Stories about rape in Pakistan

The rape story we are all living inside of

It’s not science fiction and it’s not the nation’s growth story. It’s the rape story we are all living inside of. In this rape story, your female/male/trans body is owned broadly by the state but specifically and practically by your father, and next to him, your elder brothers, and next to them, your uncles and your younger brothers. They decide who to hand over your body to. This new person now has rights to access your body, its seed and its fruit. Sometimes money exchanges are involved in this story. The new owner of a female body takes money in addition to control ...

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Can a 12-year-old consent to rape?

A young child, no older than 12, lies unconscious in the hospital. She has been picked up by her family from her employer’s place of residence and taken to the hospital after repeated episodes of the child falling in and out of consciousness. The doctor’s diagnosis? The child, a 12-year-old girl, has been sexually assaulted. As I sat with my friend scrolling through my phone reading the news story, I sighed running my hand through my hair. When she asked what the matter was, I showed her the story, letting her read it rather than me telling her. She shook her head and said that ...

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Justice Hani: A goodbye to the harbinger of justice

In the year 2007, a 10-year-old boy sat within the stuffy walls of the Hyderabad prison, charged with his father’s murder. One can only imagine his frame of mind as he spent his days therein, surrounded by offenders averaging three times his age and boasting allegedly dark pasts. Little did he know that a surprise visit to the prisons was to shortly change his destiny. Alarmed at the little boy’s presence in what should have been a cell confined to male adults, Justice Amir Hani Muslim immediately ordered for the child’s transfer to the women’s prison alongside his mother, a ...

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An open letter to Zara and Zoya Khan

More than 80% of women in Pakistan face sexual harassment on a daily basis. Harassment has become one of the most common issues of our society today. In most cases, the perpetrator takes advantage of the victim’s vulnerability and helplessness. Because women are taught to keep such incidents private, the fact that women will seldom come out to raise their voices against injustice, strengthens the perpetrators’ determination to touch whoever they like.  I applaud you, Zara and Zoya Khan, for standing up to the atrocious and sexually deprived man, who, like many others, assumed he had the right to touch you without your consent; ...

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Hina Shahnawaz was powerful and financially independent, so patriarchy killed her

News of honour killings, or karo-kari, is not new to Pakistan. Almost a thousand women are killed in Pakistan every year for allegedly bringing “shame” to their families. In a society that feeds off hyper masculinity, a woman’s autonomy and independence of any sort is seen as a threat to the Pakistani culture as a whole. Last year, a renowned social media celebrity, Qandeel Baloch, was murdered by her brother in the name of honour, because of her financial and social independence gained from practicing what she preached – self-love and personal power. Although honour killings were (and still are) very common, this incident in particular is what led the government ...

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Set aside that male privilege and stand up for your women, Pakistan

Being a Pakistani man myself, I would like to think that most Pakistani men are as appalled at instances of sexual violence as I am. I would like to think that most Pakistani men would not engage in sexual violence. I would like to think that there is a small minority of sexual predators who commit these terrible acts. However, the truth may be a lot more horrifying than my mistaken beliefs. I am not going to limit this to sexual harassment as I do feel a lot of people do commit sexual harassment without even realising they are ...

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Naila Rind: Locking women up will not help secure them from sexual harassment, Pakistan

We cannot, as a nation, claim progress till our women feel safe everywhere at any time. The life of a woman in a man’s world was never easy, but nothing can be worse than not doing anything to change that. No matter how many steps we manage to take forward, we have just as many people pushing us back. By writing this, I wish to bring to the reader’s attention the way we are handling the Naila Rind case – a student of the University of Sindh, Jamshoro, who committed suicide after being constantly blackmailed and harassed. Our country does not have harassment policies ...

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Is the jirga system truly just?

A report was published in The Washington Post on December 17, 2016, titled, “In Pakistan, five girls were killed for having fun. Then the story took an even darker twist”. It covered the investigation of an incident that took place in Kohistan in 2012, where five girls were murdered ruthlessly for singing and dancing at a wedding on the commandment of a jirga. The report divulged the abominable treatment and egregious injustices women are subjected to at the hands of influential jirgas. It further explained how this council of leaders conceals their wrongdoings by intimidating uneducated people and manipulating evidence. The jirgas are so powerful that ...

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A letter to my abuser: You took advantage of me and made me believe it was my fault

Hi, I hope this letter finds you in good health. I know I’ve been avoiding you for quite some time now. Even when we’re at the same place at the same time, I act like I don’t know you’re there. But isn’t that funny? How I’ll always greet you sincerely, but try my best to avoid you for as long as possible? I can’t look into your eyes. I’m sure you’ve noticed. Why? Because I remember everything. I remember how aggressively you asked me to look straight into your eyes as your hand went inside my shirt. I stood there, unable to move, ...

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Your husband beat you up? No worries, now you can cover it up with makeup

A Moroccan TV show recently taught women how to cover up bruises they got as a result of domestic violence. After a lot of hue and cry, the video was removed but it still sparked outrage on social media, and Moroccan rights groups were extremely vocal about insisting that the show be cancelled completely. But let’s take a step back, shall we. Let’s go back to the moment the producer and the team of that show actually decided that this feather-brained idea would be a great seller. Let’s go back to the moment where everyone said, “Hey, you know what would be fantastic? If ...

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