Stories about womens rights

Will Sindh’s first female SHO Ghazala be able to survive in a man’s world?

It was encouraging to read the news of appointment of Officer Syeda Ghazala as Sindh’s first female Station House Officer (SHO) of Clifton Police Station, Karachi. This is definitely a step in the right direction, both in terms of policing and in domains of social justice, equality and women’s rights. The decision to appoint a female commander is nothing short of an informal declaration of the beginning of women’s emancipation in Pakistan at the grass roots level (where it is needed the most). To set the stage, let me relate my experience from early this year with Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) One Stop ...

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The problem with our drama industry and its depiction of Pakistani women

The troubled image of modern Pakistani women conjured up by Pakistani dramas is extremely distorted and single dimensional. Stories, it is said, are a subtle yet are the most influential way of documenting the social evolution of a society. The story of a woman sells but the modern media has gone one step ahead by proving that the story of a woman being abused, tortured, beaten and humiliated sells faster. The massive projection of domestic and women related violence might appear as an attempt to serve the cause but a closer look will reveal an entirely different and gross story. The disturbing image of woman ...

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The ‘place’ for women is not just ‘the kitchen’

The term ‘male-dominated society’ does not mean (against common misconception) the subjugation of women to physical violence or having biases towards them. However, to say that it is nothing will also be a gross understatement. The term basically means an opportunity to attest and exhibit supremacy, in any form. Even a demeaning nod at the idea of an achievement by the opposite gender is as derogatory as the worst form of it may be. One doesn’t have to advocate ‘feminism’ or ‘masculinity’ to believe in gender equality – this only gives birth to more sexism. Sexism, like racism, should not be ...

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Hasan Nisar and nude beaches in Pakistan

A well-known journalist, Hasan Nisar was recently criticised by religious extremists and individual zealots from all over the country for a statement he made on a TV show. The most circulated interpretation of his statement has been that he suggested nude beaches in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. I won’t be surprised if the analyst regrets having said something like that in a country where a woman is not just a woman but an honour for her family, sometimes her neighbourhood and in the case of women like Dr Aafia Siddiqui and Veena Malik, for the entire country. From a liberal perspective, the suggestion has been ...

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“Ask for ‘permission’ before taking a second wife? That is out of the question!”

Suddenly the head of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) has claimed that it’s against the tenets of Islam for a man to seek permission from his wife before taking another one. The question that arises is why now, after more than 53 years? When the law was enacted, Islamic scholars like Maududi, Noorani and Mufti Mahmud were active politicians. None of them objected. Therefore, it was assumed that the Muslim Family Laws Ordinance, 1961 was in accordance with the teachings of Islam. So, what made the current head honcho of CII claim that there is no need to ask your wife if you want ...

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What is the point of International Women’s Day anyway?

In the land of technicolour, is there space for grey areas? Welcome to Pakistan. We are rapidly moving towards a positive change, for example, everyone now knows what Aldo sells – everyone who is anyone, that is. Another, more poignant example is how we are all set to celebrate International Women’s Day in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan for all the right reasons. Or at least that’s what we have been told – be happy on March 8 and go give the next woman you find a pat on the back. She may turn around and slap you but that’s okay. It ...

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Times A-changin’: A seven-year-old girl’s open letter to Lego about gender inequality

Charlotte Benjamin, a seven-year-old girl, visited a Lego store and noticed that the few girl legos that were available were only ‘sit at home, go to the beach, shop and had no jobs’ while the boys ‘went on adventures, worked, saved people, had jobs and even swam with sharks’. That’s quite an observation and a strong opinion for a child so young. Lego is a popular construction toy manufactured by The Lego Group, a private company based in Billund, Denmark. Lego consists of colourful interlocking plastic bricks and a collection of mini figures and gears. Lego blocks can be connected and ...

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A ‘Pink’ bus for women, really?!

Recently in Lahore we were graced with the news of the arrival of our very own ‘Pink Bus’. The purpose of this bus is to rid, albeit momentarily, the female population from the roving eyes, slippery hands and insensitive tongues of the male population; to give women ‘harassment-free-travel’. WHAT? Although the effort is admirable and shows that the government’s thinking is on the right track, the solution, a Pink bus, is a complete sham. The mere fact that the authorities thought it appropriate to introduce something like this should actually offend women and yet we sit there smile, look pretty and let the big, tough, muscular ...

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So many Hindu and female doctors! What is happening to Pakistan?

There are some things you can’t help doing – like talking to fundamentalists. I know many of them and almost all of them are convinced that non-Muslims want to harm Muslims. One such person, whom I have known for 25 years and who can’t compose a simple sentence in English (despite having two master’s degrees) thinks that since Pakistan was made for Muslims, those who are not Muslims should not be allowed to have jobs (unless there are no Muslims available, as for instance in jobs like cleaning up lavatories). This man is deeply concerned about the growing number of Hindu doctors in Karachi’s ...

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Is Islam better practised in the West?

Most people are very quick to point out the flaws and imperfections of Western lifestyle, citing promiscuity, free flowing alcohol, homosexuality, gay marriage and a free mixing of sexes as the main ingredients in its destruction and thus its aberration from Islam.  However, I personally think Islam is implemented in a much more effective manner in the West than it is in Pakistan. Why? Well for several reasons – the social welfare system, the cleanliness of streets, the unacceptability of discrimination, the freedom to practice your religion and a system which protects women and recognises their rights as commensurate with men. Social welfare By social welfare, ...

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