Stories about harassment

A nightmare for the LGBTQ community, there is a lot going wrong with ‘Adam’

Every now and then, efforts are made by filmmakers to produce a movie representing the LGBTQ community as accurately and unbiasedly as possible. However, very few of these movies fulfill their aim while also being politically correct. Adam, based on its namesake novel, is a prime example of this case. Released recently on August 14th, the film has already managed to garner quite a lot of criticism, a trending hashtag against it and a petition to boycott it. Marketed as ‘one of the most exciting LGBTQ films of the year’, Adam is, in fact, a classic exemplar of what exactly a ...

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Cyber bullying: Misogyny under the garb of animal welfare

Ayesha Chundrigar Foundation (ACF) is an animal rescue service in Karachi that provides free treatment and shelter to stray animals along with managing other projects. A few weeks back, on their Facebook page, ACF posted a video of a ‘pet owner’ who was attempting to leave eight severely infected Persian kittens at the shelter without informing the staff or following their protocol. The man continued to resist and injured one of the girls working at ACF. Although the video clearly showed the man being disruptive, struggling to get inside his car, and drive off leaving the sick kittens behind but inevitably ...

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The wider implications of #MeToo and #TimesUp in Pakistan

“Cancelled” – that’s the impromptu public response whenever a known personality is accused of harassment. When Ukhano (Umar Khan) was exposed for alleged harassment recently by multiple women, he was instantly ‘cancelled’ by a significant percentage of people on social media, that is until Polish vlogger Eva Zu Beck shared her experience of working with him. Just because he hasn’t harassed you, doesn’t mean he’s not a harasser In an Instagram story, Beck shared how she went trekking with Khan for two months, during which he never made her feel uncomfortable or threatened at any point. It made sense for her to come out in support of her ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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