Normalising the hijab

Normalising the hijab

By Arshia Malik There was recently a news report about Nike unveiling modest sportswear range – the Nike Pro Hijab . I recalled when we first got a male professional coach for basketball in 1988 and the all girls’ school team was being put together. Being the athlete that I was, I of course signed up and started looking for the usual: shorts; skirts; trainers and T-shirts — a requirement on the court. Gradually, the realisation that this was Srinagar and not New Delhi dawned as the first impediments to a normal,…

Why Aren’t Women Taking Control of Their Lives?

Why Aren’t Women Taking Control of Their Lives?

By Faiza Yousaf The way I started living life changed a lot post-divorce. Ironically, I gained freedom in more ways than one. Other than the most obvious — freedom from a bad marriage — I also started living life in a way I should have a long time ago. The pivotal moment came for me when I decided I wanted to travel more and secondly undertake some aid work. Like most people, I fancied a partner in crime so waited around to see who would be free to join me….

The Mystery Woman

The Mystery Woman

By Jimmy Bangash   There was this time when I was younger and lived at home. I think I was 12 or 13 or 14, or thereabouts. Dad brought this woman home. She came to live with us for a while. She was from Pakistan, about my mum’s age, and spoke the same language. I didn’t understand why she came to live with us so I asked dad and he said she was there to help mum with the house work and he would be paying her. We were a…

From West to East

From West to East

By Jimmy Bangash   For honour for glory! Amidst Scottish highlands Kilts and the thistle Adorn this brave band   For honour for glory! We strap on our swords Our archers are ready Our steeds battle worn   For Kingdom and Country We give forth our sons Their spears are levelled Their futures undone   Our battle horn sounds The steeds gallop forth Arrows fly passed us And sing to the north   Spears pierce throats Blood curdling screams Seconds turn durée For hours it seems   For honour for…

Dupatta

Dupatta

By Jimmy Bangash   Dupatta   I stand within the kitchen gazing up to watch my mother As she places back the huge black dustbin lid; having taken out a bowl of flour. White snow upon winter lands captured in her hands. She smiles down at me as I wait in anticipation. Then she begins; as she kneads the dough; a low hum in an octave so angelic telling tales of distant lands in languages I cannot speak And I smile. And I try to catch her tune with my…

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…

Why is Sesame Street’s New Afghan Muppet wearing a headscarf?

Why is Sesame Street’s New Afghan Muppet wearing a headscarf?

By Samar Esapzai This is a cross-post   I have always loved Sesame Street. It was the only children’s show, along with Fraggle Rock, that I eagerly watched as a little girl while growing up in Saudi Arabia. I especially love how culturally diverse the show is and how, through multicultural elements, it aims to teach young children the value of mutual acceptance and cross-cultural friendships. In a nutshell, the show is perfect in all aspects of what a children’s show is supposed to entail. So it did not come…