Stories about human rights

“I was raped hundreds of times, by the man I was married to”

That phase of her life ended three years ago with her divorce, but 35-year-old Naila* will never be healed of what she went through during the nine years of her marriage. This is a true story; the true story of a woman who suffered a plight faced by so many women. Sadly, the crime committed against them is not even considered a crime. “Every time my husband approached me, it was sheer torture. Sometimes physical, and forever mental and emotional torture. He was physically brutal and wanted me to indulge in behaviour I was not okay with. He never cared about ...

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Remembering those in Kashmir who exist but are missing

For hundreds of Kashmiri families whose relatives – mostly sons or husbands – have been subjected to custodial disappearances, the struggle for justice is, in many ways, a battle between memory and forgetfulness. They insist they won’t give up their fight; they won’t forget; and they won’t forgive. Among many other serious crimes committed against humanity in disputed Jammu and Kashmir, the Indian government forces are also accused of subjecting between 8,000 to 10,000 Kashmiris to enforced custodial disappearance since the eruption of popular armed uprising against Indian rule in restive Himalayan region in 1989. During a press conference in 2008, the state government led by ...

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Yes, because we need Selena Gomez and a Jonas brother to promote Malala’s campaign

By now, most of us are well aware of the white saviour narrative that has become a ubiquitous component to the Malala Yousafzai story. By now, we have seen Malala be rightfully lauded around the world for her bravery and dedication to the cause of equal educational opportunity. By now, we are mindful of the polarising sentiments that constitute a response to Malala’s name in this country. So when a promotional video for the We Are Silent campaign, a joint venture between The Malala Fund and Free The Children, hit the airwaves last week, it was not surprising that the Malala story was once again being ...

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Pakistani media should learn something from India’s Satyamev Jayate

Hypocrisy is one of Pakistan’s most wide-spread epidemics. The channel, which defamed and criticised a respectable educationist for ‘corrupting the youth’ of Pakistan by imparting sex education, occasionally airs inappropriate content full of sexual references during prime time. How exactly are we supposed to explain to our children what rape, ziyadti (dishonour), prostitution and najaiz jinsi taluqaat (inappropriate sexual relations) are when they hear these words on TV? Not only is the timing inapt but sometimes, it is also the content. Most of the channels have identical programs in which they ‘expose’ selected evils of the society. Some months ago, a channel aired a story about a ...

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Banish the CII

In a more civilised society where progress is equated with innovation, technological advancement and competitiveness, the recent ‘suggestions’ put forth by the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) and its band of brothers would certainly have been political suicide. This ‘advisory’ body – which has remained dormant until its ineptness surfaced – has proved itself to only serve as a control mechanism as to how people should live and conduct their lives, as is the case with all religiously sanctioned forums. The clerics, who constitute the CII, and many of their kind elsewhere, have served one and one purpose only: societal control for self-fulfilment. Because ...

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Remembering Jalib, remembering his fight against dictatorship

There was a man who audaciously used to say, “Mai nahi Manta” (I refuse to accept) He was neither a bourgeois nor a feudal and surely, he was not patronised by any ‘third force’ (Teesri Quwwat) that has a hand in every incident that takes place in Pakistan. He was an ideologue, charismatic and an eloquent poet. Moreover, he was best known for his revolutionary zeal. He struggled for the restoration of democracy and human rights. His enthralling poetry elucidated the notorious rule of dictators. However, his poesy still befits today’s political setting. That man was none other than the great Habib Ahmed Jalib. Dastoor was ...

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What is the point of International Women’s Day anyway?

In the land of technicolour, is there space for grey areas? Welcome to Pakistan. We are rapidly moving towards a positive change, for example, everyone now knows what Aldo sells – everyone who is anyone, that is. Another, more poignant example is how we are all set to celebrate International Women’s Day in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan for all the right reasons. Or at least that’s what we have been told – be happy on March 8 and go give the next woman you find a pat on the back. She may turn around and slap you but that’s okay. It ...

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Don’t just fret about a channel you dislike, report it to PEMRA!

Following the uproar caused by the controversial episode of Abb Tak’s show, Khufia, where the host, Uzma Tahir, forced entry into the home of a transvestite couple and tried to film their life, many viewers decided to display their outrage over various platforms: some expressed their anger over social media with the help of Facebook and Twitter; others wrote blogs that were published online on The Express Tribune’s blog page. However, there were some that took a different route: many viewers decided to directly appeal to the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA). If one visits the official website of Pemra, there is a ...

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You can’t care about animal rights on an empty stomach

Rehmu was on his last tour of the day, carrying bricks from one point to another on his donkey cart. He needed to do at least five such tours a day in order to earn enough for a sufficient meal for him and his family. But today he could only do four and he knew that it would not be enough for his family. He was thinking that either he or his wife would have to pretend not to be hungry that night. He had known since that morning that he would not have enough work today. His mind had ...

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Be Pakistani, support the Pakistan Protection Ordinance

Leadership has never been our strong suit. When it’s time to step up to the challenge and rally the nation on a certain path, our leadership crashes; it always falls short of selling an idea and forming a narrative. Similar is the case with the Pakistan Protection Ordinance (PPO), which has fallen victim to proponents on the left who argue that the ordinance violates human rights and may be a prelude to governmental tyranny. Sure, point taken that it represents such implications. But this ordinance was made to bypass the parliament not because Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is in the process of ...

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