Stories about honour killing

She was forced to parade around naked, but instead of helping her, we photo’d her and shared it on social media

Recently, a 16-year-old girl was forcefully stripped and paraded around the streets of a village in Dera Ismail Khan in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) province. The reason given was that she was ‘paying the price for her brother’s crimes’. Her brother had allegedly gotten involved in a relationship with a girl from the village. To resolve the matter, he had already been fined by the local jirga and the tehsil nazim. But obviously, some hot-blooded relatives were not satisfied and decided to pay back in the same coin. While the news itself was both saddening and infuriating, it reiterated the bitter truth that ...

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The hits and misses from the Pakistani drama industry in 2017

When it comes to Pakistani dramas in 2017, there has been a diverse range to choose from. There are dramas that fray towards the whimsical side, as well as those that have empowering messages about relevant social issues. A conversation about Pakistani dramas, however, is incomplete without criticism on the portrayal of the roti dhoti aurtein (miserable women) of our society. Listed below are the top and flop dramas of 2017 so far: Baaghi The drama is consistently scoring high Television Rating Points (TRP) and gaining a strong word of mouth due to its incredible script. Saba Qamar’s portrayal of Fouzia Batool aka Qandeel Baloch is one ...

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Banning triple talaq is one small step for India but one giant leap for Muslim women

When five men from different faiths – Hinduism, Christianity, Sikhism, Islam and Zoroastrianism – convened yesterday morning, an entire nation waited to hear their much-awaited verdict on the triple talaq issue in India. Out of the five judges, three of them were clear in what they wanted. They announced the following, “What is sinful under religion cannot be valid under law.” Thus, triple talaq (divorce via saying it thrice) was rendered illegal in India and rightfully so. The landmark judgment stated, “Triple talaq may be a permissible practice but it is retrograde and unworthy. Since triple talaq is instant, it is irrevocable and the marital tie gets broken, it violates the right to ...

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So far, Baaghi is authentic and impactful – but will it continue to be so?

Currently airing on Urdu 1 and starring Saba Qamar, Ali Kazmi, Sarmad Khoosat, Irfan Khoosat, Nadia Afghan and Saba Faisal, is a drama called Baaghi. This drama explores the life of Fouzia Azeem aka Qandeel Baloch, the social media superstar who was murdered by her brother in the name of honour. Qamar plays Fouzia Batool – a sparky, witty woman residing in a small village in Punjab. She’s not your average village damsel; she harasses her harassers and talks back to anyone who dare oppress her. Filled with an inviting antagonism and natural charm, Fouzia’s personality is a firecracker. She dances at weddings and sings Noor Jehan songs. ...

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The rape story we are all living inside of

It’s not science fiction and it’s not the nation’s growth story. It’s the rape story we are all living inside of. In this rape story, your female/male/trans body is owned broadly by the state but specifically and practically by your father, and next to him, your elder brothers, and next to them, your uncles and your younger brothers. They decide who to hand over your body to. This new person now has rights to access your body, its seed and its fruit. Sometimes money exchanges are involved in this story. The new owner of a female body takes money in addition to control ...

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Ghairat: Exploring the orthodox beliefs and customs of honour killings and love marriages

Just when we started to see a glimmer of hope due to recent political events, many of us were given a harsh reality check. We were once again made to see the reality of our patriarchal society. We are once again talking about honour by stooping down to the level of discussing an unsuspecting female’s choice of clothing to become Pakistan’s top female squash player. We are once again associating izzat (honour) with the restrictive codes that women in Pakistan are expected to abide by. I will leave this specific matter until further investigation and evidence from both parties. However, this particular incident has evoked memories of several horror stories of honour killings in ...

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Can Baaghi aptly and fairly portray the layered, complicated and uncovered truths of Qandeel Baloch’s life and death?

The year 1994 saw the release of the biographical film, Bandit Queen, based on the life and times of India’s famous dacoit who went by the name of Phoolan Devi. The director and producer of the film proudly claimed it to be a ‘true story’. However, it was only a matter of time before critical acclaim and raving reviews started pouring in from all quarters. It was then that the Booker Prize winner Arundhati Roy picked bones with the movie. She said that making such a movie was trespassing of the vilest degree. Devi was alive when the film was released and yet she was ...

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See Qandeel, all you had to do was die in order for us to stop hating you

Kohl-ridden eyes, polished nails, puckered up lips covered in the defying shade of rebellion; she rapidly rose to fame from the platform of social media. Writhing to the beat of self-promotion, dressed up in the daring fabric of ‘baring it all’, Qandeel Baloch launched herself as an actress, singer and social media starlet (the puritans rhymed it with ‘harlot’). Let us establish one thing before the comment section fills up with accusatory fingers and self-righteous sermons. This is an opinion piece, not a verdict of virtue and sin. All of us first heard about Qandeel through one friend or another, mostly urging us to hate-watch ...

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Do Pakistani female legislators actually represent women or merely serve as “proxies” for the wealthy and elite?

In the male dominated South Asian region, women are considered a marginalised faction of society. While describing South Asian women in politics, there are contradicting accounts. On one hand, there are examples of women like Indira Gandhi, Benazir Bhutto, Hasina Wajid and Khaleda Zia as prime ministers, while on the other, the majority of women are seen as poor, illiterate and lacking political, social and economic opportunities. A general perception ascribed to women in South Asian politics is that they belong to higher social strata and certain political parties, which aides their journey into the mainstream political arenas. However, women in general still lack the opportunities to participate and represent in the ...

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Terrorist attacks? Sectarian violence? Civil strife? Maybe if we arrest Nasir Khanjan and ban Valentine’s Day everything will be okay…

As a writer of some notoriety, I received a message yesterday including some choice expletives. When pressed about the reason as to why I deserved such “kindness”, I was told that I targeted our Pakistani values with one of my posts. After questioning this person for 20 minutes, my assailant could not name a single value I was targeting.

That is the beauty of blaming somebody over something as intangible as values, honour or image – you do not have to prove anything. You can mask your dislike for something under the pretence of national concerns. My popularity is nothing compared to that of Nasir ...

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