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…

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…

Female Genital Mutilation: Pakistan’s well-kept secret

Female Genital Mutilation: Pakistan’s well-kept secret

By Saima Baig   (This is a cross-post from The Nation)   On May 5, Nigeria took the historical step of outlawing Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), and its outgoing President, Goodluck Jonathan, signed the ban as one of his last acts before leaving office. According to the UN, one quarter of Nigerian women and girls have been subjected to FGM, a vile and misogynistic practice that creates many health issues for women. Globally more than 125 million girls and women are affected by this practice, which was banned by the…

After Asad Shah’s murder solidarity must extend to reformist Muslims

After Asad Shah’s murder solidarity must extend to reformist Muslims

By Rasool Bibi The brutal murder of Asad Shah of Shawlands, Glasgow, on Good Friday has shocked us all.  All those who knew him or even encountered him in his shop talk of a peaceful, loving man.  Even those who did not know him, having read the tributes, feel deep sorrow and a loss. Hours before the terrifying attack that led to his death, Mr Shah had gone on Facebook to wish his “beloved Christian nation” a “Happy Easter”. Mr Shah had been repeatedly stabbed and stamped on, an indicator…

Terror attacks in Lahore

Terror attacks in Lahore

By Iram Ramzan   There is a phrase in Punjabi, which roughly translates as, “The one who has not yet seen Lahore, has not been born.” I certainly felt alive whenever I visited this vibrant capital city of the Punjab in Pakistan. In the past, I have visited my grandparents’ village in Kashmir several times. There was nothing to do, nothing to see, no one with whom I could speak . I felt suffocated, itching for the chance to get out of there as soon as I could. That feeling of misery and boredom would…

The best legacy we can leave Asad Shah is to take sectarian hate crime seriously

The best legacy we can leave Asad Shah is to take sectarian hate crime seriously

By Tehmina Kazi   “Good Friday and a very Happy Easter, especially to my beloved Christian nation.”   These were the last words of Glaswegian newsagent Asad Shah on his Facebook page, posted on March 24, 2016. Just hours later, this hugely popular man, an Ahmadi Muslim, was brutally attacked. Found outside his shop with multiple injuries, he later died in hospital. The suspect is alleged to have stabbed Mr Shah multiple times, and stamped on his head. A 32-year-old man was arrested in connection with Mr Shah’s death, and…

Brussels attacks: The responsibility to counter jihadism lies with us Muslims

Brussels attacks: The responsibility to counter jihadism lies with us Muslims

By Shamila Ghyas   This is a cross-post from The Nation   Another day, another blast. More innocent deaths.   At least 34 people were killed after explosions ripped through Brussels airport and metro station. With over a 100 injured, many critically; the toll number is expected to rise. Eyewitnesses say that after hearing the loud boom, they were literally blown back by its force. There was a lot of blood in the elevators as ceilings started to collapse in the affected areas. Just imagine you are at the airport…