Stories about taboo

Motorcycle Girl will easily ride into the hearts of Pakistani women, but it may struggle at the box office

Adnan Sarwar, who debuted with Shah a few years ago, is back with another movie based on a true story. It is the story of the first female biker, Zenith Irfan, who travelled to Khunjerab on a bike all by herself. Motorcycle Girl is amongst the most awaited films of Pakistan; not just because Sohai Ali Abro plays the lead, but also because the movie is a tribute to women empowerment and tells the tale of how women can do whatever they set their minds to. Motorcycle Girl narrates the story of Zenith (Abro), who works in an agency, and because of ...

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Why your husband might be gay

Allow me to get straight to the point. Homosexuality exists, and contrary to the mass media being dominated by heterosexual affairs, the ubiquity of same-gender attraction cannot be ignored. Yes, we need to talk about this. It’s difficult to say what percentage of the population is gay, because ‘gay’ and ‘straight’ are not distinct demographics. About 2.5% of the population may be exclusively gay, but realistically speaking, every person lies somewhere on the spectrum. For a long time, we’ve relied on what is known as the ‘Kinsey Scale’ – rating a person on a scale of one to six, with one being ‘attracted ...

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With ‘Motorcycle Girl’ and #GirlsOnBikes, Pakistani women take a spin at reclaiming public spaces

Adnan Sarwar, the famed director cum musician of the biographical sports film Shah (2015), is back to mesmerise filmgoers with another biopic – Motorcycle Girl. This time, he dramatises the life of a young Pakistani woman whose real life motorcycle adventures were highlighted across the globe, and played a significant role in breaking the stereotypes surrounding women in a conservative society. Although, Sarwar’s directorial debut Shah, based on life-story of Olympian boxer, Hussain Shah, who won the bronze medal in the 1988 Summer Olympics, received mixed reviews upon its release in Pakistan, his latest venture has been much anticipated. Produced by Jami, ...

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The silence of the taboo: Why must I put my sanitary pads in a brown bag?

I was one of the most excited women in the newsroom when I heard Bollywood was making a movie tackling the taboo around menstruation called PadMan. As someone who detests censorship to the core, I thought perhaps now that the pad will be up on the silver screen, I will no longer be shamed for talking about periods openly, or for refusing to use the brown bag. But excitement didn’t last very long. Lo and behold! The Central Board of Film Censors banned PadMan in Pakistan. The details in the news were mind-blowing, a lot like how it feels when the uterus explodes and ...

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The #PadManBan is another example of Pakistan making the country a “comfortable” place for men, not its women

One often goes to the cinema to escape from the harsh realities of the world. The two or three hours spent at the theatre either throw us into fits of laughter, push us to the edge of our seats, or put us right to sleep if the movie is a snoozefest. Sometimes, however, it is necessary to watch a movie and encourage others to watch it too just because of its intriguing and eye-opening content. Twinkle Khanna’s movie PadMan starring Akshay Kumar, Sonam Kapoor and Radhika Apte, is one such movie that needs our attention. The movie talks about menstrual hygiene and normalising the most natural biological function ...

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Padman: Shaping the narrative surrounding menstrual hygiene with care and ironic wit

From Airlift (2016) to Rustom (2016) and from Toilet: Ek Prem Katha (2017) to recently released biopic Padman, Akshay Kumar is portraying inspirational characters and filmgoers are loving his selection of movie subjects. His latest thought-provoking venture Padman revolves around a taboo topic – menstruation. The movie skilfully highlights basic hygiene that is necessary during menstrual cycles. Based on Twinkle Khanna’s short story The Sanitary Man of Sacred Land, Padman is about Tamil Nadu’s Padmashree winner, Arunachalam Muruganantham, a social activist who not only empowered the village women but also created inexpensive sanitary pads. The film has been appreciated all over ...

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He exercised his right as a husband – he used iron bars to consummate his marriage

Over the past 10 days, Pakistan’s conscious was set ablaze and shaken up when a picture of seven-year-old Zainab’s dead body went viral on the internet. The minor girl from Kasur had been raped, murdered and then thrown in a heap of garbage. Yes, that is the reality of many countless girls (and boys) in this country. Kasur has already been under the spotlight previously for birthing and remaining the largest child pornography hub in the nation, supplying illegal child porn worldwide, making those very videos by continuously raping young boys and girls. The one positive thing that we all ...

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They say “women belong in the kitchen” – and that is exactly where I went, professionally

In 1929, Virginia Woolf raised questions that remain relevant about the lives of men and women today. She said, “In 100 years…women will have ceased to be the protected sex.” Adding that, “Logically, they will take part in all the activities and exertions that were once denied to them.” “Anything may happen when womanhood has ceased to be a protected occupation.” It all started with my love for food; mixing ingredients together to create a taste that will either blow your mind or your insides. I always saw my kitchen as a lab where I was the mad scientist working with different chemicals to create something that would not only ...

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With no medical reasons or links to religion, why are women still being circumcised?

Africa and certain parts of the Arab world are not the only places where the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) prevails, as Indonesia is currently on the hot seat for allowing female circumcision on girls as young as one-year-old.  On March 27th, a disheartening video of an Indonesian toddler surfaced which shook people around the world. In the said video, Salsa Djafar is shown decorated in a crown with ribbons and shiny clothes, ready to be circumcised. The video is not to be watched by the faint-hearted as it truly captures the pain of the little baby girl while ...

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The child marriage legislation is a step in the right direction, but will it be implemented?

Marriages are big business in Pakistan. It is a time of hope, happiness, faith and love. Such a memorable event can easily turn sour when the parties getting married are underage. To curb this heinous act, legislation has been passed by the National Assembly, aimed to reduce child marriages by ramping up the severity of the punishment.  Instead of being imprisoned for up to three years, individuals involved in arranging child marriages face a 10-year imprisonment with a one million rupees fine. This new change in the law seems to be a serious effort on part of the government to tackle this insidious practice. Although on ...

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