Afridi’s googly and CII’s no ball

Afridi kitchenUpdated version of my PERSONAL POLITICAL column published in The News op-ed and TOI blogs on Friday

Beena Sarwar

Shahid Afridi’s googly lobbed at women’s cricket in Pakistan in an interview, dismissing women as just good cooks, went viral on social media over the past few days.

And recently, the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) decreed that Pakistani laws that prohibit under-age marriage and place conditions on a married man’s attempts to take another wife are ‘un-Islamic’.

Ostensibly very different, both stem from the same patriarchal mind-set that sees women as inferior to men, justifying itself by invoking religion or cultural traditions. Continue reading

Pakistani Women Hit Hurdles in Medical Profession

Left to right, medical student Saima Firdous, Dr Jamila Khalil, Sarah Peck, Dr Khalil Khatri Credit: Beena Sarwar

Left to right, medical student Saima Firdous, Dr Jamila Khalil, Sarah Peck, Dr Khalil Khatri. Photos: Beena Sarwar

My report for Inter Press Service, March 8, 2014. Picked up by newspapers around the world – I like the headline Asia Times gave it: Women doctors say what ails Pakistan

BOSTON, United States, Mar 8 2014 (IPS) - On one of her many visits to Pakistan recently, Sarah Peck, director of the US-Pakistan Women’s Council, spent some time talking to young women medical students in Pakistan. She was struck by their passion and commitment — and by the hurdles they face.

The US-Pakistan Women’s Council is working with expatriate Pakistani doctors to find ways to encourage women qualifying as doctors in Pakistan to practice medicine.

Women outnumber male students in medical colleges across Pakistan, forming up to 85 percent of the student body in private universities and 65 percent in the public sector. Continue reading

The February 12 pledge, terrorism, and the Malala connection

Lahore, Feb 12, 1983: Police lathi charge demonstrators. Photo: Rahat Ali Dar

Lahore, Feb 12, 1983: Police lathi charge demonstrators. Photo: Rahat Ali Dar

The News published a slightly toned down version of my article, The Feb 12 pledge. Un-edited text below, followed by a postscript linking this struggle to Malala. More photos at this link.

Renewing the Feb 12 pledge

By Beena Sarwar

Every February 12 we commemorate Pakistan Women’s Day in honour of those who gathered at Lahore’s Regal Chowk on that day in 1983, defying the military order against public gatherings, to protest Gen. Zia’s ‘Law of Evidence’ that upheld the testimony of a male as equal to that of two females in a court of law. The police attacked the demonstrators with batons and arrested several, including the venerated poet Habib Jalib whom Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif is fond of quoting. Continue reading

‘My years with WAF’ – Zohra Yusuf on the Pakistani women’s movement

Below, an article by Zohra Yusuf, my first editor, with whom I worked at The Star Weekend in 1981-82, outlining the birth of the women’s movement in Pakistan

Lahore, Feb 12, 1983: Police brutality on the women's demonstration against the 'Law of Evidence' catapulted the nascent women's movement into the limelight. Photo: Rahat Ali Dar

Lahore, Feb 12, 1983: Police brutality on the women’s demonstration against the ‘Law of Evidence’ catapulted the nascent women’s movement into the limelight. Photo: Rahat Ali Dar

“My years with WAF” 

By Zohra Yusuf | Article written for a souvenir on WAF’s 25th anniversary, Oct 2006

Certain memories are etched on the mind. The birth of Women’s Action Forum is, for me, surely among them. It was on an afternoon in September 1981 that Aban Marker (Shirkatgah) called. She told me about the distressed call she had just received from Najma Sadeque (another SG founding member) regarding the case of Fehmida-Allah Bux. Pakistan’s first sentence of death by stoning and public whipping handed down to a couple under the Zina Ordinance of 1979. We had all read about the sentence and in our individual capacities felt deeply disturbed. After a bit of discussion, we decided to call a meeting of all women’s organizations at Aban’s place. The rest, as they say, is history. Continue reading

beenasarwar:

It’s not just India… 

Originally posted on nilanjana roy:

(Photograph: Ruchir Joshi)

(Photograph: Ruchir Joshi)

That girl, the one without the name. The one just like us. The one whose battered body stood for all the anonymous women in this country whose rapes and deaths are a footnote in the left-hand column of the newspaper.

Sometimes, when we talk about the history of women in India, we speak in shorthand. The Mathura rape case. The Vishaka guidelines. The Bhanwari Devi case, the Suryanelli affair, the Soni Sori allegations, the business at Kunan Pushpora. Each of these, the names of women and places, mapping a geography of pain; unspeakable damage inflicted on women’s bodies, on the map of India, where you can, if you want, create a constantly updating map of violence against women.

For some, amnesia becomes a way of self-defence: there is only so much darkness you can swallow. They turn away from all the places that have become shorthand for…

View original 881 more words

V-Day and One Billion Rising

Gender-based violence has been recognised as a global epidemic for years (see Unicef press release of 2000). And yet the phenomenon continues.

What can we do? Each of us has a voice. Let’s use it. Check out the One Billion Rising website:

Screenshot of OBR website, Dec 29, 2012

Screenshot of OBR website, Dec 29, 2012

Join V-Day on 02.14.13 in a global strike to demand an end to violence.

Feb 14, 2013 is the 15th Anniversary of V-Day, the non-profit that began using The Vagina Monologues  the ground-breaking play by Eve Ensler to raise awareness and money to end violence against women. Continue reading

Nov 10: Malala Day – and poems for Malala (and her father)

“I am Malala” – see UN Education Envoy website for details on this campaign and how you can get involved – http://educationenvoy.org/

With the world commemorating November 10 as ‘Malala Day’ (see the inspiring video at this linkin honour of Pakistani child activist Malala Yousafzai, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon extended his support to the young girl and her fight for education, describing her as the “global symbol” of every girl’s right to an education. This is a good occasion to share three poems (Persian and Hindi) I received recently: 1. ‘The Street of the Teenager of Fourteen”, by Nahid Kabiri, 2. “Who is this Ziauddin Yusufzai” by Pratap Somvanshi, 3. “Nanhe Haath Malala” by Pankaj Nigam, with translations,  in addition to the Urdu poem earlier shared on this blog, Malala’s Response: Dekh Zinda HooN Mein. Continue reading

One Billion Rising: Global campaign against violence against women

Eve Ensler, founder of the One Billion Rising movement. Photograph: Martin Argles for the Guardian.

The well known feminist activist, playwright and actor Eve Ensler has given a call for One Billion Rising campaign that aims to mobilise and bring out one billion people on streets across the world on February 14th, 2013 against violence against women, and in celebration of women’s power (One Billion Rising on Facebook).

Noted women activists from all over South Asia, including Kamla Bhasin of Sangat, OBR’s South Asian coordinator, were at the launch in Nepal. (Photo: WFS)

This, writes Ensler, “is a call to the billion women who have been violated and the men who love them, to the women who have been beaten and raped and mutilated and burned and sold and who know the destruction of the female species heralds the end of human kind. A call to walk out of your homes, your jobs, your schools and find your friends, your group, your place and music and dance” (‘One Billion Rising: Together we can end violence against women’, op-ed in The Guardian). Continue reading

Dekh zindha hoon mein – Malala’s response – A poem

A poem for Malala by Shariq Ali, received via email, copied below in Roman Urdu and transcribed in Urdu Nastaleeq script, with English translation, by Ali Jafari, son of the well known satirical poet S. M. Jafari
Continue reading

Malala Yousufzai – Some updates

Demo for Malala in Mumbai earlier this week

Adapted from the post I sent to my Yahoogroup a little while ago:

No point repeating what happened a week ago in Swat, when Taliban shot Malala Yusufzai, the 14-year old school girl who has been speaking out courageously for the right of girls to be educated, supported by her equally brave father, Ziauddin Yusufzai, principal of the school she was studying at.

Malala was already a hero to many. Now she has become a worldwide symbol of the right of girls to education, as well as of resistance to the Taliban. In this, she represents millions of Pakistanis – and world citizens. Her friend Kainat who was also injured, told CNN from her hospital bed that she hoped to continue her education and that Malala would come back and join her schoolmates soon. “I want to tell all the girls to continue their mission to get an education,” she said. Continue reading

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