Stories about working

#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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My life as “chota”

“Chotay! Sab kaam chhor, sahab ke liye chai la!” (Junior! Leave everything else, bring tea for sir) “Chotay! Ustad ki bike pe kapra maar jaldi!” (Junior! Quickly clean your master’s bike) “Chotay! Abay chotay! Kisi kaam ka nahi hai tu, nikammay!” (Junior! You are good for nothing, you nincompoop!) My life revolves around these few phrases. Phrase that pierce through my 11-year-old heart. Did I choose this life? Did I wish to be in this position, where I am often looked at with sympathetic eyes and silent tongues? No. But I am thankful to God for giving me this life. This auto-mechanic garage is my home away from home. My safe ...

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Pakistan’s children are unsheltered, uneducated and uncared for

The Pakistani state treats its children with criminal neglect despite many laws and policies to protect them. The Constitution guarantees children between the ages of five and 16 the right to compulsory education; yet over six million children are out of school, and others in government and private schools receive a compromised education with little practical relevance to their lives. Pakistani labour laws, although ambivalent on what constitutes juvenility, are consistent on the fact that children should not work in hazardous occupations or long hours or at all if they are under the age of 12. Yet, children work long hours and in ...

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Being a mother is a job – One some can’t afford to pay for

Being a mother is the toughest job in the world. It requires immense patience, diligence and courage, in the course of moulding young souls into responsible individuals who will be capable of obtaining a livelihood one fine day. While the importance and due respect of any job shouldn’t be suppressed, we as a society are at a consistent risk of undermining – or worse ignoring – the role of mothers in our lives. “How do you kill time, staying at home all day?” This is the most frequently posed question to any mother who doesn’t pursue a career. The words fully serve the purpose of ...

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When will we start recognising our Women of Impact like the West does?

Pakistani women have done us proud again by securing a place in New York Time’s Women of Impact list 2015. The list honours outstanding women from around the world. It is diverse and interesting, bringing home the point that these individuals have managed to carve a place for themselves by standing up for the cause of women and other marginalised factions of society. Out of the 50 women given the honour, education activist Malala Yousafzai and film maker Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy have bagged the 36th and 48th positions respectively, and we all know that honours and recognitions are not new to them. Both ladies have devoted their lives to ...

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Pakistan’s unstable, schizophrenic relation with Afghanistan

Pakistan and Afghanistan enjoy a ‘brotherly’ relationship that is nothing less than a theatre of the absurd. It has had its highs and lows and has had moments when people have scratched their heads and wondered about the emotionally unstable, schizophrenic handling of bilateral affairs by their erratic and volatile leaderships. With an extremely porous, almost non-existent border featuring a treacherous terrain of hills and rugged mountains standing between the two countries, the people of both lands have endured hard times since decades now. As if the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the late 70s was not enough with a massive influx of refugees spilling into Pakistan throughout the 80s, ...

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Confessions of a comment moderator at The Express Tribune’s blogs page

The first time I moderated comments, for the blogs section of The Express Tribune, I learnt a sad truth; people have unabashed hatred for one another. I couldn’t believe until I saw it myself. Perhaps I was living in a bubble, I thought we had come a long way from partition and that Pakistanis and Indians had learnt to coexist. I didn’t think that Muslims and Hindus cringed at the very mention of the other. It wasn’t long before, I started moderating comments flooding in from around the world and, my idealistic bubble burst. Our blog readers belong to the educated class. ...

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Don’t Christians in Pakistan deserve a church?

This Good Friday, on April 18, 2014, I met a wonderful Christian housewife named Seema, in Lassori. Christians make up 1.6% of Pakistan’s population, and have been serving in every profession. Seema explained that for the last 60 years, 58 Christians have been working as farm labourers in Lassori Tobatake Singh. She and her husband, Allah Ditta, work in the fields and own two goats and a cow. She explained that the entire street comprised of 40 houses on each side and that all the residents present were Christians. Her parents had migrated during the British colonial rule, when the latter allotted ...

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Working women do not make better moms

“Working women do not make better moms,” I told an audience comprising of my teachers and fellow students in my primary school where my own mother was working as a teacher. I had the audacity to look her in the eye as I completed my argument in the speech competition. She looked back with a smile and I looked away. I had a good reason for the argument. Ever since my mother started working I saw a change in my family life. She often brought work home and then struggled with house chores. I got lesser treats at home. There were no more homemade doughnuts ...

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In Hangu, are teachers a specie quickly going extinct?

A few days ago when I was going home, I received a text message from Abdullah Khan, a journalist working in Kohat, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P). It said that three primary school teachers had been killed in Kach Bandha, Hangu in a drive-by shooting. I immediately called him to confirm the news. I felt goose bumps as he told me that three teachers – Muhammad Khan, Syed Khalil and Faqir Hussain – had been killed and two of them had been targeted because of their sectarian affiliation. These teachers had left their homes in the morning with prayers from their families and were killed that same ...

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