Stories about inequality

Because ‘court is no place for women’

For most female legal practitioners in Pakistan, sexism and misogyny are an unavoidable occupational hazard. It usually begins during their very first job interview when they are asked questions that no male employee is asked and are actively discouraged from pursuing a career that they have worked hard to earn a degree in. “We don’t encourage women to go to court,” is what a partner at one of the biggest law firms in Lahore told a female colleague of mine during a job interview. You could be the most eloquent orator that this country has ever seen, and they’d ...

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How to get rich while saving billions in taxes in Pakistan

I’ve read a lot on how to get rich in a short span of time if you are living in a developing country like Pakistan. But all the writers of such articles have missed the easiest method of all – collude with the customs to cheat the government. One way of doing this is what an enterprising importer did recently. In this case alone, the company must have cheated the government of at least Rs100 million by importing 80,000 cell phones (which were recovered from the bungalow) without any payment of duty and taxes. In another raid, the authorities seized a container (belonging to the same ...

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“Yahan peshaab karnay wala ghada hai”: To pee or not to pee?

The traffic, temperature and the pressure is at its peak, with one hand on his bladder Ritesh Kumar stands between a locked public washroom and a mosque. Karachi: Each no-go area is a safe house for another; welcome to Karachi, a city of 16 million people where public lavatories have become equally restricted for the militant, khaki or a civilian. “Yahan peshaab karnay wala ghada hai.” Whoever urinates here is a donkey. These warnings are painted on many walls in Karachi. The only option people have is to accept the compliments written on the walls and keep on going. According to UNICEF, “There are ...

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Jinnah’s letter to Pakistan: Who do I hold accountable?

My precious, Where do I begin? Where do I end? 68 years ago, you two breathed your first – I remember it like it was yesterday. It wasn’t ideal. They thought you two wouldn’t be able to make it, but you did. I was such a proud father – the effort, the commitment, the resolve, it all had finally paid off. After the euphoria died down, it was time to snap back to reality. The challenges ahead were steep, but both of you had my unwavering support. My health was giving up on me and I knew I did not have a lot ...

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Five stereotypes that ‘Devious Maids’ smartly shuns away

The comedy-drama series Devious Maids made its much anticipated return with the release of season three in June 2015. The show stars Roselyn Sanchez, Dania Ramirez, Ana Ortiz, Edy Ganem, and Judy Reyes as five Latina maids working for elitist families in Beverly Hills, California, with dreams and ambitions of their own. But these five women are not just cleaning floors or washing dishes for a living. Apparently they hold on to many dirty secrets of the families they work for. However, keeping the ‘devious’ element aside, I believe the show suppresses a number of stereotypes and clichés about Latinas that the writers indirectly try to enlighten ...

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Times A-changin’: A seven-year-old girl’s open letter to Lego about gender inequality

Charlotte Benjamin, a seven-year-old girl, visited a Lego store and noticed that the few girl legos that were available were only ‘sit at home, go to the beach, shop and had no jobs’ while the boys ‘went on adventures, worked, saved people, had jobs and even swam with sharks’. That’s quite an observation and a strong opinion for a child so young. Lego is a popular construction toy manufactured by The Lego Group, a private company based in Billund, Denmark. Lego consists of colourful interlocking plastic bricks and a collection of mini figures and gears. Lego blocks can be connected and ...

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If you are reading this, you are part of the 0.1% elect few

Greetings! If you are reading this blog, you are a part of the ‘elect’, the fortunate ones in this great country of un-equals. Let me tell you something more about yourself. You are able to read in English and hold a conversation in the language and this very ability makes you one of the privileged ones: out of a population of nearly 200 million, only six million Pakistanis are able to afford a daily newspaper and out of this tiny number, a further 60,000 happen to read the English ones. A strong correlative factor determining your present status is that you went to a good private school ...

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Husband and wife: Who pays what?

Your husband earns and so do you, but do you share financial responsibility? In Pakistan, I have seen women proactively arguing for gender equality. We have heard countless rants about how they are entitled to have careers just like their spouses. So, does this also mean that when a woman is given the liberty to work, she must contribute financially along side her husband? Is it to be understood between both partners that an equal share is to be injected towards the family’s expenditure? After all, isn’t ‘equality’ what women all around the world have been fighting for? When a husband and wife both take on the role of ...

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Boys just can’t be girls

Sitting alone in a train compartment, I waited for my co-passengers to arrive in Bangalore. Like several people, I enjoy being a silent observer of those around me and particularly on a long journey that I was about to undertake, I figured, it was a fine pastime. I was headed from Bangalore to New Dehli.  A lady, not more than 35-years-old, struggled her way into my compartment carrying a rather heavy child in her left arm and balancing a huge suitcase in her right. Her hair undone, sweat rolling down her forehead, her eyes showed relief that she made it ...

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A day in the life of Nasreen kaamvaali

Get-togethers at our place had increasingly become as monotonous John Grisham’s novels – the same faces, the same stories. That was before a fecund family brought along its 12-year-old maid who doubled as a nanny. Nasreen had a clean face, shampooed hair and possibly her best dress on, but bent by the weight of a chubby baby, she seemed like a blot on the landscape. She couldn’t be part of light-hearted flirtation, political discussions or trade cooking recipes, so she just sat in the corner and smiled. For a pubescent girl stuck with a two-year-old who, when not eating or sleeping, could ...

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