State of Neglect: Breaking the Silence on Sexual Abuse in Pakistan

State of Neglect: Breaking the Silence on Sexual Abuse in Pakistan

By Ammara Mustafa  This is a cross-post from Daily Times   Why does the State not take it upon itself to pursue cases of sexual assault? Does the fault lie in the judicial system or is it a deeper malaise? A child is full of curiosity, wonder and excitement when he or she opens their eyes into this new and alien world. A child who learns to walk by holding their parents’ hands and then later takes their first steps towards formal learning in educational institutions is a vulnerable being…

It’s Not Ok

It’s Not Ok

By Shazia Hobbs   Writer Shazia Hobbs was invited to Cleveland Police HQ, in Middlesborough, to speak at a conference titled ‘It’s Not OK’. The event was about breaking the silence on sexual violence and how to better protect victims. Shazia was representing the Halo Project Charity, an organisation that supports victims of honour-based violence, forced marriages and FGM  Here’s what she had to say on the subject.   – – –   I had known for a few months that I was going to be speaking at the ‘It’s Not OK’ event…

Pakistan: Whither freedoms and whither rights? 

Pakistan: Whither freedoms and whither rights? 

By Saima Baig On October 7, 2016, an article appeared in Pakistan’s Dawn Newspaper, alleging that in a civil military leadership meeting, the Government (prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his brother and other senior officials were present) had told the military representatives that if they did not make more efforts to go after terrorists, Pakistan will be isolated. Journalist Cyril Almeida, one of the newspaper’s senior writers, had reported that an argument had taken place between members of the Pakistani government and the army over lack of action against militant groups,…

They Called me Shameless

They Called me Shameless

By Scheherazade They called me shameless A disgrace For falling in love For wanting control over my own life The heart wants what it wants What could I have done? When I came home that night Trying to creep into my bed There they were Waiting for me instead. Rage on their faces. Slut Whore Beghairat, they said. All I wanted was to be free Soar with these wings Fly, wherever the wind would take me But I carried their honour Like a noose around my neck Which became tight Until…

Qandeel Baloch: A Trailblazing Non-Conforming Woman

Qandeel Baloch: A Trailblazing Non-Conforming Woman

By Arshia Malik There are many women who are non-conformists and Qandeel Baloch, aka Fouzia Azeem, was one of them. Sticking two fingers to a deeply misogynistic, patriarchal society, she lived life the way she wanted.  It is not an easy life to live — carefree and not bothered about the judgement and constant berating, ridicule and putting down from other compatriots, especially women. There has to be a strong sense of injustice to go against the very grain of your own family, peer group, tribe or a ”collective conscience”. Her marriage…

Women like Qandeel Baloch must not die in vain

Women like Qandeel Baloch must not die in vain

By Iram Ramzan   Yet another woman’s life has prematurely been taken in an ‘honour killing’. Pakistani internet sensation Qandeel Baloch was strangled by her brother on Friday night while at her family home in Multan, Punjab. After going on the run, her brother Waseem was later arrested. In his confession video, he expressed no regret. “I am proud of what I did. I drugged her first, then I killed her,” said Waseem.”She was bringing dishonor to our family.” Qandeel’s posts were considered to be controversial in Pakistan. She rose to fame…

No more silence on the abuse of children

No more silence on the abuse of children

By Shazia Hobbs   Where is the hashtag in solidarity for the Pakistani and Kashmiri children being raped here in the UK? I say Pakistani and Kashmiri because they are not necessarily the same — not all Pakistanis are from Kashmir and child rape occurs in both communities. You only need to follow Pakistani journalists, the ones who are living in Pakistan, on social media to hear of the horrors involving child rape in that country. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that importing huge numbers of people…

Transgender people in Pakistan: Demonisation of the ‘other’

Transgender people in Pakistan: Demonisation of the ‘other’

By Saima Baig   Transgender people have long been a part of the history of South Asia. Their stories are told in the Kama Sutra and they have existed in the Indian sub-continent for centuries. They were part of the courts of both Muslim and Hindu emperors and performed various spiritual and gender-liminal roles. Subsequently, while they were not openly ostracised by society, they tended to live on its edge, making their living by performing at functions, begging and as sex workers — but never as full members of the population with rights equal…

The ‘M-word’ that you’re not supposed to say out loud

The ‘M-word’ that you’re not supposed to say out loud

By Shamila Ghyas (This is a cross-post from The Nation )     Recently, students at Beaconhouse National University in Lahore protested against the stigmatisation of the ‘M word that should not be mentioned’ because it is supposedly every female’s dirty little secret. They used shock value to get their message across by sticking sanitary pads on a wall – each with a different message: “I am not flawed or poorly made” “Don’t hide me” Some girls even walked around with stains on their shirts.  One thing that everyone needs to understand is…

Pakistan’s Women: Honour and Shame

Pakistan’s Women: Honour and Shame

By Muna Adil   In February 2016, Pakistani filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy won her second Oscar award for ‘A Girl in the River’, her ground-breaking documentary on the practice of honour killings in Pakistan. A spectacular personal achievement for Chinoy, a proud moment for Pakistan, and an excellent opportunity for much-needed awareness and dialogue. But not everyone was delighted at the win. The morning after the Oscars, ‘#WeDisownSharmeen’ was trending in the number one spot on Pakistani Twitter. The crux of the argument against Chinoy was that she was ‘unpatriotic’ for…