Stories about equality

Reclaiming public space: Can it be a (wo)man’s world, too?

It was a Saturday night when it rained cats and dogs in Lahore. Cool breeze finally taking over the scorching heat made for an excuse to go out and enjoy to the fullest. With such a spectacular change in weather, it was compulsory for my husband and I to drive out into the city around midnight and be amused by the pleasant ambience. Even at that hour, roads were full of traffic. Trees were swirling in the gusty wind. Eateries along the road were jam-packed with people; after all, Lahoris are known to enjoy food like none other. Boys in groups ...

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How an extra-school program changed the way a seventh-grader looked at society

Beyond the Classroom Education is a program teaching school students all across Pakistan the ability to think for themselves, rather than being taught what to think. Students are exposed to several problematic societal issues through a number of behavioural activities that give them the ability to decipher between right and wrong. It teaches them how to cope with the issues at hand, and also explains ways they can make society a better and more accepting place for all types of people, using the best of their abilities. When the program was introduced to students of the Mama Parsi Girls’ Secondary ...

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From Zahid to Bubbly

“So you have decided to keep humiliating us in front of people,” he said with a roaring voice. His beloved Baba had slapped Zahid on wearing red lipstick again. “You are a boy, a man! The only waris (successor) of our hundreds of acres of land. I will beat you black and blue if I ever find you doing anything girly again.” Zahid had tightly clenched a broken red lipstick in his hands. Baba was continuously lecturing him about masculinity but surprisingly, all this scolding was appearing so rhythmical to him. Baba was admonishing him but he was dancing in his mind, wrapping red dupatta and responding ...

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Dear Imran Khan, please use your mind before you use your tongue. Sincerely, feminism

“I disagree with the feminist movement that has degraded the role of a mother,” said Imran Khan. Wait… what?! That was my initial reaction when Imran’s words flashed on the news website. I blinked in confusion and re-read the words, thinking I may have misread them due to tiredness or lack of sleep. But no. There it was, as clear as rain – feminism apparently “degraded” motherhood. The feminism movement in the West has 'degraded' the role of a mother Imran Khan? Really?! #PTI pic.twitter.com/UwIpEeADil — Bilal Farooqi (@bilalfqi) June 17, 2018 Like most people who took to social media to protest how shocked ...

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In a country of abysmal women rights, will the Transgender Protection Act prove to be fruitful?

Last week, the National Assembly (NA) enacted a law to protect the rights of the transgender community. Called the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act 2018, its main provisions validate transgender identity and expression and seek to provide transgender men and women the rights they had under the country’s Constitution but never enjoyed. The act spells these rights out explicitly so there remains no doubt of their full citizenship. The definition of “transgender persons” is thoughtfully crafted to include intersex, eunuch or a “transgender man or woman, khawaja sira or any person whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from ...

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Why I teach my daughter to raise her hand

Upon her return home from school, I asked my daughter whether or not she raises her hand in class, to which she replied,  “Yes mom, I did,” she said. “In fact, I raise my hand all the time now, even when I am not sure if I have the right answer.” I can’t describe how proud I am that my daughter raises her hand to speak up. Not being sure of the answer is fine by me, as long as she takes a risk and tries anyway. On the contrary, I would be a little upset if she would not engage and ...

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Why Pakistani men need to learn the art of ‘keeping it in their pants’

I came across a Facebook post recently which made me question the way this society thinks and functions, and raises multiple red flags about the way we live. A man in Lahore can masturbate openly in the streets while looking at a school bus full of teenage girls, and there is no mention of it anywhere. However, when a Facebook post in response to it tries to highlight the problem at hand, the fragile male egos of Pakistani men are immediately threatened. FLASHING, SEXUAL HARASSMENT incident: Today a friend in lahore was in her university van. The van had stopped ...

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“Khud khana garam karlo” – Pakistani men’s kryptonite

There is very little doubt that the #MeToo socio-political statements on the internet are among the most powerful ones in recent history. Spreading virtually across the entire globe, the online movement has gathered its fair share of attention in Pakistan too and thankfully so. The recent Aurat March was proof of this movement affecting this country. What began as a protest against sexual misconduct, has now raged into something much bigger. It holds even more meaning in countries such as Pakistan, since not only is sexual misconduct ripe here, the country is still home to an extremely patriarchal society. The Aurat ...

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Dear sexist men, your privileged gender is not an outcome of your “biological” qualities, but of social conditioning

Recently, I wrote an article based on two recent videos which went viral. The main idea behind the article was to showcase two outstanding individuals who challenged gender stereotypes instead of conforming to society’s prescribed gender roles, going on to live their individual dreams. For me, these individuals are heroes and, in fact, trailblazers as they have challenged socially constructed stereotypes. These stereotypes play a large role in determining what is expected of men and women from society. By spelling out these expectations and enforcing them through upbringing and cultural norms, men and women are often regimented into different roles and hence, destinies. These different roles also largely account ...

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Why do I have to pretend to fast when my “monthly friend” is visiting?

I sit in the room at the end of the hallway. The door is closed. My head is bent. I am waiting to be called. I was six-years-old. I stood on the balcony with my mother, father and cousin as we tried to spot the chaand that would symbolise the start of Ramazan. I was excited. I was thrilled; there was nothing I wanted more than to fast for the entire month. I started singing, “Ramazan ke rozay aye, hum roza rakhna chahain!” (The month of fasting is here, and we wish to fast!) My cousin shared the same enthusiasm; he got up and began singing along with me. ...

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