Stories about sexual harassment

Why I choose not to speak up and say #MeToo

Social media is surreal most of the time; however, this past week has seemed more unreal than usual. My timeline on every social media platform has been flooded, or dare I say bombarded, with #MeToo status updates, tweets and posts. The hashtag went viral after American actress Alyssa Milano tweeted it to encourage more women to come forward with their experiences with sexual harassment, in response to the Harvey Weinstein scandal that shook Hollywood. If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet. pic.twitter.com/k2oeCiUf9n — Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) October 15, 2017 My feelings on this hashtag, which ...

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Does going to a psychologist mean that one is “crazy” or “weak”?

Whenever I tell someone I am a psychologist, I usually get one of two responses: “Can you tell what I’m thinking right now?” “You must be pretty crazy to deal with so many crazies!” I recently went to get my driving license renewed, and when I was called in for a medical evaluation, the assistant asked me for some personal information, including my profession. When I told him I am a psychologist, he suddenly paused and asked, “Kya main aapko pagal lagta hoon? Mere dost mujhe pagal kehte hain.” (Do I look crazy to you? My friends call me crazy.) This was an amusing, but not ...

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He flashed his private parts at her and told her that raping her would please him – no big deal, right?

The other day, I was randomly scrolling through Facebook when I came across a long post by girl who had been harassed on her way to work by a guy on a bike who flashed his private parts at her. So common, right? Let us just keep scrolling, my brain hinted. There was a video attached to the post as well, and it automatically began playing before I could scroll past it. As I watched the video, I realised that the car looked oddly familiar, and then I realised that the girl was in fact my own sister. I ...

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By dressing as a man to make a statement, Ayesha Gulalai has only belittled countless dynamic women of Pakistan

No one said it was easy being a Pakistani woman. We fight misogyny, chauvinism and harassment on a daily basis in our schools, workplaces and for some, even homes. We are daughters, sisters and mothers but those relationships are not unto themselves. We populate the corporate world, lead movements, teach impressionable minds and raise little people. There is very little women cannot achieve and that forms our identities. It is a small mind then, in my opinion, which tries to fight misogyny by fitting into a box shaped like a man. A mind that has no business representing the multi-faceted and peerless entities that ...

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If it’s unfair to believe an allegation, it is also unfair to doubt Ayesha Gulalai and call her names

A few months ago, I wrote an article where I pointed out that both the Pakistan Muslim League–Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) were promoting a misogynist culture. In the said article, I criticised PML-N leaders like Khawaja Asif and Javed Latif for spewing filthy language against women in rival political parties. I further argued that PTI was also indulging in the same practice as an overwhelming number of its supporters have repeatedly abused prominent women politicians and also public figures. I cited examples of Malala Yousafzai, Asma Jahangir, Reham Khan and Maryam Nawaz. I also wrote about how Dr Shireen ...

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Instead of trying to earn cheap gains, Careem should focus on what powered their core business – safety

There is no place in the world where women can feel as safe or have the same privileges as men. But it is especially hard in Pakistan where discrimination is an endemic, thanks to the entitled mind-set of the typical Pakistani male. Abuse ranges from violence to sexual harassment, or worse, and no classes, locations or environments are completely safe from this. Some time ago, after someone close to me faced repeated harassment at the workplace through texts and emails, which included hundreds of threats of sexual violence, I was inspired to write an article investigating how deep the problem is in Pakistani work culture. The results were shocking. You’d ...

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The shared experience of being tampered with as a child

Jack* did not have much of a childhood to write home about. That obviously did not hinder his meteoric rise, because as a young professional, he was already on top of his game. He was quite successful, with a six digit salary, vacations pre-planned for a year in advance, and stocks and bonds neatly sorted out. While he could hold onto investments with alacrity, what he couldn’t hold on to, for dear life, were relationships. Friends, men or women, would come and go from his life, with surprising frequency. To him, even his biological family, the little he had, felt like it was on borrowed time. I think the lack ...

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While a new day yields a new molester, our girls are still told it’s their fault

“It was my first day at work. I covered my head like a good Muslim, didn’t speak to the opposite gender unnecessarily, still somehow by the time I returned home, I had a few extremely vulgar text messages from unidentified numbers on my mobile. It shocked me because only a few family members had my new mobile number and I was 100% certain that it wasn’t a coincidence to receive such messages on my first day at work. I was frightened at the thought of someone at this new workplace having such a perception of me. That someone must have assumed I am ...

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Dear Saudi, their only crime was being born transgender, and that’s not a crime at all

Amna, a 35-year-old from the Mingora part of Swat and 26-year-old Meeno from Peshawar were killed in Saudi Arabia this week in police custody. The death of any prisoner at the hands of law enforcement is already disturbing as it is, but these two were allegedly tortured to death. Alongside 33 others, they were arrested, placed inside sacks, and beaten, and beaten, and then beaten some more until the two succumbed to their injuries. Imagine being helpless, alone, inside a dark claustrophobic sack, and struck on the body and head with canes and kicks until dying painfully. There is very ...

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Why I think the PTV anchors were right to go public with their accusations

Currently, the issue of workplace sexual harassment seems to be in the national spotlight due to an on-going investigation at Pakistan Television (PTV). According to the available details, two prominent anchors had accused PTV’s current affairs director for sexual harassment. In response, the channel had initiated an inquiry to look into the matter. However, during the investigation, the two anchors decided to use other media platforms (electronic and social) to spread awareness of their case, which resulted in the PTV management imposing a ban on the involved anchors. The PTV management was of the opinion that the anchors were issuing ...

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