Titillate us, entertain us, even educate us, but please, don’t talk about rights

Women Protest Qandeel murder

Women and men in Peshawar protest Qandeel Baloch’s murder. Photo via Javed Aziz Khan

Pakistani model and social media icon Qandeel Baloch rocked the boat with outrageous antics like offering to strip if Shahid Afridi led the Pakistan cricket team to victory against India in the T20 match a few months ago. Yesterday, her brother in Multan strangled her to death in apparently because she was bringing a bad name to the family — a family she financially supported. Continue reading

Stifling dissent in Southasia

I earlier posted about resistance to the stifling of dissent in India, and why as a Pakistani it matters to me. The trend is visible in other parts of Southasia too, including of course Pakistan about which I’ve written a fair amount. Here’s an update from Bangladesh, where defamation, sedition cases and the attempts to silence the independent media are underway, as well as Chattisgarh, India.

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Smiles and sedition. Photo: Andrew Biraj, Reuters

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From India with love: Tribute to Hassam , Friend and Human Rights Activist from Pakistan

"You were the steady hand, now we must learn to fight the pain" - Haris Gazdar

“You were the steady hand, now we must learn to fight the pain” – Haris Gazdar

A moving and beautiful tribute to Hassam Qadir Shah, advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, a principled human rights lawyer and decent human being with a million dollar smile and gentle manner, married to the filmmaker Aisha Gazdar. Thank you Kamayani for writing this #RIP – Tribute to Hassam , Friend and Human Rights Activist from Pakistan. Here’s a link to Hassam’s seminal booklet on criminal procedures, in easy to read Q&A format about gender violence in Pakistan, “There is no ‘honour’ in Killing – Don’t Let them Get Away with Murder’ (Shirkat Gah, 2002)

We must move beyond outrage against selected rape cases

Protest at India Gate against gang rape in Delhi. TOI photo

Protest at India Gate against gang rape in Delhi. TOI photo

Grieved to hear that the student who was gangraped in a Delhi bus has passed away in the Singapore hospital where she was flown for treatment. And about the teenage gangrape victim in Patiala who committed suicide – one of countless, not just in India but elsewhere in Southasia. And the 42 year old woman. And the two girls – minors – in Umerkot, Sindh who were raped. And that a woman is raped every 22 minutes in India – I don’t know what the rate is in other South Asian countries, but doubt it’s much better elsewhere. But will the outrage at the “Delhi Gang Rape case” and the victim’s death change things for women in our part of the world – not just in urban but in rural areas, not just for women? And for those, including minor girls and boys, who are routinely subjected to sexual abuse, not only by strangers and security forces, but most often by family friends and relatives? And for the countless who are subjected to ‘revenge rapes’ or forced to marry their rapists or exchange girls and women for peace? We need to move beyond outrage at selected cases and work towards changing attitudes, not just of of society but of law enforcing agencies and courts that shame victims more than perpetrators.

Iqbal Haider, we’ll miss your ‘groove’

Iqbal Haider: A firm believer in secular values.

 My article for The News on Sunday, Nov 18, 2012 – in which I forgot to mention the resolution Iqbal Haider tried to get the Senate to pass against the cold-blooded murder of young Saima Sarwar in the office of Hina Jillani at the behest of her own parents, simply because she wanted a divorce from her abusive husband. Some senators from FATA physically attacked him for it (See my article ‘There is no ‘honour’ in killing).

 Beena Sarwar

The protests outside Karachi Press Club will be all the poorer without Senator Syed Iqbal Haider’s energising presence. Activists promoting any good cause could count on him to be there — whether it was justice for Mukhtaran Mai, protest against Shia killings, or a call for peace between India and Pakistan. 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

Rinkle Kumari: A Test Case for Jinnah’s Pakistan (Updated)

Marvi Sirmed raises some critical questions about the complex case of Rinkle Kumari, with a timeline of the case, on her blog Rinkle Kumari: A Test Case for Jinnah’s Pakistan (Updated).

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