Stories about womens rights

Saudi women are eager to take the wheel, but are they ready to be harassed even more?

On September 26th, a much-awaited milestone was achieved in Saudi Arabia – a royal decree issued by King Salman that allows Saudi women to drive. The Kingdom, which received much backlash for being the only country in the world that doesn’t already allow women to drive, has finally been relieved of this tarnish. Saudi women will no longer need their guardians’ permission to obtain a driving license nor need a man present with them in the car. After decades of struggle to get the ban uplifted, people took to social media to welcome the landmark decision, which is part of new reforms in the ...

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With one royal decree, Saudi Arabia has driven away decades of injustice

I was at the wheel of my own motor when the news came over BBC: King Salman of Saudi Arabia has issued a decree permitting Saudi women the right to drive. In one royal decree, he had swept away decades of injustice against half of the Kingdom. As I navigated the evening rush hour in New York, I felt the tears welling up in my eyes. An almost unintelligible Saudi women activist speaking to the BBC babbled with joy at the news, announcing that she would now drive her dream car – a Ford Mustang convertible. Saudi Arabia until today was the only country in the world to ban women from ...

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The rape story we are all living inside of

It’s not science fiction and it’s not the nation’s growth story. It’s the rape story we are all living inside of. In this rape story, your female/male/trans body is owned broadly by the state but specifically and practically by your father, and next to him, your elder brothers, and next to them, your uncles and your younger brothers. They decide who to hand over your body to. This new person now has rights to access your body, its seed and its fruit. Sometimes money exchanges are involved in this story. The new owner of a female body takes money in addition to control ...

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Dear misogynist from Parhlo, this is what Pakistani feminists want you to know

I came across an article on Parhlo today, and infuriated does not come close to encapsulating how I feel, so here’s my response to it. Before you start calling me a “feminazi” – listen closely. The roots of feminism lie in finding equality; it is not about disowning male rights, or putting women above, it is about finding an equal ground that pleases both genders. Questioning, or challenging or taking offense to feminism makes you a sexist, plain and simple. Have you not heard of the damsel in distress? Have you not heard of the ‘Angel in the House’? I wouldn’t be surprised if you haven’t because let’s ...

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“Oh, it’s just a small cut so why are you complaining?”

“Oh, it’s just a small cut so why are you complaining?” Those are the words of Filzah Sumartono from AWARE – a group dedicated to women’s rights – when she tries to talk about the taboo subject with members of her community. It is astounding that people avoid this topic with a wave of the hand, branding it as a “small cut” especially when the effects of such a procedure can be damaging – both physically and mentally. According to Orchid Project, girls and women can suffer from emotional distress throughout their lives, not to mention having feelings of fear, helplessness, ...

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Is it really the working class men who stop privileged women from ‘doing their own thing’?

Yesterday, we shared the Do Your Own Thing (DYOT) video with our take on it. The video was taken down last night, so our post has disappeared… along with all the shares made from this page. For the sake of the on-going discussion on social media right now, we are re-posting our comments again: This video has recently been shared a lot and the feelings many people expressed have been mixed. We think it is useful to talk more about it and add to the conversation. Firstly, kudos to these girls. This could not have been easy to do. We have to be ...

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Killing patriarchy, one headscarf at a time

Every once in a while, I come across news that fills me with hope that patriarchy will indeed perish someday, and that all is not lost in vain. And the news about Iranian men donning hijabs, in solidarity with their wives was one of those rare moments. For the past few days, several men have been posting pictures of themselves wearing the hijab – and some even wearing the full burqa – to not only show solidarity with their wives, who have been forced to cover up in accordance with the strict ‘modesty’ rules of the country, but also to protest ...

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Sheraniland: Sharia law needs saving from Mr Sherani

In the past 15 years alone, Pakistan has made great strides by introducing numerous laws to help embolden and empower its womenfolk. Unfortunately, for Pakistan’s women, putting pen to paper only creates the law. It doesn’t actually implement that law. Nor does that law act as a shield against Pakistan’s powerful yet disillusioned institution of bearded clerics with an agenda. Take for example, the current chairman of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) Maulana Sherani, whose favourite pastime (when not fist fighting other maulanas) is undoing centuries of incremental change in women’s rights with a quick brandishing of the religious zealot’s favourite weapon: the mighty, all-encompassing and all too frequently misinterpreted torch of Sharia law. To be ...

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Why were Karachi University girls beaten up for playing cricket?

News of young women playing cricket at Karachi University being beaten by religious thugs is not a great way to start your day. Members of the Islami Jamiat Talaba (IJT) had warned the cricket-playing women days ago, then came and broke up a mixed-gender game, and beat up both the men and women, members of the Punjabi Students Association, with batons. University officials seem to be passing this off as a clash between two student groups, but the IJT outright denies they beat up any of the young women. Campus violence involving political groups and religious groups has long plagued Pakistani universities, especially ...

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Was I objectified and humiliated because I am a woman?

To be honest, I had no plans of writing this blog post, till some well-intentioned friends noticed my passive-aggressive rant on Facebook a few days back and nudged me to let it all out. Indeed, I owe it to their encouragement and to my own sanity. Not to mention, the borderline harassment incident that makes me want to smash pumpkins for Halloween. Just for starters. It all began when I was stopped by security guards at the gate of the Parliament House, asking me to prove my identity. As if flashing my press and senate cards was not enough, I had to verbally ...

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