‘Not just India’s daughter’ – article for TNS Special Report

Jyoti Singh’s death has become a global symbol and the beginning of change. Here’s hoping she did not die in vain… ‘Not just India’s daughter‘: My article for The News on Sunday Special Report on the issue

Not just India’s daughter

India has been under the spotlight for the rape and gender violence since the horrific gang rape in Delhi on December 16, 2012. That night, a 23-year-old physiotherapist on her way home from the movies with a male friend was brutally gang-raped by six men in a moving bus in the national capital. She died of her injuries on December 29, 2012. Her friend who tried to save her was also brutally beaten but survived.

The BBC documentary, ‘India’s Daughter’ following up on a rape that shook not just India but the world, and the Indian government’s subsequent ban on the film has re-ignited hot debate on an issue that is relevant to far more than just India or India’s daughters. Continue reading

Three good causes: help save a life; contribute to free medical camps; donate-a-goat

17-yr old Allahdin from Mithi, Tharparkar in hospital in Karachi. Photo: Wahid Khairi

17-yr old Allahdin from Mithi, Tharparkar at hospital in Karachi. Photo: Wahid Khairi

Sharing three appeals for help here from people I trust,  for those who would like to get involved or contribute in some way to any of these worthwhile causes:

Continue reading

Pakistan/India: There is no honour in killing… End the culture of impunity

HK-Iqbal - Farzana pic

Iqbal holds up a picture of his wife, Farzana Parveen, killed outside the Lahore High Court. Photo: Aamir Qureshi/AFP/Getty Images

On the murder of Farzana Parveen in Pakistan and the two Dalit girls in India – something I wrote last week, published in The News and in The Times of India blog

There is no honour in killing

End the culture of impunity

Beena Sarwar

Last Tuesday, May 27, two crimes that shocked the world took place, one in the morning in Lahore, Pakistan and the other at night in Uttar Pradesh, India. Three young women – two of them just girls, really, were killed in these incidents. A fourth casualty was the unborn child of the five months pregnant woman in Pakistan. Continue reading

The need for a uniform civil code

60-year-old Shah Bano went to court seeking maintenance from her husband who had divorced her. The court ruled in her favour - maintenance from her ex-husband under Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code with an upper limit of Rs. 500 a month. This was not the first such judgment granting a divorced Muslim woman maintenance under Section 125 like all Indian women. But the orthodox lobby termed the verdict an attack on Islam.

When a court in India ruled in favour of 60-year-old Shah Bano, granting her maintenance (under Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code with an upper limit of Rs. 500 a month) from her ex-husband who had divorced her, it was not the first such judgment granting a divorced Muslim woman maintenance under Section 125 like all Indian women. But the orthodox lobby termed the verdict an attack on Islam.

Received the following note via email from Justice Katju in New Delhi, posted below. He has also posted it to his blog.

Uniform Civil Code

The refusal to modernise Muslim law or enact a common civil code has contributed to keeping Muslims backward in India, and has thus done great harm to Muslims

By Justice Markandey Katju

The issue of a uniform civil code has recently been raised. I am fully in support of a uniform civil code.

Article 44 of the Indian Constitution states : “The state shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India”. Continue reading

The Orangi Pilot Project and Legacy of Architect Perween Rehman @ MIT

Arif Hasan: Architect with ethics

Arif Hasan and Perween Rehman: Architects with ethics

Parveen Rehman, photo by Steve Inskeep, NPR

Perween Rehman, photo by Steve Inskeep, NPR

 An abbreviated version of my article on the symposium held at MIT to commemorate Perween Rehman and her legacy was published in The News on Sunday last weekend, titled Commitment personified. Below, the full text with additional links and photos:  

Speakers at a symposium in the Boston area last week, on “The Orangi Pilot Project and Legacy of Architect Perween Rehmanpaid tribute to the late architect and OPP director, as “a woman, architect and social activist”. They also discussed parallels between the issues faced by the urban poor in and elsewhere. Hosted by the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the symposium featured prominent academics from India, Pakistan and the United States. The event, spearheaded by graduate students Fizzah Sajjad and Hala B. Malik from Lahore, had been in the planning soon after the murder of Perween Rehman in Karachi on March 13, 2013. Continue reading

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

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