Stories about human rights

Why shouldn’t our transgender community have a job quota in Punjab?

In April 2013, Pakistan saw a new ray of hope, as transgender candidates filled in nominations from different constituencies, in different parts of the country. Not only were they given the right to vote, but the Supreme Court also gave them the right to own a National Identity Card, a legal share in their family’s inheritance as well as a reserved two percent quota of jobs in all sectors. As Bindiya Rani, the president of the Sindh chapter of the Gender Interactive Alliance (GIA), so beautifully puts it, “People kept asking me what the outcomes of the elections would be. I strongly feel that I ...

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Is letting immigrants into the US un-American?

Immigration is a highly painful subject in America, and has been instrumental in polarising the already divided public opinion. President Obama has time and again promised to deal with the issue but has encountered strong opposition from various quarters, especially the Republicans and those on the far right. While politics in Washington is a messy business and it is nothing but miraculous to find the Congress actually being able to get something done, the president has incessantly worked hard for immigration reform. Soon after late last year’s House and Senate defeats at the hands of the Republics, Obama, a Democrat, decided to break the immigration ...

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The line between ‘expression’ and ‘hate’

Undeniably, it’s everywhere; you’ll find some Charlie Hebdos at your dinner table – some who never want to be Charlie, and then some who, like me, are stuck in the sticky web of internal debate. Since Charlie Hebdo and its counterparts made headlines, my mind has been whizzing with questions of determining where I stand on the issue. It’s clear that I appreciate the limitless power of the pen but I’m certain I also respect the sentiments of those who read my words. The question I have stopped dead at is plain: is the freedom to write whatever I want my right or a ...

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The problem with “collateral damage” in a “surgical air-strike”

The questioning gaze of that drone victim, who lost one of his family members – with eight others injured – on the fateful day of October 24, 2012, in a drone strike at South Waziristan, still haunts my memory every time a new strike occurs. Just today, four more people were killed in North Waziristan; they too shall be termed as “collateral damage” of a “precise air-strike” against “terrorists” hiding in the “safe havens”, and forgotten or not even talked about as individual human beings in the first place. When will this loss of innocent human life stop? Who will make the American government accountable for this ...

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12 and married

The small private clinic was echoing with mixed voices – those of ear-piercing shrills and loud excitement. Waiting to see my doctor, I realised the commotion in the maternity section with nurses rushing through a storm of women – aunts and grandmothers waiting on news of a baby child. Passing it on as regular routine at the clinic, I was alarmed when the doctor came out scolding the elderly woman in the group who was wailing, claiming the doctor did not do enough to save the child. The doctor told the waiting family, “The poor girl would have died in labour. She was ...

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In Iran, a woman cannot watch a volleyball match?

The two recent alarming incidents of women rights abuse in Iran has awestruck the entire world, and yes, as cynical as it may sound, like all the other stories, these two shall be forgotten soon as well. One woman named Reyhaneh Jabbari gets executed for murdering her alleged rapist and the other British-Iranian woman, Ghoncheh Ghavami has been sentenced to one year in prison for watching a volley ball match. Yes, watching a “volley ball” match is a crime in Iran. The authorities deny this to be the reason for her detention and are accusing her of “spreading propaganda against the state”. Yes ladies ...

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When will the barbarity of beheading end in Saudi Arabia?

Savagery and barbarity still exists in the present era of enlightenment; where the days of ignorance of Arabia and the dark ages of Europe and the Roman era still lurk in the shadows of today. It is when a state sponsored beheading rears its ugly head that we are reminded of the remnants of brutality seen during the dark ages gone by, that we seem to have adopted today. In 2011, at least 82 executions were carried out in Saudi Arabia; more than triple the figure of at least 27 executions in 2010. In 2012, a similar number of people were executed. The ...

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For the West, Malala fits the image of Pakistan but Edhi does not

Let me begin by saying that I like Malala Yousafzai – she is courageous, authentic and has great conviction. But a couple of questions keep dwelling in my mind; why does the West like her so much? What is her appeal to them? And along with these questions dwells the answer as well, which is quite simple; the West is courting her because she represents a side of Pakistan and Islam that suits them. By suggesting this, I am not trying to imply that Malala doesn’t deserve her accolades; she represents hope, valour, defiance and the image of a strong ...

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In Pakistan, the #VIPCulture has to go

Commuting in metropolitan cities like Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad often bestows upon you the unforgettable experience of being reminded how ‘ordinary’ you are. You may only use the road when it isn’t being used by a Very Important Person (VIP). When a policeman raises his hand or puts a picket to stop you, he may only be saying ‘stop and wait’ but what you actually hear is, “Wait, you ordinary, worthless citizen! Your time, life and business are of no value. Wait while the all-important VIP passes”. It is quite similar to how when kings and queens passed through markets and ...

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First execution in 6 years: Government plays with Shoaib’s life

Pakistan ranks sixth in the total number of people it executes after China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and the United States. According to Amnesty International estimates, there are more than 8,500 prisoners on death row in Pakistan. The only legal method of killing a condemned prisoner is hanging them till their neck breaks.  According to the International Commission of Jurists, Pakistan is ‘part of a dwindling minority among states which have retained the death penalty and carry out executions’. However, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s policy on the execution of death sentences is still at best – unclear. An order issued by former president Asif Ali ...

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