Stories about rights

Seventy-eight rupees

It was my neighbour who suggested I should go to them. She said it was my last hope. “Where are we going Amma?” my six-year-old asked me over the sound of the rickshaw. “Just someplace,” I said dismissively. What was I to tell her? That we were going to a place that was my ‘last hope’. It was her last hope too. The rickshaw driver stopped in front of an old, small building in the midst of noisy Saddar. With a heavy heart, I paid him Rs200, what we had agreed on. How would we go back? Maybe the NGO people could lend us money. When we walked inside ...

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There is no difference between Christmas and Eid

Tis’ the season to be jolly! December always comes with great tidings; winter chills, hot chocolate, numerous holidays and an opportunity to make new resolutions. And along all this, it also brings the joyful day of Christmas. This day is an embodiment of religious beliefs, which celebrates a miraculous event and a time of togetherness. Two billion Christians all over the world celebrate this day with great spirit and felicity. As a child, the idea of Christmas for me was all about decorating Christmas trees, receiving presents and Santa stuffing himself down a chimney. I used to be most excited about meeting Santa ...

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Reinstate the moratorium on the death penalty!

As a legal and human rights defenders’ community, we should condemn the Peshawar attack and express solidarity with the victims. However, lifting the moratorium and executing prisoners on death row will not eliminate the threat of terrorism and militancy or make us safer. It will be another step towards eradicating the constitutional rights of ordinary citizens.  Shafqat Hussain’s case has nothing to do with terrorism and seems more like a public relations gesture to appease public outrage at the heinous and barbaric attack of December 16th. As Reprieve points out, Hussain is of poor background, and was 14-years-old at the time of the offence. ...

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Let your children be Emma Watson, let them be Malala

I recently watched the impassioned speech that Emma Watson made for launching the UN’s ‘HeForShe’ campaign. It was a sincere appeal for a better understanding of the ‘feminist’ movement and its singular goal to establish equal rights and freedoms for both men and women. Now, in total honesty, I have grown up with a very different interpretation of what ‘feminism’ is! In fact, while I have always been taught by my family and have believed in equal rights for boys and girls, I have not really associated this with the ‘feminist movement.’ Maybe it is the word itself…why was it ever called a ‘feminist’ ...

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Can’t a woman ask for her property share?

A few days ago, I was at a get together with friends and the usual small talk somehow turned to the ‘controversial’ topic of women and their property rights. One of them dramatically sighed and told her sympathisers how her ‘atrocious’ sister-in-law had the audacity to ask for her share of the family’s property. That opened up a Pandora’s Box as she was joined in by the other women who started sharing anecdotes of girls who had the audacity to ask for their share of their family’s property. I did not, and could not, understand what was so reprehensible about a ...

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No Israel, you cannot use rape as a war weapon

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has brought out what seems to be the misogynist, the racist and the overall hate in everyone. There are people who have asked Hitler to return and then there are people like Bill Maher who recently called Gaza ‘a crazy woman’. Then there is the Israeli professor who says the best way to fight wars is to rape women. How I wish that was a line from The Onion. How I wish it was a politically incorrect joke made by Will Ferrell on Saturday Night Live. Or something some crazy extremist had said somewhere where they were still flogging women in the streets. Unfortunately for ...

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Are you a Facebook lab rat?

If Facebook were a country, it would be the third largest in the world, leaving behind China’s 1.34 billion people and India’s population of 1.2 billion. Their user base has increased from 1 million in 2004 to 1.23 billion today. In 2012, Facebook tampered and manipulated the newsfeed of about 700,000 of its users for one week. It placed posts into user news feeds to study how this affected their mood, removing either all of the positive posts or all of the negative ones. Scientists working for the social network conducted this study for a week in January 2012 to see if interfering with posts the users ...

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Pakistanis, the ‘ustad’ mechanic isn’t always right!

We, as a nation, have one trait that dominates our behaviour in almost every walk of life and that is to follow the crowd. We’d rather do what everyone else is doing instead of using our common sense, even if the majority is wrong. In local terms, we call this trait bhair chaal (follow the crowd). Unfortunately, we do the same when it comes to dealing with cars. Our decisions are almost always hijacked by the opinions of other people; people who have little or no information about cars and yet, they do not refrain from commenting on what they don’t know. And ...

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5 movies every (wo)man should watch this Women’s Day

Despite the many differences between the East and the West, one dilemma is shared all over and that is the emancipation of women. Irrespective of social status, age, ethnicity or time period, women have faced oppression and have been forced to ‘compromise’ their basic rights. Today, the world celebrates womanhood. Every woman is made to realise that she is more than just someone’s daughter, mother or wife. Today is a day of celebration for both men and women – a day when you feel proud about being a woman or knowing one. Art has always had a way of recounting history in a ...

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You can’t care about animal rights on an empty stomach

Rehmu was on his last tour of the day, carrying bricks from one point to another on his donkey cart. He needed to do at least five such tours a day in order to earn enough for a sufficient meal for him and his family. But today he could only do four and he knew that it would not be enough for his family. He was thinking that either he or his wife would have to pretend not to be hungry that night. He had known since that morning that he would not have enough work today. His mind had ...

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