Stories about equal rights

Rasm over rights: Why is the nikkahnama woven with inequality towards women?

Shaadi (marriage) is perhaps the most cherished tradition in Pakistani culture, a gathering of levity and simultaneous importance and an event which many deem to be the most significant in their lives. For women in Pakistan, the latter is often the case since marriage bounds them to a contract that is deliberately created to disadvantage them. The institution of marriage has been weaponised by the male-dominated religious lobby in Pakistan to systematically disenfranchise women into a life that is decided by their significant other. The most integral part of this system is the nikkahnama (marriage certificate). For many married couples, the nikkahnama is at best an afterthought in the marriage festivities, ...

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Pakistan issues its first gender-neutral passport – what’s that, America? You still haven’t?

In an unprecedented move, the government of Pakistan issued a gender-neutral passport to a transgender activist, Farzana Jan. In an interview after receiving the passport that marks the gender as “X”, Jan said, “I am so happy to be recognised by the Directorate General of Immigration and Passports that I am a human and have a gender other than male and female.” Jan is an activist for the rights of gender minorities and a co-founder and president of an advocacy group, Trans Action Pakistan. The group works for the rights of gender non-conformists, such as eunuchs, transgenders and transvestites. Hate crimes against ...

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Can a 12-year-old consent to rape?

A young child, no older than 12, lies unconscious in the hospital. She has been picked up by her family from her employer’s place of residence and taken to the hospital after repeated episodes of the child falling in and out of consciousness. The doctor’s diagnosis? The child, a 12-year-old girl, has been sexually assaulted. As I sat with my friend scrolling through my phone reading the news story, I sighed running my hand through my hair. When she asked what the matter was, I showed her the story, letting her read it rather than me telling her. She shook her head and said that ...

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Moving towards a trans-friendly Pakistan, finally

What a feeling it is when you just be yourself without having to be self-conscious about it. There’s not an iota of concern there. “I am who I am, I wear whatever I please and I express myself however I chose to,” thinks the person. I am not going to be shamed or persecuted by anyone, or entertain any fears about that happening. For many, a transgender, man or woman, it is but an idealised notion that is not always realised but is perhaps trending in the right direction now. In Peshawar, Pakistan, there was a birthday party for a 40-year-old transgender woman by the ...

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Is it really the working class men who stop privileged women from ‘doing their own thing’?

Yesterday, we shared the Do Your Own Thing (DYOT) video with our take on it. The video was taken down last night, so our post has disappeared… along with all the shares made from this page. For the sake of the on-going discussion on social media right now, we are re-posting our comments again: This video has recently been shared a lot and the feelings many people expressed have been mixed. We think it is useful to talk more about it and add to the conversation. Firstly, kudos to these girls. This could not have been easy to do. We have to be ...

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The transgender community doesn’t need Rs200 million, it needs a change in mind-set

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government allocated Rs200 million for the transgender community while announcing their provincial budget. Thank you, your effort is much appreciated. But the main question is; will Rs200 million be the solution to the on-going problems they face? Is it going to remove the social stigma attached to them? How about passing a law against those individuals who treat transgender people with utmost scorn and brutality? Most importantly, how long will it take you to give them their due rights as equal citizens of Pakistan? Back in 2012, the Supreme Court of Pakistan issued a judgment stating transgender individuals ...

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Ashraf Chaudhry, slut-shaming is not ‘freedom of speech’

A country must be a mother. No other person could suffer so much at your hands and still call you its own. We may call Pakistan our mother, we may respect it as if it was our mother, we may even love it like our mother but is there a place for mothers, sisters, and daughters in this Pakistan? Is there no country for women? We are quick to stand up in arms when the sanctity of our adopted mother is called into question. We are often told, “The sovereignty of Pakistan must come first.” There was a similar visceral reaction in Pakistan to the ...

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My sister was a victim of honour killing and I demand justice!

Feudal lords have ruled over Sindh and Balochistan for centuries now. These land-owning stalwarts proudly protect their out-dated customs and traditions, without any resistance. Why? Because no one has the power or the will to stand up against them; and this has cost us many innocent lives. Recently, the case of Tahira Khoso made it to the news; she was shot in the head, in the presence of her father, brother and uncle in Jacobabad, as part of an honour killing ritual. Her husband, Waqar Umrani, shot her in cold blood after some domestic dispute took place between the couple. Umrani ...

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Forbes’ list of influential women: Are Pakistani women not good enough?

We are a nation of contradictions. We are a nation that goes to watch Bollywood movies on the weekend and during the weekday, we like to blame RAW for terrorism. We are a nation where everyone has high sounding degrees but when we’re standing on the road, we won’t be bothered to find a trashcan. Then we blame the government for not cleaning up after us. We are a nation that spends hundreds of thousands of rupees on our weddings but refuse to pay even minimum wage to underage labourers that we love to boss/beat around. We are a nation that is ...

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‘No groom for you’ – The dilemma of an Indian gay man

Most concerned Indian parents worry about their child’s happiness and would like to see her/him live a happy and fulfilled life, and being married is traditionally considered part of that equation of fulfilment. The search begins to find the correct partner, by word of mouth and other avenues. One method includes placing a newspaper matrimonial advertisement in a local or national newspaper to draw upon the eyes of many potential suitors and their families for marriage. Once the ad is placed, the phones begin to ring and emails are exchanged, all leading to a potential match. Everybody is happy! Yay! However, for one such ...

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