Stories about honour killing

My brother hit me, but to my family I am the villain

When my brother hit me, I realised that Qandeel Baloch didn’t even have to become Qandeel Baloch for her brother to murder her; he would have done it anyway. I have realised that there are men out there who think they are born with the right to govern women, to humiliate them, to hit them, and if all of that is still not enough, to kill them. They choose easy targets, women who live with them, their wives, their sisters, even their mothers. Because they know these women will forgive them, and believe in their fake apologies and tears. They won’t do ...

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The reactions to Qandeel’s death reveal no understanding of feminism in Pakistan

They call her a prostitute, a sex object, a joke and other degrading insults in an attempt to discredit her. They assume that because they deem her to be all of the above, she cannot at the same time be empowering women and/or herself. A fatal flaw is, thus, exposed in their argument in that she is struck down for what women (and men) across the world celebrate her for: her courage, tenacity and fire to be whoever she chose to be in a society that (literally) stifles freedom—especially freedom of expression. As I reflect upon this week, many voices ...

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When honour lies in what happens between the legs of women

Qandeel Baloch is dead. Seems like the woman had earned the ire of way too many men. In Pakistan, the ire of one man is enough to claim your life or at least ruin your face forever with a splash of some acid. First, it was Maulana Abdul Qavi, followed by her husband’s revelations. Finally, her brother came for her life. One woman against three mighty vicegerents of God? Boy, she needed to be put back in her skin and reminded of her auqaat (place) as a woman. Let’s fragment her experiences with the mentioned three men. Qavi The then Ruet-e-Hilal Committee member got embroiled ...

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A special place in hell is not enough for women like these

Two or three days ago, a young woman was accosted by an older woman for ‘not wearing appropriate attire’. You can see what the poor young woman was wearing here. Not that that’s important. But, anyway.  This older woman harassed this young lady (who wanted her identity to be protected, so we’ll call her MJ) and continued to touch her despite her requests. She later threatened MJ, stating that she ‘knew her license plate’ and MJ threatened to lodge an FIR against her and eventually the woman’s husband, a seemingly more neutral fellow, managed to get his wife to apologise ...

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Will we ever be able to fill in the gaps in Pakistan’s social fabric?

A recent poll done by BBC World Service, found that people are more likely than ever to identify as ‘global citizens’. According to Globescan, which conducted the poll and interviewed more than 20,000 people, over 56 per cent of Pakistanis identify as global citizens. While 27 per cent identify as Pakistanis first, and 43 per cent say their religion comes before their nationality. Is the nation failing its citizens or has globalisation made borders so meaningless that people need new political orders to anchor them? Or is it just stating the obvious; Muslims are always Muslims first, nationals second? The caliphates ...

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The problem is not with the PTI jalsa, it is with our misogynistic mindset

The women harassment incident at a public demonstration by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) in Islamabad was taken by storm on social media. The news didn’t only spread like wildfire but invited scorching criticism from all and sundry. The condemnation spree was so intense that the Chairman of PTI, Imran Khan, had to offer a public apology, one that was rightly due on his part, to appease the critics. Besides an apology, he assured that there would be an investigation into the matter and that the culprits would be taken to the task. He further assured that more precautionary and rigorous arrangements would be ...

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Why Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy made A Girl in the River

Last night I had the good fortune to attend the first Pakistani public screening of the Oscar winning film A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness. I also conducted a Q&A afterwards with the film’s director Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, who’s been dealing with a lot of controversy in Pakistan for the film’s subject matter and its global success. The movie’s about a young woman who survived an honour killing and lived to take her would-be killers – her own father and uncle – to court. Did Sharmeen make this film for western consumption, as a “transaction” as feminist writer Rafia Zakaria puts ...

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Why do Pakistanis cheer Brandon Stanton, but attack Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy?

Like so many in Pakistan, I was pleased when American photo-blogger Brandon Stanton, founder of Humans of New York, visited the country to tell the stories of every day Pakistanis. As with his other excellent work, Brandon shared some moving tales, creating empathy as only he can. At the end of his Pakistan series, Brandon moved on to a despicable social ill of Pakistan: Bonded Labour, which is used to victimise thousands of Pakistanis and has been described as modern day slavery by the United Nations. Like any good journalist, Brandon highlighted the issue by sharing several heart-breaking stories alongside striking photos while relating some ...

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Why don’t men give women the rights guaranteed to them by religion?

Pakistani women are playing an active role in society and have attained success in fields that were considered to be ‘no go zones’ a few years ago. Although they are taking strides towards prosperity and financial independence, further efforts need to be made in order for them to gain their share of honour and dignity. Could you have imagined, a decade ago, that Pakistan would have scores of female fighter pilots in its Air Force? Could you have imagined a year that Pakistan’s soil would be emboldened with the memory of a female martyr, Flying Officer Marium Mukhtiar? Many of you are nodding your ...

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Reza Aslan versus Bill Maher: Learning the crucial difference between culture and religion

Responsible schooling, governance, international diplomacy, accountability and conscientious citizens are the demands of modern society. However, popular media despite its presence in every home, remains the most ignorant, irresponsible and manipulative aspect of modern life. With its capacity to communicate instantly, the world with its current atmosphere of extremism, global stress and social and political upheavals is more open to suggestions in a way it was never before. Therefore, manipulation by entities with access to an audience has wider influence than before. Labels are among the pithiest vehicles of language. They appeal most strongly to unthinking individuals, starting with those of all faiths in the pulpit ...

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