Stories about honour

“Dua karo iss dafa beta ho” – Is being a ‘beti’ really the curse it’s made out to be?

Being the fourth daughter my parents were blessed with, I always used to ask them if they had ever wished I had been born a boy. I spent a lot of time wondering if, after having three girls, they were disappointed to see yet another daughter instead of a son. To my relief, my parents always responded to this question with a resounding ‘no’. Rather, they would get surprised and question me instead on the kind of nonsense that fills up my brain with questions such as these.   It is true that I have never felt loved any less by ...

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She was found in a pool of dried blood

The light blue sky hung over Najeeba as she rushed on the wet, slippery streets of her city. The city was lit by neon lights emerging from clubs and bars around every other corner, and nightfall meant the noise of blaring car horns was so loud, she couldn’t even hear herself think. Terror clouded her mind, her eyes darting from one corner to another, fearing the longing gazes of street hawkers and lazy drivers, each of them with a disgusting smile plastered onto his face. She knew she would have to bear her father’s anger once she got home. She ...

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Verna: A story powerful and lucrative on paper but fails at its execution on screen

Rape is a serious issue that is prevalent in the society. Even talking about rape openly takes a lot of courage, let alone making a movie about it. Shoaib Mansoor is known for making thought-provoking movies on social issues that turn out to be a cinematic delight. His previous movies have been pieces of art for movie-lovers and film students. Verna is his third and recent instalment, so expectations obviously had to be soaring high. His previous movies starred big names like Shaan Shahid, Fawad Khan, Naseeruddin Shah, Imaan Ali, Atif Aslam and Humaima Malick. However, this time, Mansoor does not ...

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Nusrat and her dupatta

Nusrat loved to watch the sun come up in the morning, see its rising hues and its foes in the sky that wanted it to go back down – down, down, down, to the abyss of darkness, where there was no light, no hope. So, Nusrat would wake up at 5am. At 4am. At 3:30am. All to see the sun that rose so elegantly into the dewy mornings of October. But she never could. She never could stay tuned to the games of the sun, for the sun was a hopeful deity, and Nusrat’s hope was nonexistent now. So every morning, Nusrat would run with urgent ...

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In Pakistan, rape might go unpunished, but a movie on rape cannot

I recently came across the news regarding the ban on Verna, Shoaib Mansoor’s upcoming film, and was shocked, to say the least. Mansoor has played a monumental role in the revival of Pakistani cinema, delivering masterpieces like Khuda Kay Liye and Bol. Not only were both great films, they were also centred on very important issues that plague our society today. Bol highlighted the practice of having innumerable children in the name of religion, especially when you cannot even feed them, giving us the legendary line, “Jab paal nahin saktey, tou paida kyun karte ho?” (When you cannot provide for them, why do you give birth to them?) Likewise, the movie Khuda ...

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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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#MeToo: I am older, wiser and more determined than the little girl who was forced to hold an imam’s genitals – but not safer

The first time it happened, I was seven. An imam in our neighbourhood mosque held me, taking my hand, wrapping my fingers (they were still tiny) around his genitals, then massaging it. I was so small I did not know what it was that was in my hand. I had never seen it before and I certainly did not know what it felt like.  “Do you like it?” he asked again and again, until someone came to the room, and he quickly let go of me. Later, I told my mom about this peculiar incident, and she wept for weeks and months over ...

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Benazir Bhutto can wear western attire at Oxford and be praised for her achievements, but Malala Yousafzai can’t?

One can often witness how wearing hijab becomes an obstacle for women here in Pakistan. Be it at work, school or university, you will always be judged and scrutinised for everything you do. However, I have always wondered how a piece of fabric covering one’s head can depict an individual’s personality, to an extent that people believe it gives them the right to judge you for each and everything you say, do or wear. Recently, I came across the news of Malala Yousafzai getting admission into Oxford University and later being ‘spotted’ wearing a pair of jeans and a shirt with a dupatta covering her head. To my surprise, instead of being happy for her admission into one ...

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Why I choose not to speak up and say #MeToo

Social media is surreal most of the time; however, this past week has seemed more unreal than usual. My timeline on every social media platform has been flooded, or dare I say bombarded, with #MeToo status updates, tweets and posts. The hashtag went viral after American actress Alyssa Milano tweeted it to encourage more women to come forward with their experiences with sexual harassment, in response to the Harvey Weinstein scandal that shook Hollywood. If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet. pic.twitter.com/k2oeCiUf9n — Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) October 15, 2017 My feelings on this hashtag, which ...

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Honour is our national shame, not Mahira Khan

It’s 2017, which means every day one wakes up to a new outrage on social media – it is simply the way of the world now. You pick a side and tweet incessantly until the next outrage-inducing news comes along. Now, normally, I try my best to act reasonable and get some facts before I join the outrage train, so imagine my surprise when I see pictures of Mahira Khan smoking with Ranbir Kapoor, and I immediately begin to judge her. How could I not? Did you see what she was wearing? My first thought was, ‘wow, what a lovely dress!’ What do we have to ...

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