Stories about sexual harassment

Can a woman only choose one – hijab or a successful career?

Not too long ago, the hijab was considered a choice; a woman’s right if she wanted it to be. Today, not only is it a source of contention and a consistently hot topic of debate, it is considered a form of subjugation. In all honesty, I cannot comprehend how or why the hijab seems like such a hindrance, especially when only some women wear it in our country. Whether these hijab arguments stem from abhorrence, fear or just narrow-mindedness, I do not know. What I do know is that we argue about it behind a very subjective definition of ‘liberalism’. These ‘liberals’ ...

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Tehelka controversy: Can powerful editors get away with sexual harassment?

For more than a decade now, Tehelka magazine has been respected by the media fraternity for its fearless coverage of illegal defence deals, land rights issues, gender equality and communalism. Then, what happened two weeks ago in an elevator of the Grand Hyatt, Goa that not only shattered the reputation of the magazine, but blacklisted it for a long time to come? Tarun Tejpal, the patron of Tehelka, is said to have sexually assaulted a female colleague during the annual THiNK fest that Tehelka organises every November. He sent an email yesterday afternoon to the Managing Editor of the magazine, Shoma Chaudhury saying that he has ‘recused’ ...

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When ragging in hostels turns to sexual abuse

We reached the university hostel. My parents very were happy because I had been admitted in one of the top notch universities of Pakistan located in Punjab. It was the first time in my life that I was going to stay away from my home and I was petrified.  I was accommodated with my seniors as there were no rooms available for freshmen. The first night, I could not sleep at all because the place was filthy and I couldn’t come to terms with the fact that I had to stay there for a long, long time. The days that followed were ...

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PTI, ensure the safety of women if you want our support

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) under the chairmanship of Imran Khan held a massive rally at the historic Minar-i-Pakistan ground on Saturday, March 23, 2013. While the gathering was immense and the jalsa proved to be a great ‘political success’, it left behind a trail of horror for some female participants. For them, things were not as pleasant as the telly reported. The media showed only half of the picture — a huge crowd garnished flags and banners, colourful environment and cheerful painted faces. Nobody cared to report the problems faced by some women at the jalsa, especially when it began to rain and the rally was nearing its ...

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Lighting candles for the Delhi gang rape changes nothing

I’ve been following, yet intentionally trying to ignore this entire circus surrounding me. People have been demanding  justice, in terms of the death penalty, for those six rapists’ for weeks now. Close friends, relatives, acquaintances have been debating, protesting, discussing, showing anger blah dee blah. Amidst all of this, I fail to understand a few very simple things. Have we been completely blind to the endless rape and assault cases that are reported in the paper every single day for decades? Are we oblivious to the slave-like state of Indian women outside the 1% city girls? How does the torture of one girl become ...

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How technology in Pakistan should be used safely

The public-private debate in Pakistan is a hard creature to get a handle on. Being a Pakistani male, when I was approached by Take Back the Tech — a Bytes for All Pakistan initiative locally — to develop a set of comic strips for their campaign focused on how concepts of public and private affect ICTs and violence against women, I was initially stumped.  I was told the debate was a wide one, including right to privacy, lines between private and public in online spaces, state surveillance, sexting and more. I wanted to focus on this with an emphasis on technology, media (especially the online space) ...

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Sexual harassment: Stop whining and do something about it!

“Where are you, ‘baby’? I am waiting.” No, this is not an SMS from someone’s fiancé, husband or boyfriend. This was sent by a colleague to another colleague of mine. After a few minutes of disbelief, she was engulfed by anger and replied, “Are you in your senses? What kind of an SMS is that?” To her utter astonishment his reply was: “Err.. Is mein kia tha?” (What was wrong in that SMS?) The reply indicated how casually men take their behaviour towards the fairer sex. No, I do not want to re-emphasise here how often we have to face difficult workplace situations. No, I ...

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Teacher, don’t stand so close to me

We’ve all done it when we were awkward and fourteen. The teacher was probably not even young or good looking.  But we did it for approval, for love, for a better grade, to be admired.  A student of mine alerted me to an interested phenomenon recently. There was this girl who was most sober in my class, did her work, took copious notes, wrote at college level, her glasses high on her nose, she looked like she had just stepped out of Hajj.   My student told me in reference to her: “You should see her in the Eco teacher’s class. ...

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