Stories about gender discrimination

We lack the wisdom to raise our sons the way we raise our daughters

Before our son Kareem was born, my wife Priya, my daughter Madina and I were on a flight and we ended up sitting next to a woman who was expecting her first child. I sat in the middle seat between Priya and the expecting woman while the two of them discussed things only an expecting mother could discuss with another mother. At one point we asked if she knew the gender of her baby and she said, “A boy thankfully. I am so relieved.” As she went on to explain why she’s relieved, she said having a girl would be a lot more ...

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Let’s address our own double standards before blaming Ayaan Ali

The University of Karachi (KU) has been home to intellectual discussions and scholarly rendezvous since time immemorial. Academic finesse is ubiquitous here and I have always found myself inspired while walking through its corridors and thinking about all the greats who have walked the same path before me. The university has had the privilege to host esteemed guests at its various ceremonies – it has seen the likes of Haseena Moin, Ibne Insha, Zia Mohyeddin and many other legends who have come and inspired students with their lectures. Contemporary celebrities like Fawad Khan, Mahira Khan, Kamila Shamsie, Sania Saeed, Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan and others have also recently shown their support ...

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The mysterious case of Muzaffar Shahid

It was around 9am when the doorbell rang. Arsalan was having breakfast in the kitchen. Amna had already dropped her three children to school and was standing in front of the freezer, contemplating the day’s menu. “Were you expecting someone?” Arsalan looked at her questioningly. “No,” she answered, as she walked out the kitchen and towards the front door. She peered through the peephole and saw a man and a woman in police uniforms. She didn’t open the door and went back to the kitchen. “It’s the police,” she told Arsalan. “You get the door.” Arsalan was up in an instant. “Good morning,” both the officers smiled ...

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AIB Controversy: Who has the last laugh, India or the moral police?

Although New Delhi’s legislative assembly elections are just round the corner and the city that has been the helm of power in the subcontinent for centuries will choose between its ‘aam aadmis’ and ‘khaas aadmis’, the fulcrum of debate instead is a comedy show uploaded to YouTube, a video-sharing website, that many Pakistanis wouldn’t know of, on January 28, 2015. It is fascinating how one chooses to become a comedian in a part of the world where something funny is going on all the time. A few years back a group of witty comedians, comprising Tanmay Bhat, Gursimran Khamba, Rohan ...

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Let your children be Emma Watson, let them be Malala

I recently watched the impassioned speech that Emma Watson made for launching the UN’s ‘HeForShe’ campaign. It was a sincere appeal for a better understanding of the ‘feminist’ movement and its singular goal to establish equal rights and freedoms for both men and women. Now, in total honesty, I have grown up with a very different interpretation of what ‘feminism’ is! In fact, while I have always been taught by my family and have believed in equal rights for boys and girls, I have not really associated this with the ‘feminist movement.’ Maybe it is the word itself…why was it ever called a ‘feminist’ ...

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I am a girl and I love going to the mandi

It is considered a universal fact that a cattle market (mandi) is no place for a woman. “It’s a guy thing”, they say. “What would you do in a mandi?” They ask. “Are you sure you want to spoil that dress of yours while going there?” They ridicule. However, it wasn’t until I was physically present in a cattle market that I understood why the mandi was no place for a woman. And no, it had nothing to do with the animals. It had more to do with the people who were there to buy and sell. For me, they were the real ...

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Jailed by my own brother

I am a computer engineer who graduated from one of the best universities for computer sciences and IT in Pakistan. I was very happy when I graduated in 2012. My GPA was not perfect, but it was still good enough to get a job. I was so happy. I had so many dreams, ones that would make my single mother very proud. I dreamt of getting some respect in this society that had treated me as a ‘yateem’ (orphan) for far too long. I dreamt of buying expensive dresses, being free and finding my ‘Mr Right’. I had dreams of becoming so ...

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In Pakistan, ‘It’s On Us’ to protect women from sexual harassment

I remember a crowded market back in Karachi where we stood in a corner going through the merchandise. I was with one of my ‘foreign-educated’ aunts. Suddenly, I saw her face turn a shade of red. I dismissed it and we went back to sifting through the clothes.  A few moments later, it happened again. Her face turned red and her brows creased, but this time she turned around and before I knew it, she had grabbed a young boy by the collar.  “Can’t watch where you’re going huh? This is the third time you’ve passed by this place and grabbed ...

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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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Not her fault

I saw her eyes as she begged, I said forgive me and she left, I wondered what her life was like, Why she begged, where she slept at night. Because her feet were bare, Her clothes were torn, But was it her fault that she was born? In a family that can’t give her, All the things a child may want? *** Five-years-old when they came, Broke her innocence, broke her to shame, But why should she feel this way? Was the pain not enough, and now the shredded name? She was found somewhere in a ditch alone, Her clothes were torn, Her smile was gone. But was it her fault that she was born? In a world that gives men, All ...

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