Stories about sexual abuse

You are willing to ban Udaari, but are you willing to jail the man who molested me?

It was a paralysing scene; a moment where lust, hunger and greed, all were entwined. It was when Imtiaz held Zebo’s little hands – a gesture which was seemingly innocent and affectionate, but paradoxically brought to light his malicious intent. His lingering gaze on the child, and his words with sexual undertones immediately replaced the gentle loving father with a man falling prey to his own animalistic traits. This was all PEMRA could take, and me too. Our reasons, of course, were different; for PEMRA it was truth-overdose. For me, it brought back memories. My eyes were transfixed on the screen, but ...

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It’s about time we talk about suicide

A few months ago, I received a frantic phone call from a friend. He told me his 11-year-old son tried to hang himself. This was not the first time; he had made similar attempts in the past, and also had a history of harming himself. Luckily, the parents had intervened just in time and saved him before it was too late. The father consulted me over the phone – he was broken, and was desperately in search of an answer. He wanted to devise a plan of action that could save his child from further attempts. After many possible interventions, we drafted ...

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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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Revisiting Islamabad’s Hotspot: The obvious sexism that no one notices

Hotspot – the place where all the brats and burgers of Islamabad ‘hang out’ Don’t get me wrong. I’m not here to bash these brats and burgers. Half of my friends come under this category and I love them. I’m not here to criticise Hotspot ice cream or food either. Their food is actually not bad. In fact, I’m not here to talk about any issue of importance. I’m here to talk about something insignificant. Something no one cares about because they don’t believe it is a problem. Something all these brats and burgers just accept and, consequently, condone. Something that these ...

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“Baaji, you never wear a dupatta. Does that mean you are also asking for it?”

It was a despairing day for humanity on Sunday when yet another report of a horrendous rape broke out of South Asia. A 14-year-old Indian girl bravely took to television to share her story. She had been gang raped by three men for two weeks in a dark room before being pitilessly shot after she had been told she was being let go. Speaking of her ordeal to the NDTV news network, the teenager said that the three attackers took turns to rape her over a two-week period. “After a fortnight of repeated abuse, one night they said they will let me go. ...

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Are we purposely ignoring child sexual abuse in Pakistan (and our homes)?

The Pakistani media’s convincing rhetoric regarding the term sexual abuse and heart wrenching words such as ‘rape’ and ‘molestation’ have rightly highlighted the unjust practices that continue to affect our society. However, at times (or always) the hidden truth remains buried in the ground and the untold stories of millions are seldom brought to light. How many of you had the slightest idea that your helpless seven-year-old son, who wholeheartedly recited the Holy Quran alongside his so-called honest and unadulterated qaari sahib, was being sexually abused continuously in a barricaded room? We enjoy labelling ourselves as humble and modest beings when in truth we are the ...

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When did rape threats become a necessary technique for extracting confessions?

Early morning, Wednesday, October 28, 2015, will be forever etched on my mind and conscience as the day when my reserves of patience and equanimity were exhausted and emptied. My friend, the human rights activist, Rashid Orakzai uploaded and shared on Facebook a singularly brutal abuse of  force by a functionary of the so-called law-enforcing authorities of Pakistan. One could see a man in a Pakistani police uniform hitting a hapless burqa-clad woman, 30 to 35-years-old, on her head and face a number of times, hurling abuses and taunts of unprecedented obscenity. A young lad, perhaps eight or 10-years-old, can be seen ...

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Pakistan has laws against rape and adultery, but what about incest?

Writing about the sexual abuse of a little girl is hard. Writing about the little girl’s incestuous relationship resulting in years of rape at the hands of her father is harder. In all the history of humankind, all societies have considered incest abhorrent, shameful and worthy of criminal sanction. But skirting around the uncomfortable topic of incest comes hand-in-hand with its social sanction. And in no place is incest slipped under the proverbial rug so eagerly as it is in the shame and honour based culture of Pakistan. This is because in a shame and honour based culture, the shameful action of one ...

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More power to the women and less to the dupatta

Recently, I came across an article that seemed to propagate the indispensable role of ‘dupattas’ in our ‘cultural dress code’. I was amused by the fact that the article, which stressed on preserving Pakistani culture, began with an Indian song featured in the movie Barsaat, which was released in 1949. If I’m not mistaken, it was sung by the famous Lata Mangeshkar. So much for celebrating our own culture. What was most appalling about the article was the fact that it was propagating the idea that men stare, ogle, and gawk at women because they do not cover themselves up with dupattas. It quoted ...

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Self-immolated rape victims and the inflammable Punjab police

Recently, I came across an incident that saddened me deeply. It was about a woman, Sonia Bibi, who was raped by three men and set herself ablaze in front of a police station in the Saddar area of Muzaffargarh due to the slacking attitude of the police. The incident is not the first of its kind. Another man, namely Shahbaz, died of self-immolation, after the police failed to take action on his application against a tax official. Similar tragedies have taken place over the course of time. Last year, a woman from Dera Gazi Khan set herself on fire as a protest against the ...

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