Stories about oppression

Procreation as a form of oppression: Why I don’t want to have any children

I have always been repelled by the idea of having kids of my own. It has always felt like too much responsibility for a non-committal person like myself. However, many of my friends seem puzzled by this decision of mine. “But you treat children as a therapist, and you’re quite good with them! What’s the problem then?” they ask. But does someone have to hate children in order to not want to give birth to them? You can be exceptionally good with kids and still not want any of your own. However, it’s always hard not to notice the look ...

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What independence are we celebrating?

Some 71 years ago, people from all over subcontinent left their homes and took roads laced with perils to reach the ‘land of pure’. What made them leave their lives behind to move to an unknown land where all that awaited them was a promise? No tangible shelter but only a promise; the promise of freedom. What is meant by this ‘freedom’ that caused the greatest migration of the century? Freedom or independence means the availability of the opportunity to exercise one’s rights, powers, desires and even faith. Yes, I put emphasis on faith because any country where any ...

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5 stories that prove the trauma of Partition did not end in 1947

As I think of the Partition that happened 71 years ago, it feels like a memory. Though I do not possess any personal narrative of it, yet it feels like I do have one – so personal that it invokes emotions. This owes to the Partition of 1947 being a national memory in both India and Pakistan to this day. A memory that, as Pakistani historian Ayesha Jalal notes, “continues to influence how the peoples and states of postcolonial South Asia envisage their past, present and future”. Despite this eminence, it feels like there is a dearth of narratives; stories that ...

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Why Pakistani men need to learn the art of ‘keeping it in their pants’

I came across a Facebook post recently which made me question the way this society thinks and functions, and raises multiple red flags about the way we live. A man in Lahore can masturbate openly in the streets while looking at a school bus full of teenage girls, and there is no mention of it anywhere. However, when a Facebook post in response to it tries to highlight the problem at hand, the fragile male egos of Pakistani men are immediately threatened. FLASHING, SEXUAL HARASSMENT incident: Today a friend in lahore was in her university van. The van had stopped ...

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Dear thin people, I think we need to have a talk

I am five-foot-four, 125 pounds. My measurements are 36-28-38. I wear size medium shirts, size seven jeans, and (in case you were wondering) size eight shoes. I have never walked into a clothing store unable to find items in my size. I have never been asked to pay more for a seat on an airplane. I have never had someone dismiss me as a dating prospect based on my body type, nor had someone scoff, openly, while watching me eat french fries in public. I have never experienced a doctor dismissing my concerns with a “lose weight, feel great” remedy. And I can open an article with my ...

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Should the Wheaton College Professor have been suspended for wearing a hijab?

Whether in Islamic theocracies or places with visible minority Muslim populations, from China to the United Kingdom, the hijab twists conservatives and liberals in their support or opposition to dress normally associated with fundamental religion. We see bullies “rip off” hijabs; one such incident recently took place in New York City. On the other extreme, groups like the Taliban declare, “wear hijab or be disfigured.” And they carry out such threats. Nushin Arbabzadah summed up this contrast in The New York Times: “Women may want to express ‘solidarity’ with Muslim women by covering up. But Muslim women don’t need to cover up. This act ...

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Change begins at home: Stop blaming France for the Burkini ban

When I lived in Saudi Arabia, religious policing of women’s bodies was the norm. I remember a time when my mother and I were casually strolling down Suwaiket street – one of the most busiest and populated areas in downtown Al-Khobar – when we suddenly witnessed the religious police, most commonly referred to as ‘mutawa’ (or mutaween for plural) approach a young woman, and angrily demanded that she cover up, as she wore the abaya (full Islamic body covering), with the scarf resting loosely around her shoulders, her face and hair bare. When the woman, who was too shocked to speak or didn’t comply right away, ...

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I was never his wife, I was only his slave

“I maybe from a  third world country but I have a heart like you do, emotions like you have, and dreams to pursue. On my first Eid as a married girl, I wanted to dress up and celebrate my new beginning instead of being in a hospital bed recovering from the effects of abuse.” I got married in March 2014 in Chicago with dreams of starting a new life and a future built out on love and trust in my new home. My parents were so assured that they were giving me into the hands of an educated guy; someone who ...

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I do not think my female friends should come back to Pakistan

“It is hard being back. It’s like every decision I make is not my own. I cannot even walk on the streets or go out late without my mom worrying. And do not even get me started on the questions I face about my marriage plans.” These words from my friend, who recently returned from her graduate degree in the UK, have become a recurring theme in my conversations with all my female friends going back home to Pakistan after living abroad. I currently happen to live in New York, with quite a few graduate students from Pakistan. And I do not want ...

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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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