Stories about patriarchal society

Sex Aur Samaaj: Because a dialogue is important

Sex: that taboo word. Not only is it deemed sinful to discuss openly in more conservative societies, it is also about our own reflection and a repressed understanding of it. There is a compelling need to talk about sexuality as a normalised topic but due to rigid moral codes defined by religion or culture, an objective debate on this issue is not socially possible. In fact, there is an artificial silence about it because it is perceived as something dirty and sinful; a discourse to be refrained from unless one is legally recognised as a married person. Sex, indeed, is an ...

Read Full Post

Is child sexual assault or rape, in this day and age, still excusable?

Right across the Turkish capital, Istanbul, countless people are huddled together clutching boards and posters in a form of protest. Turkey has been struggling with a number of political problems and most of them are associated with the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) in neighbouring war-torn Syria. But this time, unlike the others, this problem doesn’t have anything to do with ISIS but is triggered by troubling issues inside the country. A new Turkish bill has been proposed which pardons men from crime and punishment if they marry the victim they raped. Thousands of women were outraged. Human rights groups were ...

Read Full Post

Sorry Bilawal, Pakistan’s misogyny will always confuse sensitivity with femininity

“Aur tu aur Billo Rani bheebol rahi hai. Asif Zardari sahib, itna haram kamaia aap ne, thora sa Bilawal per lagain aur us ka technical masla theek karain.” (Now even Billo Rani is speaking. Asif Zardari, please devote some of your illegal wealth towards rectifying Bilawal’s technical problem). “Mein ne siyasat mein naheen aana, kyon ke Sheikh Rashid mujhe har roz gandy gandy messages karta hai.” (I don’t want to come into politics because Sheikh Rashid sends me dirty texts every day. The first of the above is an excerpt from Sheikh Rasheed’s speech in 2014, and the latter is one of the Facebook memes I ...

Read Full Post

The reactions to Qandeel’s death reveal no understanding of feminism in Pakistan

They call her a prostitute, a sex object, a joke and other degrading insults in an attempt to discredit her. They assume that because they deem her to be all of the above, she cannot at the same time be empowering women and/or herself. A fatal flaw is, thus, exposed in their argument in that she is struck down for what women (and men) across the world celebrate her for: her courage, tenacity and fire to be whoever she chose to be in a society that (literally) stifles freedom—especially freedom of expression. As I reflect upon this week, many voices ...

Read Full Post

When honour lies in what happens between the legs of women

Qandeel Baloch is dead. Seems like the woman had earned the ire of way too many men. In Pakistan, the ire of one man is enough to claim your life or at least ruin your face forever with a splash of some acid. First, it was Maulana Abdul Qavi, followed by her husband’s revelations. Finally, her brother came for her life. One woman against three mighty vicegerents of God? Boy, she needed to be put back in her skin and reminded of her auqaat (place) as a woman. Let’s fragment her experiences with the mentioned three men. Qavi The then Ruet-e-Hilal Committee member got embroiled ...

Read Full Post

Balochistan is far from “uncivilised” and these women prove just that!

That Pakistan has a youth bulge is well known to most informed readers, but what the youth thinks about the myriad challenges faced by the country rarely gets space in the media, especially when it comes to females from minority communities. The First International Conference on Social Sciences recently held at Sardar Bahadur Khan Womens’ University in Quetta, Balochistan, provided me with an opportunity to learn just that. SBK Womens’ University caters to around 6000 female students from all parts of Balochistan and offers up to MPhil and PhD degrees. In 2013, the university was attacked in a suicide bombing that ...

Read Full Post

How to break a girl in 10 steps

Follow these 10 steps and watch a girl shrivel in front of your eyes until she becomes a walking womb that also makes your meals. 1) Make her realise she is a burden from the moment she is born. Sigh loudly when births of girls are announced. When they are a little older, let them see how you celebrate when boys are born and how the grandmother’s face contorts if the family is burdened with another baby girl instead. Make it absolutely clear that they are no cause for celebration. 2) Be very blatant in your favouring of boys over girls. Ask ...

Read Full Post

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 ...

Read Full Post

Was I objectified and humiliated because I am a woman?

To be honest, I had no plans of writing this blog post, till some well-intentioned friends noticed my passive-aggressive rant on Facebook a few days back and nudged me to let it all out. Indeed, I owe it to their encouragement and to my own sanity. Not to mention, the borderline harassment incident that makes me want to smash pumpkins for Halloween. Just for starters. It all began when I was stopped by security guards at the gate of the Parliament House, asking me to prove my identity. As if flashing my press and senate cards was not enough, I had to verbally ...

Read Full Post

The responsibility of being a famous celebrity in Pakistan

Saif Ali Khan’s Phantom (2015) was a sad excuse for a movie, much like Shaan Shahid’s Musalman (2001). Movies that play on the very jingoistic sentiment, which have led us into various wars and thousands of casualties, do nothing but betray their audiences who otherwise wish and need peace in the region. Pakistan was right to ban the film as a sign of protest. I would expect the same from India but India being a much older democracy has been far more disappointing. Not only did it ban non-political movies and dramas from Pakistan, but our artists like Shakeel Siddiqui and singers ...

Read Full Post