Stories about pakistani society

Why I ditched my chador

When I was in my teens, some 20 years ago, my parents would tell me to wear a chador (a large piece of cloth that is wrapped around the head and upper body) and cover myself every time I would go out of the house. I lived in a small city and my father was widely known. Each time I stepped out of my house, I would cover myself from head to toe, sometimes even the face if I was with my father, as he didn’t want people gazing at his daughter. I understood at the time that this was essential for ...

Read Full Post

Two years in Pakistan made me reconsider my values on parenting

A few years ago, a friend of mine sent me Khalil Gibran’s poem, On Children. Upon reading it, I remember my first thought being, ‘this guy probably didn’t have children of his own’. I was appalled at the things he suggested in his poem. Gibran wrote: “Your children are not your children, They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself, They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.” I got married at the age of 23, and exactly nine months later, I became the mother of a daughter who is ...

Read Full Post

#MeToo, #JahezKhoriBandKaro, #NotFunny: Lifting the curtain of sexism in Pakistan

Hashtags make a difference, and for campaigns regarding the rights of women, the last one year has seen some important hashtags that made us sit up straight. The most recent one is #NotFunny, an awareness campaign launched on National Women’s Day by the Uks Research Centre, pointing out aptly that enough is enough – that jokes that demean women, perpetuate stereotypes about women and degrade women, are just not funny. Yes Absolutely #NotFunny#shehzadRoy 🖒 pic.twitter.com/JU68kqaxQa — S☆S 🇵🇰🇹🇷 (@jiyyah_shaah) February 25, 2019 For those who consider themselves more ‘evolved’ or ‘aware’, the litmus test can be something as seemingly small as the jokes men ...

Read Full Post

Rescuing the dying reading culture of Pakistan

Pakistani classrooms usually do not encourage questioning amongst students, but can we really blame the classroom for a trait we are socialised into from the beginning? Thus, when I became a teacher, I made sure to always encourage questioning by responding in a positive manner, turning whatever was being formally discussed into a casual conversation. Recently, however, I was asked a question that left me astonished. An undergraduate student in one of my classes, a rather intelligent kid, asked me why reading books was so important. In his words: “We live in a visual world, then why do you keep emphasising reading ...

Read Full Post

#TherapistDiaries: Anxiety, depression and suicide – the realities of forced marriages

She was barely 19 at the time. She sat on a silver throne decorated with floral arrangements with a posture similar to that of a sacrificial being. My emotions in this moment were as artificial as the floral arrangements. I looked over at the 50-year-old man sitting beside her, and could no longer pretend to be happy. Because that’s when it registered – she was getting married to this man. All of a sudden, my conversations with this girl, with whom I had played games throughout my childhood, came rushing to my mind. I also recalled what she had told me just a ...

Read Full Post

Surviving R Kelly in the #MeToo era: Because one victim’s voice is not enough for justice

Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and now R Kelly. Like countless other men, these men were accused and guilty of sexual abuse and assault against women. Here is the situation that continues to baffle many people including myself: when a woman claims she was sexually abused or assaulted, the man in question always tends to deny it. Why does our society and justice system always defend the man? Despite living in a time and society where we want to empower women, why are they not being listened to in the first place? Believe it or not, there are enough people out there who ...

Read Full Post

To squat or not to squat?

I was one-year-old when my family moved from Pakistan to Botswana. Located in Southern Africa, Botswana is about the size of France, with an astonishingly low population of two-and-a-half-million people. We spent most of our time abroad but would often visit home, and at least once a year we visited Karachi, where I was born. Although it had been a few years since my last visit to Karachi, this is a city that always pulls on my heartstrings, and after spending only a week in the city of dreams, I found myself used to the cultural oddities, such as ...

Read Full Post

Allahyar and the Legend of Markhor is not only of unprecedented quality but also a game changer for Pakistan

Over a decade ago, when Commander Safeguard hit TV channels all across Pakistan, it set a new standard when it came to the local animation industry. Later on, 3 Bahadur, Pakistan’s first animated movie, brought some hope that animation is not an entirely forgotten art in the country. Even the Milkateer series was a decent addition to the genre. However, Allahyar and the Legend of Markhor has changed the game altogether, by setting a new standard when it comes to animation in Pakistan. Uzair Zaheer Khan, the director and writer, and producer Usman Iqbal have brought to the industry a ...

Read Full Post

Victim-blaming, slut-shaming, parent-blaming, inappropriate memes – is this your way to demand #JusticeForZainab, Pakistan?

A tragedy has paralysed the nation once again, this time in the form of Zainab, yet another innocent child that we lost too soon. Emotions are high, and rightly so, as people demand #JusticeForZainab, and ask the government and the law authorities to ensure accountability, and for once do their job and deliver justice to the family and to the rest of the nation. Hopelessness and despair prevail at the moment, along with a certain sense of despondency at the state of the country we live in, especially in light of how we continuously fail to protect our greatest asset – ...

Read Full Post

Yes, Mashal Khan’s story is a difficult watch, but it’s a necessary watch to keep us from forgetting

In April, a deranged mob of college students murdered Mashal Khan, an intelligent, curious, and outspoken journalism student, over views and comments that some regarded as ‘blasphemous’. The mob-led murder caught the world’s attention after a shakily recorded cell phone video of the lynching went viral. Just like that, the door had been flung open, exposing the sheer inhumanity and intellectual neglect that constantly simmers below the surface of Pakistani society, even within its supposedly enlightened institutions. In these past few months, many minutes of prime-time were devoted to and much ink was spilled over Mashal and Pakistan’s notoriously inhumane and antiquated blasphemy laws. This week, the story ...

Read Full Post