Stories about discrimination

Why didn’t the Pakistan embassy stand up for Assim Abbasi?

In 2004, I travelled to Belgium to visit my uncle who was residing and doing business there. I found the people to be very welcoming, the architecture was outstanding and, of course, the world-famous chocolate was delectable. So when news emerged this week of a Pakistani, Assim Abbasi, residing in Belgium being wrongfully identified as a crazed, fundamentalist gunman, when in fact, he was holding a cricket bat, sent out alarm and disbelief.  Understandably, emotions are running high following the attack on a Jewish museum in Brussels but the fact that the Belgian police and media failed to make the necessary checks meant an innocent ...

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Sexual harassment at LUMS, don’t blame the university!

A video of a woman walking the streets of New York City, getting hundreds of catcalls from men went viral around the world this week. The woman is followed, called all sorts of names, and her attention is solicited, but none of the men touch her. In Pakistan, instances of men “inadvertently” touching women are all too common. Girls are taught to ignore it, to avoid creating a ‘scene’. Not only does society silence the woman, our very laws discourage women from reporting cases of violence against them. Yesterday, news broke out of the Federal Ombudsman directing the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) to ...

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India walking the talk with their first transgender news anchor

It is prime time bulletin on Lotus News, a satellite news channel in southern Indian town, Coimbatore. Dressed in a dark brown silk sari, 31-year-old Padmini Prakash is all set to read out the day’s headlines. In matching brown lipstick, vermilion in the parting of her hairline and a bunch of white jasmine tucked in her black curls, Padmini sports a professional charm. Her Tamil pronunciation is clear. Her intonation is perfectly timed. In less than two months, Padmini has become one of the most popular news anchors of the television channel.   But it wasn’t an easy journey for ...

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IBA strongly condemns religious discrimination

This article has been written to address the blog previously published on Express Tribune regarding IBA’s elections and how a specific act of religious discrimination was carried out by some students in the university against a Hindu student. Though it is commendable of her to raise her voice against religious discrimination, I still think Ms Syeda Jaisha should have respected the privacy of the university she herself is a student of, the privacy every organisation deserves. As a student of IBA, it should be my first and foremost priority to uphold the reputation of my institute and protect its dignity. A handful of students certainly do ...

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Religious discrimination: Plaguing the educated class

My heart wept when a house in Gujranwala was set ablaze, in July this year, just because it belonged to an Ahmadi family. At the time, I attributed this wave of extreme religious attitudes across the country to the lack of education in most of its parts. I was successful in finding solace in the thought that once educated, our society would be able to traverse such petty differences and the majority would learn to live in harmony with the minorities. On September 10, 2014, the day the society elections at IBA-Karachi took place, my utopian ideas were shattered. That day, I could see ...

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Mary Kom: A punch in the right direction

When you think of movies under the Sanjay Leela Bhansali banner, you think of epic romances, of the colours blue, grey, and black, of love and passion, and women dancing in the most extravagant of lehngas. But the last thing you would expect from a Bhansali movie is a story about a young girl trying her luck in the patriarchal field of sports. This is why the movie Mary Kom was pleasantly surprising. But Mary Kom coming from a big production house is not why I liked it. I liked it because of the following reasons: 1) It is a biopic. This kind of cinema is really inspirational and it ...

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Undoing religious intolerance – undoing the second amendment

Religious clerics in Pakistan celebrate September 7th as a day of victory for Islam and Pakistan. Officially dubbed the “Khatme Nubuwwat Day” or “Finality of Prophethood Day,” many mosques come alive with celebrations this day, sweets are distributed and intense speeches are made in large religious gatherings.  Forty years ago this day, Pakistan passed the second amendment to its Constitution, forcibly declaring the Ahmadis non-Muslim. With the stroke of a pen, the Ahmadis had been snatched of their basic right to self-identity at the insistence of the very clerics who had opposed Jinnah in his rightful struggle. It was this day that Pakistan started drifting away from ...

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Can’t a woman ask for her property share?

A few days ago, I was at a get together with friends and the usual small talk somehow turned to the ‘controversial’ topic of women and their property rights. One of them dramatically sighed and told her sympathisers how her ‘atrocious’ sister-in-law had the audacity to ask for her share of the family’s property. That opened up a Pandora’s Box as she was joined in by the other women who started sharing anecdotes of girls who had the audacity to ask for their share of their family’s property. I did not, and could not, understand what was so reprehensible about a ...

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This is not what Jinnah wanted for Pakistan

On August 11, 1947, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah gave a speech at the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan where he mentioned that in this country, there will be no discrimination based on religious grounds. “We are starting in the days where there is no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, no discrimination between one caste or creed and another. We are starting with this fundamental principle, that we are all citizens, and equal citizens, of one State… You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place ...

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Stop ridiculing the mentally ill

Individuals with mental health disorders are often the victims of violence and there is wide-spread discrimination directed towards them, whether by intent, ignorance or insensitivity. They are often the victim of jokes or are ridiculed for their behaviour. This attitude can make life difficult for them and present major obstacles to recovery. It is hard for them to find stable employment, living arrangements and relationships because of diminished self-esteem and weak social support. I came across two instances recently of major discrimination against people with mental health disabilities in Pakistan. In the first instance, a TV host, on a recent Ramazan ...

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