Stories about women

Pakistan must ensure that women are included in the family planning process

Her backache is better, and she is feeling relieved for more than one reason. An hour ago, Azra got an Intrauterine Contraceptive Device (IUCD) which she calls a challa (ring) inserted, with her own free will; the IUCD will potentially give her a break of five years from conceiving a child. This 30-plus years old mother of three, who does not know even her own exact age, knows well now that to remain healthy to look after her three children, and to possibly give birth to healthy children in the future, her body needs a break. Azra had come to the Naudero ...

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Dishonesty: an enduring tool that women carry to survive

Whether it is the fashion industry with their unrealistic beauty standards, politics with their manifestos and sham alliances, biased education systems with fixed agendas or desperate-for-profit corporations and their misleading claims, we are on the receiving end of tons of lies everyday. Despite honesty being a virtue everyone strives for, dishonesty is omnipresent.  However, I aim to specifically shed light at what the honesty of women means under the patriarchy, the forced and institutionalised dishonesty they have to engage in under this system and what affect that has on them. I argue that women are expected to lie all their ...

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The unforgettable iconic queens of 70s cinema

The 70s was a golden era for the silver screen in Pakistan – the wave of retro glamour queens. These women redefined the cinematic footprint marking the future of Pakistani cinema in decades to come. By the 1950s, the young urban rebels of Pakistan had begun to veer away from the staunch rightist saint culture of the 50s to the leftist hippie culture of the 60s. Growing up as a 70s child was fascinating. Music became significantly prominent alongside populist political movements, as rallies become a cultural under-belly of fanfare, glamour and style. The cinema of that era, now known as Lollywood, was a ...

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Criminalising abortions and miscarriages: Is America going back to the Dark Ages?

America is an exceptionally confusing place. Doctors in Alabama can now face up to 99 years in prison for performing an abortion, whereas people like poster boy Stanford swimmer Brock Turner face six months (three due to good behaviour) for being a rapist. Political party culture and conflicting ideologies have been the root of heated debates surrounding life, death, and the disturbing reality that 25 men can tell a woman what to do with her body in the 21st century, and a judge can write a law on abortion in God’s name in a country where church and state ...

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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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The irony and hypocrisy of Shaan Shahid mansplaining ‘culture and respect’

For as long as Pakistanis can remember, Shaan Shahid has been a staple of Pakistani cinema. In the past, he was that guy in every Punjabi movie, and post-revival of Pakistani cinema, he became that guy who always ends up playing the patriot. While Shahid deserves respect as one of the most prominent actors of our film industry, his Twitter account has made it hard for us to respect much else about him. Some context: just like last year, Aurat March was held on International Women’s Day this year as well in many cities across Pakistan. And just like last year, ...

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Dishonoured

For every person, there is one emotion they can never handle with ease. For me, that emotion is anxiety. As I stand amidst the neon lights and blaring music, my hands are sweating profusely and my eyes dart from corner to corner in search of a means of escape. My heart is clogged with a lump that threatens to emerge in the form of tears. The atmosphere around me is so loud that I feel my own personality melting into the beats of the drums. But no matter how much I wish to, I can’t drink away the troubles of ...

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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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The year that #Metoo was reborn, and with it the sisterhood of victims

It is the defining moment of the year gone by, not because it finally became part of a global movement but more so because it took a second wind to unsettle the dominant voices of patriarchal corridors and send a message that #Metoo was not about some misguided and delayed wave for justice, just as it was never about a woman in the wrong job at the wrong time. All it had ever been about was consent. October 2018 will be remembered as the renaissance of the #MeToo movement in India. A forgotten actress Tanushree Dutta touched down from the ...

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