Stories about taboo

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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Finally, an ad that does not care about what a man-child might think about menstruation

Menstruation? I know what most of you are going to say: “Oh no! Run to the door! Run to the hills!” In this ‘beautiful’ society of ours, menstruation is synonymous with shame. Women and men, alike, recoil at this ‘topic’ faster than you can say “pad”. See, anything below the waistline is taboo for us Pakistanis, but have we ever thought about the side effects of having such a mind-set? Most women feel on edge when it’s that time of the month, they feel isolated, impure, and fragile. This advert might be the only one of its kind. In our local and ...

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Why should a woman be shamed for being on her period?

I’ve been watching a recent debate unfold: students at a local university in Pakistan stuck sanitary napkins on the university walls with poignant quotes. As a woman, I admired the bravado of these students. Mainly because ever since we were kids, we’re told that since we are the ‘weaker/fairer’ sex, we shouldn’t: “Wear too much make-up”, “Wear a dupatta this way” “Wear such high heels”, “Don’t talk so loudly’, Oh yeah, and, “When on your period, channel your inner Jane Bond.” Maybe the men don’t get the whole psyche that’s inbuilt women from the age their periods start. The society has some sort of a state of ...

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I was never his wife, I was only his slave

“I maybe from a  third world country but I have a heart like you do, emotions like you have, and dreams to pursue. On my first Eid as a married girl, I wanted to dress up and celebrate my new beginning instead of being in a hospital bed recovering from the effects of abuse.” I got married in March 2014 in Chicago with dreams of starting a new life and a future built out on love and trust in my new home. My parents were so assured that they were giving me into the hands of an educated guy; someone who ...

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