Browsing "women"
Jul 22, 2010 - Porn, women    12 Comments

Pakistan, USA and Brazil, ek sath …

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A couple of years back I was in Europe for a few weeks and was with a large group of twenty something people. One of them was an American guy quite smitten with a Pakistani girl. One day, he was just so full of love (it was late in the evening and he has had a few drinks) he just went on and on about the “awesomeness” and “hotness” of Pakistani women and how tremendously besotted he is. Before coming to Europe, he had been to Brazil, another country that is famous for hot women but so love-struck was he about the Pakistani girl that he went on and said that Brazilian girls are not a patch on Pakistani girls (entirely his own opinion, I am sure Brazilian girls are super hot) and how he is coming to Pakistan during next vacations.
 Another Pakistani girl – yes, there was a third Pakistani girl in that group – and I laughed our heads off at the idea and thought up scenarios where this American guy would try to get fresh with random girls at Sea View Karachi or Jinnah Super Market and how would Mullah Fazlullah react to it (Fazlullah was big back in the day).
I have no idea how that love story turned out or if that guy ever visited Pakistan but I was reminded of him when I read that Pakistan is third after USA and Brazil in a survey of countries that view the most porn websites. This is the only time after that when Pakistan, Brazil and USA were mentioned in one sentence.
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Jul 7, 2010 - published work, Society, women    15 Comments

Being a woman in Pakistan

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It is not easy being a woman anywhere in the world but it is a tad more difficult being a woman in Pakistan. Last week, we saw two gang rape victims in headlines again for all the wrong reasons.
Mukhtaran Mai was reportedly threatened by a sitting MNA from treasury benches, Mr Jamshed Dasti, to settle the ‘dispute’ outside the court and let go of the criminals who have been sentenced earlier. For starters, it was not a mere dispute. It was a heinous crime, perpetrated against a helpless woman. The criminals were awarded punishment after a long probe yet the parliamentarian justifies defending them by saying that the court awarding the punishment were pressurised by anti-Islamic lobbies. Forget taking any serious action, the sad reality is that although the MNA is in contempt of court, neither the government, nor the opposition parties issued condemnation against his threats to a victim who has been battling it out for eight long years against all odds.
Kainat Soomro, a minor who was gang raped three years ago, is still fighting her case in the court of law. Her older brother, who was fighting the legal battle with her and was abducted three month ago, was found dead a few days back. The murder clearly was a message from the culprits to Kainat Soomro and her family that they too will face a similar fate if they do not take back the case.
Crimes against women are not exclusive to Pakistan, what makes them more painful and inhumane is lack of judicial recourse for the victims. There are no systems and procedures in place where women can access justice without spending a lifetime and fortune in courts, facing a multitude of threats and social ostracisation.
Aqsa Parvez was a high school student in Toronto who was murdered by her father and brother for not wearing a headscarf in 2007. Similar crimes go unpunished in Pakistan but not in a country where rule of law exists for all its citizens, including underage girls. The prosecution was taken up by the state and Aqsa’s father Muhammad Parvez and her brother Waqas Parvez, who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, were sentenced to life imprisonment, with no eligibility for parole until 2028.
Those who have seen Harry Potter films would be familiar with the character of Padma Patil, a witch at Hogwarts. The character was played by an actress of Pakistani origin Afshan Azad. A few weeks back, Afshan was beaten and throttled by her father and brother because she was heard talking on the phone with her Hindu boyfriend. Although they used violence against her, Afshan still loves her family and is pleading for violence charges to be dropped against her father and brother because she does not want them to go to jail. However the prosecution services in England takes these matters very seriously and intend to proceed with the case even if the victim retracts the statement.
Our penal code is inherited from the days of the Raj, if they can modernise the legal system and ensure that no pressure on the victims can retract criminal charges, so can we. If our laws had been friendlier to the victims, Kainat’s brother may still be alive. If we had sent better people to the assemblies and not people who openly flout the law and threaten rape victims, we may have been able to come up with better legislation. If we had better legislation, we may have made an example out of some criminals like Canadian courts did with Aqsa Parvez’s father and brother. If only.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 7th, 2010.
Apr 14, 2010 - religion, women    133 Comments

Dr Israr Ahmed and the haramzadi

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Even though I lived in Pakistan almost all my life, I actually got to know about Dr Israr Ahmed when I was in college in UK and Dr Shahid Masood shot his cringe inducing series ‘End of Time’. I came back home and discovered that one of our neighbours has joined his Tanzeem-e-Islami. All of a sudden his daughter who passed her O levels Economics paper because of my tuition has started avoiding me. When I asked, she said that her dad told her to stay away from me because I am foreign educated and my mind is filled with Western ideas and I may corrupt her hitherto unsoiled mind. Mind you, the only ideas I have tried to impart to her were always about indifference curve and use of derivation and quadratic equations in Economics, but I digress.

I then started digging a bit and found out that Dr Sahib, although denounced Jihad as called by Al Qaida and other militant organizations, was a fan of Mullah Omar and Taliban and was totally against co educational institutions of higher learning. He believed that if women cannot get education in separate institutions, they should not study at all. As we have bigger nutcases in the country who constantly make headlines, I never really bothered to get to know about him.

Earlier today I saw the news report that he passed away and then saw his face as facebook display picture of an acquaintance. When I asked her the reason of such display of affection, she told me that the good doctor had once called her haramzadi because he did not like what she was wearing and it was her way of paying respect. Apparently, my friend, a journalist and documentary film maker, was covering an MMA rally protesting the combined marathon in Lahore outside Karachi Press Club and Dr Israr Ahmed was there protesting alongside the MMA leadership. At that point, my friend was the only female journalist there with a camera and she was wearing a short sleeved top. First he refused to talk to her, but relented when she persisted and ended the conversation with a parting shot, “West ne haramzadi ka huliya badal diya hai.”
ویسٹ نے حرامزادی کا حلیہ بدل دیا ہے
Now I have been raised by mother to be ladylike and have been taught that one should not speak ill of the dead but I am still wondering that just because Doctor Sahib did not agree with her choice of clothing, he was entitled to call her names? Was that in any way justified or even civil? Was he promoting such levels of tolerance to his thousands of followers? Just wondering…

Addendum
As I have stopped fresh comments on this post, I was contacted – rather persistently – by a fan of Dr Israr to add this bit of info on my blog clearing his name. I still maintains that calling someone haramzadi in a public gathering, even if the said scholar was quoting an Akbar Allahabadi sher was in extremely bad taste and openly misogynist.
Here is the link to the “clarification

Feb 28, 2010 - rant, women    45 Comments

Desi men and pick up lines

There is something galactically wrong with Desi men when it comes to interaction with beautiful women they are not related to. Most men, in general, have not mastered the art of coming up with a perfect pick up line, but desi men take the cake in uttering the most inane and at times downright stupid pick up lines. I can actually write a whole book about nauseating lines I have heard in my lifetime but the latest one takes the cake.

There is a beautiful blonde woman I work with and she was down with flu. When she came back after the weekend, I asked her about the state of her health. While we were talking, there was an Indian gentleman (who was properly introduced to us earlier) eavesdropping on our conversation and after I left, he went up to her and inquired about her health. She thanked him for his concern said she was feeling much better. For lack of anything else to talk about but also wanting to hang on to the conversation, the Indian guy – out of nowhere – asked her if she was constipated. Seriously! I stopped dead in my tracks, turned around and looked at how was the girl responding? She, for obvious reasons, gave that guy a weird look, and walked on.

He actually was a normal person with no obvious stalker like tendencies but he managed to repel that girl is one minute straight. I mean seriously, what is wrong with desi men?

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Polygamy for the greater good

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There is an ancient Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times.” Whenever I read it, I always think that it must have been coined keeping Pakistan or Pakistan like situation in mind.
Last year with repeated shoe throwing incidents at Ghulam Arbab Rahim, former Chief Minister of Sind, I gave the verdict that Sind Assembly is the lamest legislation house in Pakistan where people indulge in brawling at no provocation. The image took a further nosedive when MQM MPAs in the assembly expressed grief by commemorating a moment of silence at the death of Michael Jackson. I mean we all loved good ol’ MJ and I am sure Mr. Faisal Sabzwari must have grooved to ‘Thriller’ in his younger days, but I was kinda lost and failed to make the connection between Sind Assembly and MJ. But of late, Punjab Assembly has dethroned Sind Assembly as the legislative body where all the moronic, dense and dim witted good for nothing publicity whores gather and talk nonsense at the tax payers’ expense.
A few weeks back, a PML – Q MPA, Ms. Samina Khawer Hayat has decided to straighten the youth of Pakistan by proposing a bill on putting a ban on all the late night cell phone packages across Punjab. According to her, the young boys and girls are wasting their time chatting and texting with each other which is not only bad for their academic grades but is also deemed un-Islamic. She blamed the cell phone companies for the moral degradation of youth by keeping the phone charges so affordable. The best way to deal with the issue was to keep the cell phone charges out of purchasing power of the younger Pakistanis. Needless to say, Ms. Hayat got prime time coverage and was interviewed by many news channels with nothing better on their agendas. A day before the bill was proposed, no one apart from Ms. Hayat’s three children knew or cared about her and all of a sudden, she became the woman who would affect not only millions of young and not so young Pakistanis who call their friends and family late at night, but also the profit margins of perhaps the only successful and commercially viable sector in Pakistan.
Now, Ms. Hayat had tasted blood and she was like this vampire who needed a constant fix to feed into her yearning for more fame, prime time TV spots and front page newspaper headlines. The next thing we knew, she totally hijacked the bill proposed by her colleague Sheikh Allauddin, when she came out and said that men can and should marry a second, a third and a fourth time without the consent of their first wife. While presenting her precious views in favour of polygamy, Ms. Hayat said:

“If there is no bar on them marrying again, all of men’s frustrations would be reduced, while women would be able to salvage their honour and lead secure lives.”

Now call me extremely thick , but if all these men are already married to super women like Ms. Hayat herself, then why in the God’s name are they still so bloody frustrated? Secondly, if there are so many single unmarried women around, why are they not frustrated? Is sexual frustration a male domain only? Are all unmarried women without honour which they can only salvage or reclaim after becoming someone’s second, third or fourth wife? What kind of society have we become where the only course of security for a single woman is to become someone‘s second, third or fourth wife. I guess in Ms. Hayat’s esteemed opinion, the state that has repeatedly failed to provide security to its female population can only go forward by promoting some seriously misogynist legislation.
Like I mentioned earlier, Punjab Assembly has managed to congregate all the idiots par excellence so most treasury members endorsed Hayat’s demand and appreciated her ‘bold’ stance on the issue. Sheikh Allaudin and Maulana Ilyas Chinnioti and Amina Buttar termed her suggestion “ideal”. I was not present there but I am sure that Maulana Chinioti must have been salivating when he said that Hayat had ‘voiced the wishes of Muslim women’.
While there are people who are hoping that Samina Khawar Hayat’s husband marry three more women without her permission ASAP and some are envious of her husband as she has so generously bestowed her husband with the permission to seek wife number 2, 3 & 4, I will only share her contact details.
Those of you who either want to praise Ms. Samina Khawar Hayat or call her names can do so by texting or calling at her cell number 0300-8030786. This is my public service of the day.


I don’t know about the others, but we are seriously living the Chinese curse.

Apr 10, 2009 - women    45 Comments

Where is the man of the house?

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I happen to spend the better part of last week in a hospital. No, I am still alive with all body parts intact but abba (my father) was not doing too well and had to stay in the hospital under the vigilant eyes of the doctors and the nursing staff.

Apart from keeping an eye on my dad and his blood pressure and blood sugar levels, the staff at the hospital showed keen interest in everything I did. For instance, every single nurse on the floor wanted to know what I do and why I do it, why I keep working on my laptop and constantly order people through my cell phone (most of the calls were to the maid at home, I don’t have a lot of people working under me and as a rule, I don’t order people around), whether I am married and why am I not married, if I had any other siblings who can take care of my dad and why in the God’s name I am doing all the running around, why cant men in my family take over and let me be the little woman I should have been in the first place. I was quite surprised by this reaction.

Quite obviously, the man of the house was ill and could not have done all the running around. Secondly, I seriously did not expect it from a bunch of professional women. They all do their jobs diligently and earn their living with extremely difficult and hard work yet they have this idea that a woman is not suppose to be making difficult decisions and should not be running around. What kind of indoctrination these girls must have had that years of schooling (I would rather not use the word education), exposure and financial independence did not do much to bring about a change in the way a woman’s role is perceived?

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Mar 6, 2009 - women    99 Comments

Subliminal mindfuck

Just when you think that you are jaded beyond imagination and you have seen it all, people in the land of pure would come up with something more shocking that will make you forget the good, the bad and the downright ugly from your past. With the arrival of Woman’s day, a group which calls itself ‘Women and Family Commission’ has put up some banners on the streets of Karachi. The message in those banners is subversive and it calls for women to NOT work and stay at home. One of the banners says that the quota for women’s employment is tantamount to increasing the number of children who will spend their days without their mother’s attention. Another one says that 50% quota in jobs for women is infringement of men’s rights and my personal favorite is the last one which says, employment is not the solution to the problems of women.

The subliminal message of the banner is that women need not to work, it will not solve their problems and they are actually infringing upon the rights of male members of society by leaving their homes and seeking gainful employment. The message also piles up the guilt on the mothers who leave their children behind to work that their children are being raised motherless. This hidden message is more lethal than open objection to movement and liberty of women as it guilts them into staying at home for their children.

I request the City Government of Karachi in general and Naib Nazima (Deputy Mayor) who is a working woman, in particular, to get these banners removed as soon as possible.


Pictures taken at Do Talwar, Clifton, Karachi

Dec 18, 2008 - romance, women    31 Comments

My knight in shining Corvette

Scottish professors have just confirmed what I have always known; watching romantic comedies can spoil your love life, in my case, it can extinguish the love life before it even begins.

Researchers at the Family and Personal Relationships Laboratory at Heriot Watt University in Scotland have concluded that romantic films ruin romance for real life lovers. Films such as Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill give people the idea of unrealistic love and huge expectations.

Psychologists at the family and personal relationships laboratory at the university studied 40 top box office hits between 1995 and 2005, and identified common themes which they believed were unrealistic.

The movies included You’ve Got Mail, Maid In Manhattan, The Wedding Planner and While You Were Sleeping.

The university’s Dr Bjarne Holmes said: “Marriage counsellors often see couples who believe that sex should always be perfect, and if someone is meant to be with you then they will know what you want without you needing to communicate it.”
“We now have some emerging evidence that suggests popular media play a role in perpetuating these ideas in people’s minds.”

I have actually known a girl who has watched Love Story 26 times and she took it for granted that her university would be filled with rich good looking replicas of Ryan O’Neal. The only rich and handsome guy in her class was the son of local landlord and he had already run through a wife when she met him.

But not all romantic films are a waste, at least I think that way. Remember About a Boy, that was the only decent Hugh Grant film where his bumbling and fumbling ways were actually charming and despite the ultra corny “You complete me” and ‘You had me at hello”; Jerry Maguire presented a romance as real as it can be in a romantic comedy, complete with first awkward date, confused marriage, trial separation and a not so beautiful kid.

We all know that romcoms are not for real, but we still tend to believe that we might be the lucky ones who will end up with their own fairytals, but not every girl is modern day Cinderella of Pretty Women whose knight came charging in a shinning white Cadillac to rescue her; mere mortals have to work their asses off on a relationship provided they can find somebody half decent.

If I happen to find a knight, I would want him come charging in a shining Corvette.

PS: I think this blog is being over run by Colin Firth images.


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Nov 13, 2008 - Tina Fey, women    16 Comments

How Tina Fey saved me from irreversible brain damage

Watching TV is painful. As a rule, I don’t watch much TV, but one do lapse into the mindlessness of it from time to time and then live to regret it.

Last week, I saw TV for about half an hour and lost it – completely. I caught one of the episodes of a soap on one of the local channels. It had a domestic servant who was first harassed by the younger son of her employers and then later raped by the older son. Because she was a lowly employee, she kept quiet and did not tell anyone about the crime. There was another track where they showed a mafia boss having hots for a middle class behenji type working girl. Instead of befriending the girl, he sent his mom with rishta (formal proposal of marriage) to the girl’s mom and threatened her on the side, that if she refused to marry him, bad things will happen to her family. How did her family reacted to it, instead of reporting the incident to police or something, the daddy asked the girl to quit her job and stay at home otherwise people will talk?

What subliminal message did this half an hour long episode convey, that it is easy to push women around, whether they are illiterate domestic servants or educated and financially independent girls. Men are licensed from God/society/law/whatever to harass/stalk/rape women and they will get away. After all, what rights do second class citizens have, NONE.

I was so annoyed after watching that soap, I wrote a page long letter and emailed it to the channel that was airing it and copied it to at least 4 women rights organizations. I got a letter of thanks from one of them and they said they will take up the matters with the said TV channel. Irony was, the soap was named ‘Tair-e-lahooti’ which literally translates in to ‘a bird with limitless flight’.

I switched channels and saw discovery doing a crazy scientific study about which part of body hurts most when it is pinched and I was like WTF? I was so fascinated with grown men doing ‘ooh’, ‘aah’ and ‘ouch’ after every pinch that I watched it till the end. Apparently, the back of human arms is the most sensitive area. So if you want to pinch someone really hard, aim for the back of their arms.

Among all that crappy TV, I stumbled upon good ol’ Liz Lemon at her old address (30 Rock) and what a relief it was. Where else do you get dialogues like ‘Hugging is so ethnic’ and ‘you are choosing a sandwich over a guy, that’s less cliched’ to a boss who is as adorably insufferable and screwed up as Jack Donaghy.

Here is an exchange between Jack and Liz that reminded me of … me.

Jack: So what are you gonna do with your money? Put it into a 401K?
Liz: Yeah, I gotta get one of those.
Jack: What?! Where do you invest your money, Lemon?
Liz: I’ve got like twelve grand in checking.
Jack: Are you an immigrant?

Believe me, I have had one of these conversations, and I don’t even have the excuse of being an immigrant. The only difference is that the guy I was talking to was not as fat, old or fabulous as Alec Baldwin and I probably would have a lot less than US$12,000 in my checking account.

The reason I love Tina is that she made edgy neurotic acceptable. Take Liz Lemon, her character in ’30 Rock’ is as real as it can get in network television. She strives to be a better, more honorable, more down-to-earth person and gets diverted by her own shallow, petty urges. She knows who she is and occasionally tries to assert that her rather mundane desires and limitations are perfectly acceptable. She wants a husband, sure, but she doesn’t want anyone to be the boss of her. She wants to get ahead at work, yes, but she also wants to skip work and watch a rented movie in bed. She has made it absolutely normal for women to be single at 37, wear glasses, eat Chinese food out of take away box, attract losers or conflicted people, work with losers or conflicted people and deal with a boss whose ego is as gigantic as Grand Canyon, and still be friends with him. The best thing about Tina Fey is that she can be screwed up and likeable at the same time without being over the top, unlike the clinging, coy and clamoring for attention Jennifer Aniston in Friends.

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Oct 23, 2008 - women    26 Comments

The sound of music

After detailing crappy stories about life amidst religious fanaticism in Pakistan, I am happy to report that Pakistani music scene is looking bright for female musicians and there are a couple of musical associations that are especially notice worthy.

On the repeat mode on my iPod these days is Saba and Selina’s live rendition of their romantic number ‘I am in Love’. Apart from foot tapping music and their amazing vocals, what I like most about this song is the progressive lyrics. In Pakistani romantic music, it is always a male that actively seek/pursue love and women generally tend to follow them. This song is an unabashed declaration of love from a woman who says, “I am in love, I am believer and I couldn’t leave him if try.” Not the regular fare in desi music and extremely refreshing. Kudos to the girls.

Haniya and Zeb are the other two musicians who are making their mark in the music industry and they are pretty good at live performances as well. Apart from making songs in Urdu, they are the first female musicians who are doing rock music with Pashto lyrics; amazing, isn’t it. They have just shot their first video ‘Aitebaar’ which has used dance as a metaphor for love, it’s an excellent video, enjoy …

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