Boys want to have fun too

Published: September 29, 2010

Many recreational activities in Karachi are off limits to single men (or groups of males).

What comes to your mind when you think of Karachi? The magnificent sea , ever-glowing lights , loadshedding, paan gutka and for me – gender discrimination. Yup. life is so not fair for the unfair sex in the capital of Sindh.

I would have never noticed such discrimination had I been living in Karachi with my family. It was only when I came back to the city to pursue higher studies that I perceived the stark discrimination. The practice here is that all the trendy hang outs, parks, recreational spots are restricted to families only. As harsh as it seems this would still be reasonable if it were to apply to both sexes. But no, in this gender biased city two females are considered a family while two males are a nuisance!

If you are an average guy , try getting inside The Forum or Park Towers on a Saturday evening and you’ll be shown the exit door even before making your way pass the entry. But if it is a mixed group or even an exclusively female one, you’ll be greeted inside with a welcome grin.

This anti-male culture exists in open environments as well, like in Bagh ibne Qasim and Funland which have security ready to pounce on any female-less male. Moreover, the one and only renowned cinema in Karachi, Cineplex is restricted to families. So you can’t be a guy and watch a movie in a cinema. No, this right is reserved for women.

I have lived part of my life in Islamabad and I have never seen such a biased attitude there.  Guys are not stopped from enjoying equal luxuries and the city is far more peaceful then Karachi. So the argument that boys lack manners or discipline is totally out of the question. Places like Hang Out, Hot Shot, Megazone, F-9 Park, Cinepax would never judge you on the basis of your genitals!

And I’m sure this is the case in other cities as well… well besides Karachi.


Hamza Javaid

An engineering student at NUST in Karachi.

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

  • parvez

    Nice article, never gave this much thought.
    Suggestion : get yourself a girl friend.Recommend

  • Taha Kehar

    So what do you suggest should be done to alleviate this? Recommend

  • Hasan

    That’s why you need the Taliban to get the boys in the front seats on a women-being-stoned-to-death show.Recommend

  • ahmad

    its same here in saudi arabia.Recommend

  • Saad Durrani

    Finally! Just finally, someone said something about this. It does not stop here. Someone is having a party. The ticket details are: Couples ONLY (a. One guy with a girl or b. 2 girls) PKR 1000. It is a curse if you are single. Once I wanted to buy a toy car for a child, Teens & Kids did not let me.

    Fine, I understand that boys are the axis of evil but we can always have better security. If they are found to be caught under any nuisance, charges should be placed by the mall/cinema for disturbing peace. A heavy outside-the-court settlement should be made. No parent likes to pay fines.Recommend

  • Mahvesh

    I’m glad there’s a guy who feels discriminated on the basis of his gender. Welcome to our world, Mr. Javaid. You feel sad you won’t be let into a park? That’s basically how we feel when we’re out and get hounded by a group of lunatics. Not putting you in the same category, just saying this has come about because of a reason. Recommend

  • Abu Hamza

    I have not seen any signs like that in Karachi. Can you please mention where its displayed? The gender discrimination in Karachi is at par with what you see in Punjab or elsewhere in Pakistan. Though we don’t have ladies sitting with stranger males in public transport, which is a common thing in the buses in Punjab.

    And yes, there are certain places where males are not allowed, like ladies beauty parlors, ladies toilet etc.

    You have not mentioned what kinda fun you are looking for?Recommend

  • AF

    @Abu Hamza:

    Sir! where do you live?

    Cineplex Cinema at Defence you cannot go inside without a female
    Park Towers & The Forum (shopping malls). you cannot go inside without a female on weekends

    and must be some other places tooRecommend

  • Hamza A. Khan

    Another terribly written blog. Spellos, grammaticals, punctuation mistakes. I might as well stop commenting and start writing.

    On the topic though, you should probably spend your weekends playing football. A single guy has no business inside a mall; and no, bird watching doesn’t count.Recommend

  • Hassan Bangash

    Hi Hamza,

    I dont know about other places…yeah Cineplex I agree.. but Park Towers and Forum you can always enter without a female friend. I was stopped once though, I asked to see the management and they went quiet and let me through. Proly they can tell tht I am here for groceries and not birds.


  • Asad Durrani

    i like your thoughts.

    Every city has its own mood and the way the change their nature the city does change. I don’t know if after 10 years you see the same in Islamabad or Lahore for instance.

    btw i’m from Lahore and Peshawar and Karachi are my favorites :).Recommend

  • Faisal Arshad

    Nice Selection of Topic…
    Yes there is a bit discrimination to counter the often reported harrassment in an otherwise allowable fun places…and theres strong reason to that…
    Karachi being the cosmopolitan owns a large majority of rural immigrants often lacking the mature minded attitude…and often presenting cheap and intolerable behavior. Until a mature mindset prevails in this class of citizens, there has to remain this so called discrimination.Recommend

  • Ghausia

    Oh come now, if I can hang out at the mall for food, shoes, and cruising guys, surely boys can go there purely for birdwatching. But this is still a ridiculous blog, rather whiny to be honest, not to mention, for someone talking about a gender bias, you certainly have a bias against Karachi. Yes, many places don’t admit boys only. Because they’re rude, rowdy, and lack manners, not to mention disturb other customers. Sure, you’re not like that, you’re a nice boy, and I’m sorry you get singled out due to the crassness of your entire species(Hey, to me, men are a different species altogether) but you can’t deny that there isn’t a valid reason for this restriction.

    And I’d like to reinforce Mahvesh’s point; you think this is bad, at least everywhere you go, you don’t have to worry about being harassed. You can shop for shoes without having to wear/adjust your dupatta properly, you can work without having illicit proposals thrown your way, you’re never blackmailed, beaten, raped, killed, etc. Give it a rest. And what on earth would a boy do at a mall anyway? Get a girlfriend, or just female friends, or as another commenter suggested, play football.

    Or since Karachi is obviously so bad, switch cities.Recommend

  • Hamza

    Thanks for all the appreciation and criticism guys :).
    I would like to reply to some of your queries
    @ Taha, dude alleviation is not the solution, eradication is.
    @ Ahmed, In reference to KSA, the law implies to all the citizens of the state. While only Karachi is singled out in Pakistan.
    @ Saad, cant agree more.
    @ Hamza, its not only about single boys.
    @ Hassan, thanks for the tip, ill keep it in mind for next time.Recommend

  • muniba

    well hamza i totally agree with u….thats so not fair, there shudnt be such discrimination.Recommend

  • Musa

    Yes, this problem does exist in Karachi. But well, there is no denying the fact that these places are more secure with “londay” not around and those who take chicks along are less likely to cause trouble.Recommend

  • Abdul Moeed

    Hamza…the best reply to this would be …get yourself a girlfriend dude.Anyways, I know PNEC isn’t a nice place to start.But best of luck boy. Recommend

  • Sameed

    Good article. The worst part is – no going to the cinema. But try looking at it from he enforcer’s perspective. There aren’t many solutions to this problem. You know how most boys are. And in a country where even the most supposedly ‘refined’ people are breaking the law and transgressing boundaries, what would you have done?Recommend

  • Umair

    yup girlfriend is the right answer .. ive also seen some gays roaming around millennium mall for boy friends … why dont u give that place a try … Recommend

  • Mariam

    Okay after reading this i would say maybe the malls etc in karachi should try showing some leniency in this mater for some time and see how it plays out because after all there are no such rules in Islamabad and no hells have broken lose till now
    You know how they say deprived boys become more desperate. PEACE Recommend

  • kashif

    well hamza why dont you ask your girlfriend to come along…….i presume you do have your miss hamziRecommend

  • Misbah

    Now this is a different one. Being a girl I never actually thought about it. You are right when you say why in Karachi, when not in Islamabad or other cities? This is the pivot of the article. System should be corrected, before the bans are applied. Security measures should be improved. Failure on the part of authorities cannot be an excuse for keeping the guys away from equal fun. A guy deserves to go to better places as much as a girl.
    @Ghausia: Have you ever stopped going to co-education school, or market, or weddings, or restaurants, simply because boys are there? This is ridiculous. You don’t have a point. Leaving the city is certainly not the solution, raising voice, is a start though. I understand boys are THE trouble, but banning them is not the solution, and talking about the issue is NOT ‘whining’. And how could you just jump to the conclusion that the writer thinks Karachi is ‘bad’, I really don’t think that is the case. Criticism for the sake of criticism is so not welcomed. =]Recommend

  • Asad Durrani

    I dont recommend you a Girl Friend and you know why…

    @Ghausia I dont understand “bias against Karachi”. I mean why would someone have bias against any city. This is our country and I love each and every part of it. Even I love whole world after reading this by Iqbal
    چین و ارب ہمارا، ہندوستان ہمارا
    مسلم ہیں ہم وطن ہے سارا جہاں ہمارا

    I again say I am from Lahore and my favorite cities are Peshawar and Karachi. Recommend

  • Mariam

    Boys are discriminated in Pakistan, because people give extra-protection and respect to women (apparently).

    It must be really tough for you to go out and have fun when all places are for families.Recommend

  • Anonymous

    cineplex should only have family day on weekends. If a group of boys (not chichoras) want to enjoy then they can go on weekdays. Single boys also have right to enjoy.Recommend

  • Muhammad Zeeshan

    A simple answer.

    There is more male-discrimination in Karachi than in Lahore or Islamabad because Karachi hosts most refugees or countrymen from North West Pakistan, which are mostly likely found troublemakers.

    If you are alone, or just have got male-friends with you, you should find boys-only activities in the city.Recommend

  • AF

    Cineplex should have family day only on weekends. Weekdays should be open for all. After all single boy(s) also have right to enjoy their lives.

    damn it.. When did funland adopt policy of stupid family day. I remember couples of years ago i went there all alone sat on every swing (roller coaster, etc) and had one of the best day of my lifeRecommend

  • Asad Durrani

    @Muhammad Zeeshan :P man this is not fair. discussion of removing one discrimination is going on and you are talking of one more. What if more refugees from north west Pakistan? i mean if I am from Peshawar then Im the trouble maker?Recommend

  • Muhammad Zeeshan

    Dear Brother @Asad Durrani, Dont take me wrong, I am not pointing to speakers of one language, but just telling you some facts based on pattern matching. I don’t wish to point the same troublemakers on the other fields as it will be far fetched from the subject of this blog.

    Let me give you an example. Do you know why Pakistanis are taken as thefts and terrorists in west/Europe? Only because behind every single terrorist attack/plan, there is someone from Pakistan. Pakistan have the most corrupt politicians who have kept the slaves under their boots for the last 6 decades. So it is very much fair if the west/Europe profile our beloved country Pakistan as being the “producer” of thefts and terrorists. Lets face the facts, you are equally Patriotic Pakistani like me or anyone else.

    If we stay in the mode-of-denial (Denial-Syndrome) of the facts, we’ll not be able to highlight the problem, thus will never be able to take necessary actions to fix them. There are countless examples I can product, but for the sake of writers respect, let’s not discuss this off topic. I hope you agree.Recommend

  • Tayyab Raza

    okay i am completely in favor of not allowing single males to just wander around in parks.
    In a country where literacy rate is hovering around 40-50 % mark whats the guarantee that the dude entering is not a hound but a NUST khi engineer ???

  • Saad S. Hashmi

    Well, I do agree with most part of your article. For a crime of few – if it really turns out to be one – you do not punish the whole lot. But this discrimination thing is not only confined to Karachi. More or less, its in other major towns of the country too.

    One drawback of this article is, though you have highlighted this issue, you haven’t touched any of its remedies. Nevertheless, a nice read.Recommend

  • Ammar

    Absolute agreement.Recommend

  • Aamna

    pls dont compare Karachi to Islamabad. isloo is minuscule.Recommend

  • Asad Durrani

    dont compare cities. Each and every city has its own significance, mood and life style. Recommend

  • omais

    Whoof!… i really enjoyed reading all posted comments :p … & the award goes to “Tayyab Raza” lolz Recommend

  • Mahvesh

    @ Muhammad Zeeshan: There is more male-discrimination in Karachi than in Lahore or Islamabad because Karachi hosts most refugees or countrymen from North West Pakistan, which are mostly likely found troublemakers.

    Wow. I can’t even BEGIN to describe how incredibly offensive that is! If you must know, most of NWFP/KP is settled in Punjab, primarily Islamabad or Lahore due to proximity to their ancestral areas. In Islamabad every other person you see in markets is a Pukhtun (including me). The real problem is something you’ve actually stated yourself, ‘boys only activities’ which at times include hanging around aimlessly or being a nuisance. Basically you’ve stated that most of the boys who get into trouble are from the north by your generalization… yeah RIGHT! Boys will be boys, no matter what part of Pakistan they are from, and groups of men in Pakistan do tend to make families and women uncomfortable, hence the need for such barriers that Mr. Javaid talks about. Recommend

  • Muhammad Zeeshan

    @ Mahvesh, firstly you should not have classified/identified yourself as Pashtun, because then we’ll be discussing ethnicity.

    Maybe you’ve missed to understand what I meant by the above lines. Karachi hosts more Pashtun countrymen than Punjab or KP itself as there are millions of jobs only Pashtun are capable of doing.

    Secondly I never meant males as in ‘Boys’. Most people living in Karachi for work-purpose (i.e. their families are in KP or their bodies will be sent to KP after their death) are here in Karachi to win their share of the bread-n-butter and try their luck. The best example for us to understand this is people from all over the country going to Middle east and living there without family and sending remittances back home.

    I was solely mentioning to those people in Pakistani context, when they do not have got their families in Karachi, they tend to care a bit LESS about their actions and anti-social behavior would be no problem for them – as compared to those who live/born here, who have their families here, who’s sisters goes to college in here, kids go to schools in here and have to be buried in this city after their death.

    In the presence of such predators, its quiet justifying to have family-only places. We are all Pakistani’s, please never classify oneself/yourself or residents of KP/NWFP as Pashtuns or citizens of Karachi as Mohajirs.Recommend

  • Sana Saleem

    I think this anti-male culture is developed in result of the terrorism and crime rate there. As the committers are the males only and especially in firing cases… Only men and Double Sawari.

    Thats why the sex discrimination has risen… I guess !Recommend

  • M. Z. Syed

    It was fun reading this blog. For once these are true facts even though they may be harsh for many or some might just like to deny their credibility. I am married (so much for all those wise suggestions for having a girlfriend) and yet these are rules applied in a generic fashion, if i’m with my missy i’ll be welcome everywhere, if i’m with a guy, its much different.
    Also why is it that on the roads our Karachi police feels its their right to signal any car to stop that is carrying just guys than a car which has a girl in it… discriminatory yes.

    Yet I so do NOT agree with some people commenting and blaming ethnicity or language or cultural backgrounds for this. That’s a shallow stance, I have been born and bred in Karachi all my life, yet some of my closest friends from my university (IBA) are from Peshawar (Hayatabad) or Isloo and off course Lahore. How can you say that you are better than them? U really think those guys gate crashing private parties with gun totting guards are either pathans or baloch only? U think there are any less people from this own province or this city alone? Ah, no I will not indulge in ethnic statements. But the bottom line is that it can be anybody speaking any language with any skin colour…

    Lets see now the reasons for this. Take Park Towers for example… and lets not point fingers, i’ll be frank. If i was there with my wife on a Sat or Sun and had a bunch of single ‘waillay’ guys there for the sole purpose of bird watching or in our terms for ‘poondi’, I would definitely be offended. I would go kick ass of Park towers management over it. On the other hand, if i was there alone or with some other guy, being a guy, I would in all probability be also looked at with the same displeasure by a guy who came with his girl. Its human nature, and perhaps unpleasant incidents and experiences have compelled these ‘hip’ places to enforce these rules to lure ‘decent’ crowds. I agree there is always collateral damage, not everybody deserves such treatment but they cant make exceptions right?

    So yes, it applies to me too and you too, like it or not. And no I beg to differ this is not a silly blog, if it was, you guys should not have bothered wasting your precious time to reply to it, it did tickle your fancy and hence u did. That’s all in a nutshell. Cheers.Recommend

  • JS

    You cannot sit with a lady in a bus. You cannot enter a park if you are not accompanied by any female. You cannot shop alongwith females. Pakistan is a country full of restrictions. Restrictions, restrictions, and more restrictions have only advertly affected the minds of Pakistani youth. Youth in west does not have to face no such restrictions and hence they are much more confident, matured, and positive thinkers. You stand in a line to pay your utility bill for an hour and a lady shows up and gets the second spot in line. Believe me, its not going to leave any positive impact on youth’s mind. Men and women are equal, they enjoy same rights and share same responsibilities in the society.Recommend

  • Usama Zafar

    Well when I moved to Lahore from Islamabad I had the same experience. I guess Sana is right such discrimination can be attributed to the crime rate and terrorism as both Karachi and Lahore are famous for them…Recommend

  • Omer

    Off-course, your findings are near to realities but since you might not Karachi born, so you dont know the reason of alone boys restrictions at these points.
    Basically Karachi is a diversified city, all types of people lives there, highly educated as well as totally illeterate, the richest as well as the poorest. So, some types of peoples (guyz) used to do cheap activities (not only the low-class but the elite class too) at these places and hence the families there not feel good and avoid these places to visit.
    So, individually the managements of these shopping places and parks etc ban the entrys of guyz alone to avoid any bad incident.Recommend

  • Deen Sheikh

    Some One had the Courage To Write About This Segregation and Discrimination Culture
    It was not there in Lahore, Lahore became Host to the first ever Cafe this year which has a Families Only Policy after 7 Pm
    Espresso MM ALAM
    This could be a start of a nationwide Trend of gender discrimination, a city like Lahore is too laid back about these things, people arent fussy, but these sort of things, will encourage this.Recommend

  • d.K

    nice topic. i’ve the same thoughts. places like espresso dnt let in boys at all. this really needs a change.Recommend

  • Arslan

    let me tell you if you even go with your brother and show your NIC to security as a prove of family they will not let you in…..but if you hire a prostitute and go there with her….they will consider it a family…..we are really living in a funny and illogical world…:PRecommend

  • Hamza Siddiqui

    Jack, exactly.

    The most i hate is the cinema one, movies and cinemas are considered a “guys” thing, especially when it comes to movies like inception.
    and yeah a guy can want to hang out with friends, just to chill. he does not want to accompany his girl everywhere he goes! the answer to those who have suggested “get a girl”. dude, “get a life”.Recommend

  • Shafqat

    I totally agree with the article.
    It really pisses me off when something of this kind happens with me.
    My rule…let the boys in… BUT if they do ANYTHING UNPLEASANT INTENTIONALLY beat their heads off!
    Other than that.. we SHOULD have rights too.Recommend