On Sexual Violence and Media Portrayal in Pakistan

Years ago, loose gravel on a trail up Margalla Hills landed me in the emergency room with a sprained ankle.  All I remember at the time was the excruciating pain radiating from my ankle and worrying if it was broken and whether I'd be able catch a plane on time to return to university.  My mother and I were waiting for the doctor to finally see us when we heard a commotion in the main foyer.  A muffled siren could be heard just outside and medical personnel whizzed by us, yelling orders, but ev … [Read more...]

Burka Avenger: Lady in Black

Image from the Burka Avenger website.

When I wear hijab, I find that the average Pakistani takes me a lot more seriously.  Vendors at farmer's markets don't over charge me for being a “valaithi” (foreigner); the guy at the pharmacy limits eye contact and listens politely while I discuss the pros and cons of generic versus brand medications.  I get fewer curious stares and far less incidences of “accidental” brush-ups when maneuvering crowded streets.  Even match-making mamas are impressed by my modesty (not my age, but that's another … [Read more...]

And Just Maybe, It’s Eid

Writing this as Eid approaches, I'm reminded of all the different ways people might experience this occasion.  This post is my way of showcasing such varying experiences.  Each short story below is told from the point of view of a member of a household.  I hope you enjoy them. Eid Mubarak!Heels.  For Tanzi, Eid is all about a pair of strappy, silver heels.  They sit nestled in the corner of Baji's almari, covered in a layer of forgotten dust.  There's a tear to one of the straps and the heel … [Read more...]

Book Review: The Honey Thief

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 “When I sleep, I dream like a Hazara” (The Honey Thief, p. 6). The Honey Thief is a successful collaboration between authors Najaf Mazari and Robert Hillman, featuring a host of interesting characters and places from Mazari's native Afghanistan.  Winner of the 2005 Australian National Biography Award, Hillman came on board initially to  co-author Mazari's personal story in The Rug Maker of Mazar-e-Sharif.  Their first collaboration together describes Mazari's escape from imminent persecution at … [Read more...]

Saudi Women at the Helm: Beneficiaries of the Arab Spring

A Saudi ad against domestic abuse. [Source].

For the past two years, sweeping political changes in parts of the Middle East have had a profound impact on socio-cultural and legal traditions. Arab women have been at the forefront of this change, exercising their rights as political citizens and raising their voices against injustices within their own countries and in support of others across the region. Recent developments, however, suggest that while the Gulf states (excluding Bahrain) have remained largely untouched by revolutionary … [Read more...]

A Woman’s Quiet Revolution: An Interview with Journalist Zubeida Mustafa

US-JOURNALISTS-AWARDS

Several weeks ago, I wrote a brief profile on Zubeida Mustafa, recipient of this year's Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Women's Media Foundation (IWMF).  My initial coverage of Mustafa's achievements was based on snippets I had read from a number of profiles online.  Since then, however, I have had the unique privilege of interviewing her on behalf of Muslimah Media Watch.  Although much of our conversation took place on email and telephone (she resides in the south of the co … [Read more...]

Women and the Talibanization of Shrines in India

The Haji Ali Dargah. Image via Wikipedia.

Every year, millions of visitors undertake pilgrimages to religious shrines dedicated to Sufi saints.  The Indian sub-continent in particular is home to several such mausoleums.  Women and men from various ethnic groups and religious denominations visit the shrine(s) and pray, often finding solace in the presence of a blessed personality.  Many undertake visits in hopes of having their most fervent prayers answered, placing garlands or perfumed cloth over the burial mound out of respect and re … [Read more...]


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