Stories about harassment

The ‘victim card’: why Pakistan remains a dangerous country for women

The rise of the #MeToo movement not only broke barriers internationally, it also created waves within Pakistan and encouraged women to speak up against their predators and abusers. Today, Pakistanis are more ‘woke’ than they have ever been. Gone are the days when women-centric issues were ridiculously hushed in the name of preserving ‘honour’. The concepts of ‘patriarchy’, ‘misogyny’ and ‘consent’ have finally made their way through to being publicly discussed, questioned and rebuked. However, things are nowhere near good enough yet. Pakistan is just awakening to the seriousness of harassment and abuse and how often this leads to rape, murder ...

Read Full Post

The night and the child

“Can you go out to get groceries?” “Nai, nai. Don’t send him out at this time,” my mother responded. “It’s okay,” I said. “Saath hi tau hai (it’s nearby).” “Okay, at least take the cook with you.” “It’s right here. I’ll be back in 10 minutes.” “Please keep your phone on.” “I’m 24-years-old,” I sighed to myself as I got the car keys. I got into the car and drove into the night. Driving in the night gave me a high. I loved how the headlights ate up a specific amount of the night. Just above the reach of the headlights was the darkness, pressing in from ...

Read Full Post

Who faced the music better: Meesha Shafi or Ali Zafar?

This week saw yet another development in Pakistan’s first #MeToo case: Ali Zafar spoke directly to the media for the first time since he filed a defamation case against Meesha Shafi for accusing him of sexual harassment. Zafar confidently told the media that Meesha’s case has been dismissed and he has been proven innocent by the court of law. This is blatantly untrue. In fact, it is a vicious way of misleading common people who are unaware of legal proceedings and only believe what they hear Zafar say on the news. What is actually happening? Firstly, according to Nighat Dad’s statement, Zafar has ...

Read Full Post

Will Uber end up destroying Careem as well?

As a young, 20-something, independent woman living in Lahore, I have made it a point to sustain my life and expenses all on my own. I do still live with my parents, but there is not much I rely on them for except their unwavering and unconditional love and support. This means I take care of my own transport, whether it is to travel to and from my workplace or frequently to run personal errands. A few years ago this was much harder as services like Uber and Careem were not available, but with their wide availability now, it has ...

Read Full Post

A trans daughter‘s letter to her family: Will you love the real me and not the man you want me to be?

Dear Abba and Maa, We live in the same house, but you have created a distance between us that leaves me feeling miles apart from you. Who generated this hatred in your heart? You can blame me for it if you wish, but I blame your fundamentalist understanding of religion and your rigid expectations of a gender role that I am unable to fulfil. Tell me, are these things more important to you than I am? I am a human being with flesh, blood and emotions. You are offering your love to imaginary abstractions, meanwhile I am left deprived of it. Abba, you ...

Read Full Post

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 ...

Read Full Post

Can winking and staring be considered criminal offences under Section 509 of the PPC?

Although the #MeToo movement has not taken off across class barriers or transgressed the rural-urban divide in Pakistan – the way it has in India – it’s already the cause of much alarm. Many are perturbed about the consequences of anarchic media trials. Men worry that one can put up an allegation on Facebook or Twitter and open a trial without any of the procedural protections a court trial would offer both parties – the accuser and the accused. These include lawyers, time to prepare, rebuttals and neutral adjudicators. However, the #MeToo movement contests this position. Legal remedy is not the ...

Read Full Post

The new high: You’re depressed not because “your life sucks” but because of Facebook and Instagram

“He is only 19 and so accomplished, what am I doing with my life?” “My hair never looks like that model on Instagram.” “Man! He is having the time of his life and I am just stuck in this miserable job!” “Why am I just sitting here in my pyjamas at home while this guy is vacationing in Bali?” Do you recognise the pattern in these statements? Have similar thoughts gone through your mind recently? If they have, you were probably thinking like this while surfing through your social media, being too depressed to do anything. Unfortunately, we do not realise just how ...

Read Full Post

Before you post that selfie on Insta, know that Penn Badgley is watching ‘You’

My latest TV obsession is as dark as it gets – a series based on the bestselling novel You, starring Penn Badgley, Elizabeth Lail and Shay Mitchell in the lead roles. This is Badgley’s second time experimenting with a negative character, as he previously exemplified the notorious gossip girl in Gossip Girl for six years. The premise of You revolves around Joe (Badgley), a bookstore manager who falls head over heels for a lousy writer, Beck (Lail). They say, looks can be deceiving, and this description rightly fits Joe’s erratic personality. Beck exchanges a few words with Joe while shopping for ...

Read Full Post

How Bill Cosby went from “America’s Dad” to #MeToo’s first victory

After I took my last exam at college, I walked towards the founder’s garden on campus and sat down on a wooden beach chair. I kicked my legs up and started working on my paper; the last one due before I was free for the summer. But amidst the heat and the groups of college students socialising, smoking or eating from food trucks, the letters ‘O’Connor’ gleamed and mocked me in the summer sun. Patrick O’Connor was the chair of the board of trustees at Temple University, a public college in Philadelphia, and a few months ago, O’Connor Plaza was renovated ...

Read Full Post