Stories about women

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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Sindh may lack basic amenities but its women surely know how to break glass ceilings

From the very moment they are born, our girls are taught they are dependent upon the men in the family. As the girls become women, they grow up believing they need their fathers, brothers, husbands or sons to look after them and protect them. However, most Pakistani men are unfortunately good at depriving women of their social rights under the garb of religion or culture. Women are often denied an education or the chance to gain employment, deprived of their due share in inheritance, and even killed in the name of honour under the guise of “protection”. Amidst all the ...

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The scars of her henna

Zarah Hussain, a 17-year-old girl from Lahore Grammar School International, won an essay competition organised by the British Royal Commonwealth Society. This is a proud moment for Pakistan and highlights how much talent we have in this country. We hope she continues her love for words and wish her all the best for the future. The following is the short story that won her the accolade: Red. Gold. Adorned in jewels, henna lacing her fingers with intricate, never ending flowers. And hidden in the henna somewhere would be written the name of her most beloved. A dream she’d dreamt since she’d seen the ring ...

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When Sadaf Kanwal threw her privilege all over the place

I remember the first time I saw an ad featuring Sadaf Kanwal. I was walking past a clothing shop, and I stared into her big bold eyes, encompassing the entirety of a wall. I was thinking about how beautiful she was, and flawless, up on that wall for the world to see. Recently, this same beautiful model spoke about the #MeToo movement on a public forum. “You know aap ke sath #MeToo jab ho, tab bol do. Baad mein aap ko yaad araha hai #MeToo, so I think jab ho bol do.” (You know when you experience a #MeToo incident, say it then. Why ...

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