Stories about acceptance

The road not taken: Going to Cambridge or getting married

In Pakistan, and in my native language Urdu, woman translates into aurat, which comes from the Persian awrah, meaning “parts to be protected”. Literally, too, in my present Muslim, closed-knit, patriarchal society, women like me are guided — by their fathers, husbands, brothers, sons — to be protected from threats against their body and family honour. While these men encourage “western” trends to an extent — like education at reputable schools, recreational sports, or even temporary employment — cultural traditions halt these prospects after marriage. You are born, our men tell us, to marry fast, and vouchsafe both yourselves and your future daughters ...

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They said I was a paedophile, a prostitute, sick in the head, all because I loved a younger man

I was in the 10th grade when a friend of mine told us that she was in love with this guy who was a trainee pilot and was six years older than her. Quite frankly, it did not strike me as anything unusual since my own parents have an age gap of around eight years between them. And if anything, such age differences are deemed desirable by our society at large. I was also fully aware that my friend was mature and knew what she was doing. At no point in that conversation were the intentions of the guy doubted. ...

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Kamran, a soldier eternally

The heavy breathing, bewildered expressions, and tears welling from the eyes of the three people surrounding Kamran saddened him. He didn’t know what to say, how to respond, what reasons to give. After all, he was clueless himself. The silence was silently injuring everyone’s hearts from within. This silence had to be broken, and thus Kamran spoke in the most wavering voice. “Why won’t any of you say anything?  Isn’t it enough for you all that I’m finally here?” No one knew how to answer. Finally, after a long pause, Ammi spoke in an almost inaudible voice. “Yes beta. Of course, we’re ...

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India’s awakening: The end of Article 377 and the last shred of colonialism

One of the most glaring anomalies in the Indian legal landscape is Article 377, the 1861 law that criminalises gay sex. This law, inspired by Victorian era prudishness, should have no place in the India of 2018. The British, who created this law based on their values of that time, have now adopted much more liberal and progressive outlooks. Meanwhile, the Indian state has refused to move on. In fact, it has appropriated those archaic values and keeps them entrenched and alive in the country’s legal code. This is ironic, and perhaps tragic, because through the course of history, the Indic ...

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Cut, cut, cut – sweet relief

The sun was ablaze in an empty blue sky. The city glazed in the dazzling sunshine was bright and yellow and alive. Amal lay supine under the sun, her skin covered in a shimmer of sweat. Today, after work, she didn’t go home. Instead, she came to a park near her workplace. Children and the elderly loitered in the park. Pedestrians skittered and scuttled on the sidewalks. The roads around bustled with cars. All people moved to the ends of their journeys, while Amal was sprawled unmoving on the ground. Air hung lazily in the solid afternoon heat. Amal revelled in ...

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Why our mosque culture needs to change: An open letter to Masjid Aunties

Dear Masjid Aunties, It’s common for you to undermine people who don’t meet your religious standards, especially in a place of worship. Converts get pulled out of prayer by the arm for not praying with an abaya. Women are publicly shamed and bashed for not wearing the hijab correctly. If someone doesn’t regularly go to the mosque, they’re looked down upon. It’s sad, but it’s a rampant issue in the women’s section of the masjid (mosque). Informing someone about something advised against is fine, but please, do so respectfully. Women at the mosque judge and gossip amongst themselves. This mentality can be ...

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Feminism needs to cater to Muslim women, not the other way around

Feminism needs to include women of colour, Muslim women, disabled women, sex workers, trans women, gay women, queer women, fat women, skinny women. It needs to cater to all women. The fact that the term ‘intersectional feminism’ exists proves that the general movement is often exclusive and largely white. Mainstream, western feminism isn’t always intersectional. There are feminists who often don’t realise or can’t relate to the fact that for women of colour, of different faiths, abilities, it’s not just gender that they’re discriminated on. Such women are affected by these circumstances professionally, socially and mentally, and yet don’t always receive the ...

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What if Snow White was a little healthier and the dwarves were less perverted?

“What if Snow White was a little healthier and the dwarves were less perverted?” is perhaps what the poster for the new Snow White film should have said. Instead it said, “What if Snow White was no longer beautiful and the seven dwarfs not so short?” What if the marketing team of the South Korean children’s movie, Red Shoes & the 7 Dwarfs had more sense? The movie seems to have taken a rather strong and suggestive tone regarding breaking stereotypes, showing a version of Snow White that is a heavier girl unperturbed by the notion of “proper” behaviour that is commonly expected of ...

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What Pakistan went through during the Peshawar attack

Students of Psychology will be familiar with the Kübler-Ross model. The five stages of loss and grief. ‘Normal grief’. Grief of losing a loved one to a terminal illness. Grief that one has prepared themselves for. Grief that concludes with acceptance. However, there is no theory for the event in which all the first four stages of grief collide. Nothing to explain the kind of grief that does not end with ‘acceptance’. Yesterday, December 16, 2014, demonstrated to us a new trough in humanity. Just when we thought we had hit rock-bottom in a society where human life has nil ...

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Stop making fun of people who stutter!

I had come to believe that people in our country had developed a better understanding of disabilities and that there was an increase in the acceptance for people with disabilities or minor disorders in educational institutions and the work place. However, I was knocked out of my nutshell a few days ago when an incident with a friend made me realise that people here are not even able to differentiate between disabilities and minor disorders such as stuttering or stammering. A few days ago, my friend who has had a stuttering problem since childhood, was called in for a summer internship interview at an esteemed ...

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