Stories about gender discrimination

How Pakistan’s economic crisis is impacting women

The fact that Pakistan’s economy is in a crisis need not be restated. Inflation rates are at a historic high, industrial units are shutting down, workers are being laid-off and there are limited employment opportunities for job market entrants. Sources of revenue are shrinking and the daily life of most the country’s population has become significantly harder. Opinion writers, academics and economists have said a lot about the current economic crisis and its impact on the lives of ordinary people. There is also little to no doubt that the average man is struggling to keep up with the current ...

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When a dupatta and a nose ring become agents of patriarchy

Coming from a conservative Muslim family where your male cousins won’t even look at you if you are not wearing a dupatta, I have always felt that my body was constantly scrutinised and kept under the male gaze. Forcing clothing around my breasts and a silver wire around my nose was equivalent to patriarchy establishing its territory. My gender which is deemed to be the ‘lesser one’ was expected to wear a sexualised cloth and a ring in order to assert my cultural identity as it makes me ‘unique’ and less ‘westernised’. Women and their bodies have always been pedestalised to ...

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Procreation as a form of oppression: Why I don’t want to have any children

I have always been repelled by the idea of having kids of my own. It has always felt like too much responsibility for a non-committal person like myself. However, many of my friends seem puzzled by this decision of mine. “But you treat children as a therapist, and you’re quite good with them! What’s the problem then?” they ask. But does someone have to hate children in order to not want to give birth to them? You can be exceptionally good with kids and still not want any of your own. However, it’s always hard not to notice the look ...

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Sakina’s soul is calling for justice, but is Pakistan listening?

Would it be true to suggest that only the mighty can get justice in Pakistan, or just another misnomer? No matter what side of the argument you support, it is undeniable that this is a question of wide importance in a country such as ours. On September 13, 2018, a brutal crime was committed in the Chak 92 JB area of Gojra. A man called Safdar, with the help of an accomplice, threw acid on a sleeping family out of revenge. The ferocity of the attack did not stop at this; they viciously poured acid into Sakina Bibi’s mouth and ...

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Ali Begum: A symbol of grit and perseverance making history in a no woman’s land

While there is no denying the fact that the expertise and contributions of men and women alike are sine qua non (essential) for the establishment of a prosperous and progressive society, it is also a grim and acrimonious reality that women in the tribal areas of Pakistan are excluded from the decision-making and nation-building processes. This callous attitude towards women is leading us nowhere. Notwithstanding our patriarchal and ultra-conservative society where gender discrimination and a misogynistic mindset still prevail, there is a valiant and indomitable woman who is defying the stereotypes of a male-dominated tribal society. Ali Begum, a woman who not ...

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In Pakistan, does #MeToo come with a desi tarka?

The #MeToo campaign was initiated by activist Tarana Burke, after she had a conversation with a 13-year-old girl who opened up to her about sexual abuse.  The victim: A 13-year-old girl.  The purpose: To give her a voice.  The concept was to create awareness, and give a platform to the victims when their vulnerability had been taken advantage of. This was sexual assault, a highly sensitive matter. The international movement was bound to come home one day, and of course, in a country where the Chinese don’t recognise their own Manchurian and where pizza has seekh kebab layered over it, we gave the #MeToo ...

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“Dua karo iss dafa beta ho” – Is being a ‘beti’ really the curse it’s made out to be?

Being the fourth daughter my parents were blessed with, I always used to ask them if they had ever wished I had been born a boy. I spent a lot of time wondering if, after having three girls, they were disappointed to see yet another daughter instead of a son. To my relief, my parents always responded to this question with a resounding ‘no’. Rather, they would get surprised and question me instead on the kind of nonsense that fills up my brain with questions such as these.   It is true that I have never felt loved any less by ...

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Sahir Lodhi needs to sit for his Pakistan Studies exam again, for Saba’s words were not hers at all

“Quaid-e-Azam aao zara tum, Dekho apna pakistan, Jiski bunyado ki khatir, Lakho ne di apni jaan.” (Quaid-e-Azam come, Look at your Pakistan, For whose foundation sake, Millions of lives were sacrificed.) So starts the poem penned by Urdu poetess Gulnar Afreen – the refrain of which has become ubiquitous thanks to its completion being denied to a young speaker very recently in a Ramazan transmission. Now while it makes perfect sense for the literarily crippled philistines of the country to know zilch about where the verse comes from, the fact that the farce was broadcasted on live television, specifically in the holy month of Ramazan, serves as something of an expergefactor. And while the masses in general and ...

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Naila Rind: Locking women up will not help secure them from sexual harassment, Pakistan

We cannot, as a nation, claim progress till our women feel safe everywhere at any time. The life of a woman in a man’s world was never easy, but nothing can be worse than not doing anything to change that. No matter how many steps we manage to take forward, we have just as many people pushing us back. By writing this, I wish to bring to the reader’s attention the way we are handling the Naila Rind case – a student of the University of Sindh, Jamshoro, who committed suicide after being constantly blackmailed and harassed. Our country does not have harassment policies ...

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So you think your wife doesn’t torture you? Think again!

When I read about the man who has gone to the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) to deal with the matter of husbands being tortured and thrown out of their houses by their wives, I burst into laughter. How can men be tortured by their wives? In most countries, it’s the women who are tortured, and in Pakistan, the torture is usually accompanied by rape and stripping women and making them walk on the streets even when they have done nothing wrong. Yet here is this man saying it’s the men who are being victimised by women. So I thought I’d look around and see ...

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