treated equally in the subcontinent and the latest diktat in Pakistan that I read about–women being forbidden from going to public places without being accompanied by a male member of the family–only confirms the mindset of a male-centred and male-dominant society. Well, only wide-spread education can change this attitude, which will take a generation. The writer is absolutely right in asserting her right to her individuality and need not rely on the condescending approval of a male be it her brother, father or an uncle. But, I wonder whether an illiterate or a non-elite woman in the place of the writer would have been able to react in the same way. Real freedom, Gandhi once said, is when a woman will be able to walk alone at midnight without coming to any harm. Unfortunately, that kind of ideal freedom is not available to women in the subcontinent. Recommend

  • Manoj Joshi India

    The identity of women in South Asia have since the last couple of decades undergone changes so also has their status in the family and society. The general social acceptance of a woman; in the prevalent patriarchal society; has been that of a mother, sister, wife or aunt but, seldom as a friend of equal position. The aspect of an equal friend holds true, in case of a friendship of any woman with another man. This relationship is seldom perceived as a healthy relationship of pure friendship as various social riders are added to the relationship. The prevailing convention with regard to women has been that of a person who at the most holds the status next to the man but seldom is the woman considered suitable for being the head of a family. The matriarchal societies are an exception.The man has remained the head of the family wherein the role of the woman has been that of a consort. The change in this social matrix although quite poignant is still not strong enough to push forward the status of a woman at par with a man. The need is to change the social perception and the mindset of the man towards a woman who treats the latter more of a physical object and not as a human being of equal stature. In families the girl or daughter is at time deprived of certain privileges as the family feels that she will be married off in the future hence any heavy investment with regard to education on the girl shall be not a very viable proposition. Such prevalent conventions are responsible for having undermined the status of the woman. A woman as the head of a family is seldom considered as an acceptable norm and if there are any exceptions the status of the man lacerated or treated with the least of respect and regard. A henpecked husband as the term goes is used for men who treat their spouse at par. These conventions and perceptions need to be changed and norms that have for centuries promoted male chauvinism should be laid to rest.Recommend

  • Thinker

    Hi Insaan

    I am usually not someone who will make instant judgments or overreact. Please do credit me with intelligence to know when I am being literally sidelined versus when there is a misunderstanding on the other’s part.

    So to relate the literal incident about my investments example…. The bank guy knew it was my bank account. He still asked me if my husband can be there to make the decision while I had been tàlking about my investment plan.
    Then when I clarified that I am single…. Immediately his tone changed where he was complimenting me about sweetness of my voice etc….. So what would you make of that?

    I can give you more details about the other incident too…. But do you really find it hard to believe that most women who have lived in South Asia have been subjected to discrimination and some level of molestation. I faced multiple such incidents in crowded places as a teenager and later. As a 13-14 year old being subjected to such acts by men of all ages left me with so much lack of confidence and confusion and internalization of guilt…. It took me a few years to get over that.

    Btw thanks for your advice about not walking alone in night…. Those were my student days when visits to library, rushed deadlines, etc necessitated that. I do make sure that I am in a crowded area when I do that though nowadays I often just opt to drive.Recommend

  • alferd e neuman

    but yeah… that guy who brushed against her should be beat up or cained in public… down with rapers and molesters… but still.. the writer should make me a pie…Recommend

  • Insaan

    Author: “I am used to both men and women turning when I walk into a space. It’s flattering mostly, and in all honesty, if no one did, I would be offended”

    Is it common in Pakistan for women to check out other women like author mentioned above? How do a woman feel when another woman checks her out? How do a woman feel when a man accompanying her checks out all the women he sees in his space?

    Do women enjoy when men look at them?Recommend