Stories about society

Will the victims of the Balochistan University scandal get justice?

A month ago, the Balochistan High Court directed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to look into the sexual harassment reports which had emerged from Balochistan University. According to FIA findings, both female and male students “were being blackmailed by some staff members through ‘objectionable’ videos of them, recorded through CCTV cameras hidden at various places on the campus including its washrooms.” These reports are bound to have repercussions not just for the educational institution under question but also on women’s education in Pakistan as a whole. Whether or not those responsible for blackmailing, harassment and an evident breach of privacy will be ...

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Will she ever learn?

Her heels clicked as she briskly walked on the cemented sidewalk. It grew darker and darker as the sun drowned behind the mountains. The shadows grew taller and the evening got chillier. Her hair flowed back freely as the wind blew through it. She clutched her shawl closely to her chest, accumulating as much warmth as possible as her flimsy chiffon dress was not doing a very good job. The streets were deserted, no car or pedestrian in sight. It almost seemed like it was midnight rather than twilight. As the last line of light disappeared from the horizon, ...

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Why single-sex schools are failing your children

Recently, I came across diaries of mine from my mid-teenage years. For close to a year, nine out of my 10 diary entries revolved around some boy or another, while the rest revolved around the intensity of my self-hatred because of how the opposite gender made me feel. There were a few entries scattered throughout concerning friends and family, but that was about it. What put me off was that even after flipping through multiple entries it was difficult to come across actual events from the year. All that particular years’ diary covers is boys and their affect on ...

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#AqalOverShakal: Why is society suffocating me?

I was told to walk straight, shoulders back and, in short, not like a man. I often talk with a natural deep voice and receive raised eyebrows in return. I have 80% male friends with whom I can just be myself and say “Aur jani, chai scene on?”. At least they create less drama in my life. I know how the clutch and gear works in a car and I am pretty quick at learning all the technical stuff (call me when your car gets too hot to handle). I am against the idea of sitting in front of aunties who expect ...

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The road not taken: Going to Cambridge or getting married

In Pakistan, and in my native language Urdu, woman translates into aurat, which comes from the Persian awrah, meaning “parts to be protected”. Literally, too, in my present Muslim, closed-knit, patriarchal society, women like me are guided — by their fathers, husbands, brothers, sons — to be protected from threats against their body and family honour. While these men encourage “western” trends to an extent — like education at reputable schools, recreational sports, or even temporary employment — cultural traditions halt these prospects after marriage. You are born, our men tell us, to marry fast, and vouchsafe both yourselves and your future daughters ...

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International Day of Persons with Disabilities: A special thanks to the hands that rock the cradle

Every year the third day of December is marked as the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, exclusively reserved to pay tribute to people with disabilities and acknowledge their contributions and achievements. On this prestigious occasion, conventionally, accomplishments of disabled persons are highlighted and cherished: seminars are organised on governmental level as well as by private organisations, television channels air special programs and conduct interviews of distinguished individuals and print media publishes editorials and success stories in recognition of people with disabilities. However, despite suffering from visual impairment and being a vocal proponent of rights of disabled community, I wish to address ...

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They said I was a paedophile, a prostitute, sick in the head, all because I loved a younger man

I was in the 10th grade when a friend of mine told us that she was in love with this guy who was a trainee pilot and was six years older than her. Quite frankly, it did not strike me as anything unusual since my own parents have an age gap of around eight years between them. And if anything, such age differences are deemed desirable by our society at large. I was also fully aware that my friend was mature and knew what she was doing. At no point in that conversation were the intentions of the guy doubted. ...

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It all started with a so-called wrong number

I come from an open-minded household; however, my beliefs about relationships and marriage are very traditional. I disapproved of love before wedlock and looked down upon affairs and relationships. I got married young to a man much older; he became my friend, lover and confidant. Even after having children, we are inseparable. It was only when I found out about my husband’s affair that I broke down and my whole life seemed like a lie to me. I still chose to forgive and forget considering my values did not allow for a divorce and I chose to stay with him. ...

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Because smoking damages a man’s lungs and ruins a woman’s honour

While universities around the world are trying to promote freedom of expression and invest in the development of their students, in the case of Pakistan, higher education institutions are stifling debate, cracking down on any independent thought and churning out automatons by the hundreds. For instance, they are more focused on wasting paper with unoriginal research papers, as former students of University of Engineering and Technology (UET) were recently caught plagiarising a whole paper verbatim and almost got away with having it published. International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI) has stopped its students from celebrating Pakhtun culture day, while Punjab University arrested ...

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When Sadaf Kanwal threw her privilege all over the place

I remember the first time I saw an ad featuring Sadaf Kanwal. I was walking past a clothing shop, and I stared into her big bold eyes, encompassing the entirety of a wall. I was thinking about how beautiful she was, and flawless, up on that wall for the world to see. Recently, this same beautiful model spoke about the #MeToo movement on a public forum. “You know aap ke sath #MeToo jab ho, tab bol do. Baad mein aap ko yaad araha hai #MeToo, so I think jab ho bol do.” (You know when you experience a #MeToo incident, say it then. Why ...

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