Stories about women

#MeToo: I am older, wiser and more determined than the little girl who was forced to hold an imam’s genitals – but not safer

The first time it happened, I was seven. An imam in our neighbourhood mosque held me, taking my hand, wrapping my fingers (they were still tiny) around his genitals, then massaging it. I was so small I did not know what it was that was in my hand. I had never seen it before and I certainly did not know what it felt like.  “Do you like it?” he asked again and again, until someone came to the room, and he quickly let go of me. Later, I told my mom about this peculiar incident, and she wept for weeks and months over ...

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Dear sexist men, I don’t chant “Hala Madrid” to compete for your heart

I had never been much of a sports fan. My father loves cricket and whenever he watched it, I either watched it half-heartedly with him or just left the room. It never interested me like it interested many of my friends. I thought maybe I am not into sports; maybe the extent of me liking sports is restricted to playing basketball. I was introduced to football back in school. It seemed so new to me, I had never explored this game. People at school talked about it and apparently watching it was cooler than watching cricket. I tried watching it ...

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That night she became Riffat Bai and everything changed

“Kokhla chapha kay jumairaat ayi hay… jaira picchay murr kay wekkhay odhi shaamat aai hay… kokhla chapha kay jumairaat ayi hay… jaira picchay mur…” their chanting went on and on. (I have hidden the dupatta behind you on Thursday and if you turn your head around, you’ll be in trouble) She dragged herself from the pile in the corner. Steadying herself against the wall, she looked around for her cane. It was in the other corner of the room. She sat back down, sliding against the wall. The paint crackled as she moved, falling down the feeble wall. Holding herself against ...

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A woman covered with a dupatta, unlike the covered lollipop, will never be covered enough

As I strolled out of Emporium Mall the other day and waited for my car, a street urchin approached me. Assuming she was going to ask for some money, I pretended not to see her, but then she did something shockingly out of the ordinary – she adjusted the dupatta on my chest, draping it in a manner so that my entire chest was now covered by a sheet of cloth. “Baaji, kitni pyari ho (you’re so pretty), but it doesn’t look good na”, she said, pointing to the men standing nearby. “All the brothers are looking at you. Look even I have my dupatta on ...

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The women of Kohistan suffer in silence as they search for water that doesn’t exist

Hazoora, a 24-year-old native of Kohistan (an arid piece of land located near Thatta), complains that her hair is falling due to transporting heavy cans of water on her head since she was eight-years-old. She travels approximately one to eight kilometres every day to fetch her share of water, and her body aches from carrying six to seven buckets of water daily for domestic needs. Even her pregnancy did not put an end to her ordeal since water is not a commodity one can live without. This is not just Hazoora’s plight, but the plight of thousands of women living in this ...

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Body-shaming Kareena Kapoor’s “fat legs” post pregnancy? Because giving birth to a human being isn’t painful enough for women?

To think that after the global backlash against the shamers of Mahira Khan, the world of shamers would take the back seat, is indeed just a hopeful thought. Khan got slut-shamed over her choice of clothes (the dress, by the way, is really sexy!) and for smoking a cigarette because smoking cigarettes automatically turns women into ‘unreputable women’.  Kareena Kapoor was shamed on Instagram shortly after the Khan incident for having ‘fat legs’. The Indian actress, who just gave birth to her son Taimur Ali Khan, has remained an inspiration for new moms as well as moms-to-be. During her pregnancy, she flaunted her baby bump unapologetically when ...

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Honour is our national shame, not Mahira Khan

It’s 2017, which means every day one wakes up to a new outrage on social media – it is simply the way of the world now. You pick a side and tweet incessantly until the next outrage-inducing news comes along. Now, normally, I try my best to act reasonable and get some facts before I join the outrage train, so imagine my surprise when I see pictures of Mahira Khan smoking with Ranbir Kapoor, and I immediately begin to judge her. How could I not? Did you see what she was wearing? My first thought was, ‘wow, what a lovely dress!’ What do we have to ...

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When did I become your favourite punching bag?

Have you ever hoped for silence? Have you waited for minutes, hours and even days for the absence of words, conversation and noise? I find myself here more often than I should. Sitting at my bedside questioning my life and sanity, wondering what path I took that brought me here. A path I question but very well know; the curves and bumps on each and every step. This isn’t a new occurrence, it happens often and every time I tell myself I will soon escape this moment of craving pure silence. I feel like a caged bird, clipped off of her wings and fragile ...

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Lipstick Under My Burkha does not empower women; it only pits woman against woman – one of patriarchy’s best defences

A movie that was initially banned in India because it was too ‘women-oriented’ and led to a discussion on feminism and looking at women with their imperfections and sexual longings, was bound to be good. After all, it was set to create a revolution. But Lipstick Under My Burkha is anything but that. In actuality, it only hopes to inspire a sentiment of female empowerment, only to take you back to the chains towed by patriarchy, just like it eventually does to its protagonists. As the movie opens, we are introduced to the four protagonists – Bua ji (Ratna Pathak), Leela (Aahana Kumra), Shireen ...

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Why do I have to pretend to fast when my “monthly friend” is visiting?

I sit in the room at the end of the hallway. The door is closed. My head is bent. I am waiting to be called. I was six-years-old. I stood on the balcony with my mother, father and cousin as we tried to spot the chaand that would symbolise the start of Ramazan. I was excited. I was thrilled; there was nothing I wanted more than to fast for the entire month. I started singing, “Ramazan ke rozay aye, hum roza rakhna chahain!” (The month of fasting is here, and we wish to fast!) My cousin shared the same enthusiasm; he got up and began singing along with me. ...

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