Stories about veil

Why I ditched my chador

When I was in my teens, some 20 years ago, my parents would tell me to wear a chador (a large piece of cloth that is wrapped around the head and upper body) and cover myself every time I would go out of the house. I lived in a small city and my father was widely known. Each time I stepped out of my house, I would cover myself from head to toe, sometimes even the face if I was with my father, as he didn’t want people gazing at his daughter. I understood at the time that this was essential for ...

Read Full Post

Is #MeToo doing more harm than good in Pakistan?

I am not going to start with a validation of how the #MeToo as a movement was so desperately needed to save us women. Frankly, my conscience could no longer bear witnessing the abuse of this narrative, most especially within the elite circles, to which all of us writing and commenting belong. Let me start by saying that women like me, like Aysha Raja, and like all those writing about the relevance of #MeToo, are born with the privilege of empowerment. We are, in most cases, as empowered as the men in our lives. I have myself seen women ...

Read Full Post

24 absurd beliefs Pakistanis have

Norms are beliefs about how members of a group should behave in a particular context. They are informal and often ‘invisible’ understandings and rules that govern a group’s behaviour towards particular religious, social, cultural, political and socio-economic triggers. Norms generally define what is acceptable in a society or group and are the building blocks for appropriate and inappropriate values, beliefs, attitudes, behaviours, ideologies and narratives. These rules are generally implicit. In addition to what is considered normative in societal, political or cultural context, there are smaller groups within a society which endorse a particular norm. On one hand, norms define how to move, what to wear, how ...

Read Full Post

Series 2: “The Djinn” Part 5 A child of fire

Hercules ‘filtered’ through the kitchen wall one day, but it was not his unconventional entrance or his massive djinn like physique on that occasion that made me stare at him blankly. It was that I was not used to seeing him anywhere except in the study. When I inquired so, he shrugged and walked around the kitchen, peering at the various appliances, finally stopping at the toaster. “What’s this?” I allowed myself to reflect briefly on the irony of someone as powerful as Hercules being stumped by a kitchen toaster before explaining and offering to toast some bread to demonstrate, but he took the slice of ...

Read Full Post

Series 2: “The Djinn” Part 2 Hercules

Having met the djinn once, I was looking forward to meeting him again. So a few days later, I went into the study and knocked on his ‘door’, the drawer at the bottom of my grandfather’s hat stand. “What?” responded an irritable voice. I opened my mouth, intending to ask him to please come out, before recalling that I didn’t know his name. What does one call a djinn in the absence of a name? Djinn sahib? Djinn ji? Or plain and simple ‘djinn’? He saved me from this dilemma by appearing just then, all six inches of him, complete with bikini, spats ...

Read Full Post

Series 2: “The Djinn” Part 1 Who are you?

The Pattersons, an English couple and previous owners of my grandparents’ house, had returned to where they had come from when their countrymen left India. There’s a picture of them on the landing; she is sitting on a deck chair in shorts while he is hanging over the back in white flannels with a chota peg in hand. Both of them appear to be sun-streaked blondes, the “dahling”, coffee party types. My grandmother, on the other hand, modelled herself as the ideal woman in her Bahishti zewar (heavenly ornaments) which meant that the sun rose on my grandfather’s… well from his ears, ...

Read Full Post

If she can walk around in skin-tight clothes, why can’t I wear my veil?

Many people believe that the Islamic veil represents extremism, that it is a symbol of oppressing women. In April 2011, we saw France becoming the first European nation to ban the wearing of the veil in public. Several other countries, like Germany, Italy and Belgium among others, took inspiration from France and passed legislations banning the ‘hijab’. The irony is that even in the so-called Islamic Republic of Pakistan, a few schools forbid the wearing of the veil. Ayman Mobin, a straight A’s student in O/A Levels and now a medicine student at Dow Medical College recalled, “The director of Karachi Grammar School ...

Read Full Post

Hijab4Men: Let’s turn the tables and show men how it feels

You’re showing too much hair. You’re wearing a lot of makeup and your tight jeans? Well, you’re ruining the reputation of the hijab. These are just a few examples of the criticism many hijabis face.  Recently there were even adverts all over the Middle East comparing Muslim women to wrapped sweets – a lollipop with a wrapper symbolises perfection, that is, the angelic Muslim maintaining her pardah, while an ‘unwrapped lolly’ attracts flies to the haram enticement of an exposed ‘sweet’. The men behind such adverts will deny that comparing Muslim women to sweets is objectifying us. They will contest that they are merely using the analogy ...

Read Full Post

Banning the niqab in Britain: How very Taliban of you

A recent ban on the niqab, introduced at the Birmingham metropolitan college, has sparked huge controversy among the communities in Birmingham and across the United Kingdom. Over 9,000 students across the UK signed a petition against this decision made by the college administration. While a large number of political activists have condemned the decision, College Principal, Dame Christine Braddock DBE, described the ban as promoting robust equality, diversity and inclusiveness. She further stated that she is committed to ensure that students are provided with a safe and welcoming learning environment whilst studying there — a truly ‘British way of life’. I ...

Read Full Post

The Burka Avenger: Offended by a fictional superhero’s clothes

Disclaimer: Like the majority of those with ridiculously strong polarising opinions about Burka Avenger, I have yet to see the darned thing and haven’t the slightest clue what channel it’s on or when it airs; frankly, I grew out of the whole cartoon fad ages ago. Let me begin by asking how many of you really took their cartoons and comic super heroes seriously? If you attempted to jump off your roof in order to prove that you and Superman came from the same planet, please don’t bother to read any further. Right, okay, let me rephrase that question: how many of ...

Read Full Post