Stories about gender

When to use or lose identifiers

Ethnicity, religion, sect and gender. Do we or do we not, as journalists, use these as identifiers in a headline or in the introduction of a story when we are reporting on an incident –  that is perhaps a question that every journalist has to ask and the answer is never clear. When is it right to mention ethnicities or religion? Does it add any news value to a story or can it be the catalyst or inciting possible hatred amongst ethnic or religious groups? The question we journalists often ask is that if we do not mention these identifiers, are ...

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Gender disparity and education for all

Each year, the United Nations announces a different theme for International Women’s Day. This year celebrations revolve around the need to ‘Empower rural women: End Hunger and Poverty’. I only wish the world body would focus on the apparently-simple, yet not-so-easy aspiration of doing away with gender disparity in education. That would be a true celebration of womanhood – to have the right to quality, universal education. If only we could celebrate no other theme but that every year, rest assured the rest of the objectives will follow almost automatically. [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FvWfuQ6wQXQ&feature=related] Global education has to be our most compelling need if we are to ...

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Harassment doesn’t stop us

A recent news story published in The Express Tribune reported a female traffic warden in Lahore who had to get transferred from road duty after she was groped by a man on a motorbike. She said:  “I cried at the CTO’s office and he ordered me transferred to the Ticketing Branch. The same thing happened to several other wardens.” The idea of including female traffic wardens in to the field was to make society a safer place for women. Officers thought that once the commuters saw a lady in charge, they would behave themselves. Unfortunately, that was not the case. It is ...

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International Urdu conference: Lack of hot debate

Karachi is a strange place. Every day there is a new calamity. Every day you hear shots being fired. Every day there is targeted killing. Every day tortured bodies are recovered from gunny bags. Then there is a break and life returns to normal and there is such hustle and bustle in the streets and bazaars that it appears to be a very peaceful and prosperous metropolis. It was during a break like this that I landed in Karachi. The Express Media Group had organised a two-day international Urdu conference. And it was truly international for it featured not only ...

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Is it time for gay rights in Pakistan?

Earlier this month, for the first time in its history, the United Nations (UN) passed a resolution to protect and uphold gay rights universally. The US Department of State successfully lobbied to bring under the banner of universal declaration of human rights, equal rights for lesbians, gays, and transgender people. The resolution was passed with 23 affirmations against 19 disavowals. While some of us celebrate this momentous turn in attitudes, it is sobering to note that it took the UN this long to recognise the oppressive violence faced by homosexuals everybody and to finally declare that yes, gays are human ...

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Bol: Speaking silence

Shoaib Mansoor’s Bol is brutally honest. Based on the stories of Hakeem Sahib’s Sunni-Syed household of seven daughters, the movie adeptly focuses on gender issues at large, dwelling on tensions between fossilised cultural practices and new ones, speaking well to tensions underlying many South Asian households. With reports on the status of women’s rights in Pakistan doing rounds, Mansoor’s social commentary is timely for villages, towns and cities across the country. Before the screening for human rights activists and politicians at a small non-commercial setting in Islamabad on June 11, Mansoor told his female audience that this was every Pakistani woman’s ...

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Transgender: Of sense and sexuality

I talk about AIDS, sex and sexuality. Don’t look at me that way. I, too, belong to a religious conservative family. No, I am not a non-believer. No, I do not have AIDS. Yes, I am a woman. Yes, I have morals. This issue has been taboo, cursed and frowned upon. It has been buried so deep, that it is almost impossible to even think about talking of. But I do. I conduct and facilitate workshops on  HIV/AIDS awareness. ————— This is the story of two people I met a couple of weeks ago. They both liked boys. They were both shy, and could not speak at ...

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Women are the weaker sex – so what?

The pervasive staring can be annoying and so can a look on some mens’ faces which says: “she’s just a woman.” While most Pakistani women are victims of inequality, abuse and threats I believe there is a ray of light that often goes unnoticed. In my experiences, many middle-to-upper class women in Pakistan are delicately handled -like valuable, glass objects. They are respected at least outwardly and even allowed to disgrace men in public for initiating eye contact. In spite of the blatant prejudices, should such women appreciate the small advantages they are given in the Pakistani society? On the bus My journey towards exploring the ...

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Victims of patriarchy: Save the women of Pakistan

My last blog post on soaring cases of rapes in Pakistan received a mixed review. While some readers appreciated the issues that I highlighted as being responsible for the increasing numbers of the gruesome tragedy, to others the piece was nothing but a Islam bashing, ‘westernized’ viewpoint coming from the pen of a feminist! And while a few of the emails that I received from our foreign readers discussed the hardships that rape victims all over the world have to face and live with (appalled at the lack of support for these victims in Pakistan), there were other countrymen ...

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The Birdcage, distorted in Pakistan

Having first learned of the theatrical debut of ‘BirdCage’ in Lahore, I could not help but feel jubilation and mirth. A gay-themed play? I almost fainted with anticipation. This was something I was definitely going to watch. First things first. The producer Dawar Lashari, co-producers Waleed Zafar and Shaheryar Khan and director Ijlal Khan must not only be thanked for bringing us this light-hearted comedy amidst these insane times to our country, where one cannot switch to news channels without expecting another macabre breaking news, but also they should be lauded for their courage to even think of staging a gay-themed play. However, ...

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