Stories about equality

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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Is Islam the most feminist religion?

I’ve been reading about Australian youth activist Yassmin Abdel-Magied (we appeared on an Australian show once together) and her words to Jacqui Lambie on an Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) television show that Islam is (to her) the most feminist religion. Yassmin got pilloried in the Australian press for this statement. With the state of affairs for women in many Muslim countries today, it’s easy to see how it might not sit well with a cynical and non-Muslim-friendly audience. It would have gone down great with an audience full of Muslims, but we should probably unpack the statement a little bit to come somewhere between the optimism of Yassmin’s assertion and the rest of ...

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Trump’s #MuslimBan: A realist’s take

Recently, the UAE foreign minister defended Donald Trump’s Muslim ban, claiming that it’s not Islamophobic. The unconvincing statement, perhaps given in relief or gratitude for the UAE having avoided the ban itself, only goes to highlight the unscrupulous foundations of the ban. Rich, influential Muslim countries that are financial or strategic allies like the Gulf States and Pakistan have been spared, whereas those with little utility to the US have conveniently been scapegoated to appease Trump’s right-wing populism. Perhaps Abdullah Bin Zayed’s words have some truth to them after all. Perhaps the ban isn’t merely a coup against Muslim countries, but ...

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In defence of nationalising education

This post is a reply to a recent article’s attempt to blame nationalisation for the degradation of education in our country. There is absolutely no doubt that the standard of education in our country is deplorable and in fact, it would not be ridiculous to say that education is practically being murdered. However, if nationalisation did not do any good to education in Pakistan then neither did privatisation. In politics, there are two major ideals; equality and freedom. The leftists are known for valuing equality over freedom and those on the right argue for the supremacy of freedom over equality. Those who value equality ...

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