Stories about university

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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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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I wanted to be a doctor my whole life but ended up doing BBA, and life changed

As a child, I always wanted to pursue medicine. I was the kid who would memorise the names of bones from a skeleton drawn in her book and tell her dad about this achievement. Medicine was my passion from the start. As a teenager, I wanted to do something substantial in life and my goal was to be an independent woman like my mother. Working hard had become both a passion and a liability to achieve what I always wanted to do. But last year, when the time for admissions into medical colleges came, things didn’t play out so well. And ...

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Mehrbano’s dreams, Saleem’s desires

“Abba I don’t want to get married. I want to study and become a doctor. You can’t do this to me. Abba please!” “Be quiet!” “Abba, I promise I won’t disappoint you. Saleem goes to school too, why can’t I?” Abba struck Mehrbano full in the face. That stunned her into silence. She saw her father’s placid eyes scintillate with anger. His eyes unnerved her. His eyes made her feel like a small little girl again. Mehrbano’s defiance crumbled and she agreed to meet her suitor. Saleem was sweating profusely, as the sun beat down on him, relentless. He threaded his way through the ...

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I boycotted IoBM’s convocation because of its prevalent misogyny and commercialisation

It was a day I wanted to dedicate to my parents; a day which would have made me realise that I am a normal person – a knowledge seeker who loved to study and who managed to not get the label of a ‘drop out’. It was a day which would have amassed all the bits of happiness from the six years of exhaustive struggle of getting a university education, finally making me smile cheerfully. But no, I had to stand by the principles I had learnt all these years, while studying independently as well as at my college, and ...

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My feminism does not teach me to hate men

I was waiting to board a bus to Boston to attend a Model United Nations (MUN) conference, when one of my fellow teammates enquired about my undergraduate major. I excitedly and proudly exclaimed, “Gender, sexuality and women’s studies!” Considering that I was the only women’s studies major among the many political science majors, I took pride in that little piece of diversity that set me apart from the rest. Surprised at my response, she asked me, “On a scale of one to 10, how big of a feminist are you?” Assuming that she was joking, I let out a laugh, until I saw a serious ...

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If I look like a boy and walk like a boy, why can’t I be a girl?

While I found private buses very easy on my pocket, I hadn’t travelled in one for over a year, even though I would travel in it all the time while I was in university. I had started noticing something strange. We all know what goes on in buses; but this was different. I realised that people were talking about my gender; they weren’t sure if I was a woman or a man. For instance, once when I was going back home from work and had to take a bus, the female compartment was almost empty so I availed the opportunity and hopped on the ...

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LUMS will most definitely change you, not necessarily for the better

“LUMS is the Harvard of Pakistan”, echo the tangled throng of prospective students and parents all across the country. You take the self-proclaimed mission statement of the university to “achieve excellence and national and international leadership” at face value and assume that this is the best place to educate yourself. Should you be lucky enough to get a one-way ticket to four years at this prestigious institution, you will find yourself amidst a swarm of other sweat-stained, bright lanyard-sporting students in the heat of August during Orientation Week. During this week, you will hear every misrepresentation of this university in the book and more. Within ...

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Balochistan is far from “uncivilised” and these women prove just that!

That Pakistan has a youth bulge is well known to most informed readers, but what the youth thinks about the myriad challenges faced by the country rarely gets space in the media, especially when it comes to females from minority communities. The First International Conference on Social Sciences recently held at Sardar Bahadur Khan Womens’ University in Quetta, Balochistan, provided me with an opportunity to learn just that. SBK Womens’ University caters to around 6000 female students from all parts of Balochistan and offers up to MPhil and PhD degrees. In 2013, the university was attacked in a suicide bombing that ...

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Forget the top 800, KU deserves to be in the top 100 universities of the world!

There are rare moments when I become proud of my alma-mater. As unfortunate as it may sound, there aren’t many instances where the University of Karachi (KU) is mentioned in an amicable light. So whenever it is mentioned positively, I savour it. I revel in KU’s popularity and I cherish the few moments of spotlight grandeur this university is offered. Earlier this week, Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) – a reputed British ranking agency – revealed that six universities from Pakistan had made it to the top 800 educational institutions around the world. And, lo and behold, KU was one of them. ...

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