Stories about abuse

Singing the national anthem in a tank top: Worthy of abuse?

The true face of people shows on the internet. Online anonymity has something thrilling about it which makes you say whatever you really want to. Unfortunately, some people (even while not being anonymous) say the cruelest, more hateful things on social media. I tend to always feel a little depressed after going through the comments sections of public posts on Facebook. I know that it is ‘only the internet’ and I need to have thicker skin; still, some things leave me wondering what the people of my country have become. A few days ago, I stumbled upon a video on Facebook. Around ...

Read Full Post

Street harassment: The blame lies with you

When one talks about street harassment in Pakistan, an interesting question that is raised by most is, Whose fault is it exactly? In my quest to find some answers, and ask women about their views on this issue, I went to Jumma Bazar near Khayaban-e-Ittehad. It was an interesting and eye-opening experience to say the least. To begin with, it was difficult to convince women to talk in front of the camera. We literally had to chase after a few, be extra polite and add an ‘aunty please’ after every sentence to make them answer our questions. I asked them if they thought ...

Read Full Post

Treat her like a lady, not a baby-making machine

Kaneez* has five young children with a small age difference between them. She works full-time as a domestic maid and takes short, rushed breaks in order to nurse her youngest child, a five-month-old infant. If her break becomes longer than the expected five minutes, she is severely rebuked by her employer.  Life is hard for Kaneez. Not only does her husband expect her to make ends meet, but also wants her to keep adding more children to the brood. Her children fight all the time, demand clothes and toys when she takes them grocery shopping and throw tantrums when their ...

Read Full Post

Sorry ladies, no protection for you

Everyone knows that Pakistan does not have the most efficient of governments. Neither would one argue that our politicians are the brightest of the bunch, nor the most honest. Tales of corruption, incompetence and nepotism are so widespread that the average Pakistani has become immune to them. The common man on the street has enough problems on his plate, ranging from high inflation to loadshedding, and is already struggling to make ends meet, to really care about what the government is doing. In all honesty, we don’t really expect that much from our government. In fact just getting through the allotted five years ...

Read Full Post

Drugs are not the only problem

Drug use usually starts as a form of rebellion, be it against mom and dad, your own friends or society as a whole. Ease of access only increases the likelihood that someone will make an uninformed decision and light up their first joint, smoke their first bong, or worse, pick up their first needle. Pakistan is historically a hashish-smoking nation, with records of the cannabis-derived substance’s use going back thousands of years. Although some would try to deny it, drugs, at least soft drugs, are part of the local culture. From bhang and charas up to opium, Mother Nature’s gifts ...

Read Full Post

Veena Malik: Scorned for being different

Is a woman simply labeled a whore or a saint, a mother or a prostitute in Pakistan? It seems that having more than one dimension to her description is just not acceptable – it is a sad country for an an independent woman. People complain about feudalism and a system that favours patriarchal dominance, and yet today I see everyone around me acting like a feudal trying to force an opinion on a single woman again and again till she submits. Veena Malik is controversy’s favourite child, or so it seems. You either hate her, or love her, but nobody ever lets ...

Read Full Post

Lusting for heroin, living in excess

My friends always did seem to be perpetually waiting for something.  They wanted an explosion of culture and expression and art to suddenly rip open their city, something that they could be a part of. The explosion never came and they got tired of waiting. The paradigm shifted from making music, writing poetry and actually being productive to watching Basketball Diaries and Trainspotting, listening to Alice in Chains and Stone Temple Pilots. “They did heroin you know?” “We should do heroin.’’ “Why?” ‘’Because. What else can we do?’’ I saw it happen, this whole fascination with Americana and the people who made it – for ...

Read Full Post

Sexual abuse: Can we protect Amna?

Child sexual abuse is probably the least acknowledged forms of abuse in Pakistan. It is like Pandora’s Box, that no one is ready to open. Children, and even adults are not educated enough about certain incidents and their prevention. Middle East Media Research Institute reports that 2,012 cases of child sexual abuse were recorded from all over Pakistan during 2009. This means approximately 3.3 children were sexually abused per day.  Of the victims 68% were girls and 32% were boys. It is suspected that the number is much higher. Girls are more likely to be targeted by family members, acquaintances ...

Read Full Post

Sexual abuse: A victim’s diary

It didn’t take much time for me to spill my heart out. My secret had become too much to bear. I needed someone, anyone, to hear the anguish I had hidden for so many years. I sat on a chair facing the psychotherapist, my face tense, my hands trembling. As I revealed my deepest and darkest secret, I burst into tears. My story is not new to the therapist. Sexual harassment is common even among the rich. A perfectly made-up face and bright smile camouflage secrets that I had refused to face for a long time. Between heart-wrenching sobs, I started. I live ...

Read Full Post

Honourably dead

We celebrated a year of violence in Pakistan by offering 675 girls at the altar of honour. Ismat Parveen (whose name means ‘dignity’ and ‘honour’) married a man she wanted to, and because she didn’t want to divorce him, she was shot to death – by her brother. A young woman by the name of Hajil Mai was axed by her husband earlier last month because he accused her of having an affair with the neighbour. He killed her with an axe in the name of honour. With an axe. She is just one victim amongst the many who die in the name ...

Read Full Post