Category Archives: Law & Order

Gender rights

By Zubeida Mustafa

IT goes to the credit of gender rights leader Bindiya Rana that Pakistan is counted among the 20-odd states to have given legal recognition to the ‘third sex’ — non-binary people. They were counted in Pakistan’s 2017 census and are entitled to ID cards. Conservative Pakistan can now be regarded as enlightened in the matter of gender legalities — but not in terms of transgender people’s acceptance and inclusiveness in society.

Continue reading Gender rights

Child marriages

By Zubeida Mustafa

OUR society seems to have been obsessed for long with the idea of matrimony. Mercifully, the growing trend towards female education has to an extent weakened this obsession — but not in communities still deprived of the benefits of education and enlightenment.

In these underprivileged classes, which constitute the majority, it is a common practice for mothers to start planning their child’s marriage soon after birth. They informally decide who will be whose life partner. Termed ‘baat pukki karna’, the arrangement is irrevocable. The girl’s mother even starts collecting her daughter’s jahez. Obscurantist parents even consider it a sin if the child is not married before puberty.

Continue reading Child marriages

Culture of corruption

By Zubeida Mustafa

THE ongoing school and college examinations across the country mark the advent of the cheating season. As expected, the national discourse is now focused on the malpractices of both candidates and examiners. Also under discussion are the incompetency and corruption of the examination boards which not only tolerate this ugly feature of our education system but actually facilitate it.

Continue reading Culture of corruption

بدعنوانی کا کلچر

 زبیدہ مصطفیٰ

ملک بھر میں اسکول اور کالج کے جاری امتحانات نقل کے موسم کا آغاز ہیں۔ توقع کے مطابق اب قومی سطح پر ہونے والی بحث امیدواروں اور ممتحنوں کی بدعنوانیوں پر مرکوز ہے۔ امتحانی بورڈز اور ممتحنوں کی نااہلی اور کرپشن بھی زیر ِبحث ہے جو ہمارے تعلیمی نظام کے اس بدنما پہلو کو نہ صرف برداشت کرتے ہیں بلکہ درحقیقت اس میں مدد دیتے ہیں۔

Continue reading بدعنوانی کا کلچر

Oh, so brazen

By Zubeida Mustafa

ON Dec 9, which is designated as International Anti-Corruption Day by the United Nations, newspapers carried a prominent Sindh government advertisement titled ‘Let’s Eradicate Corruption’. It would have convinced few but it did amuse many. The ad claimed that action was being taken against corruption.

The ad admitted that corruption was against the interest of the nation and that bribery was punishable under the law. However, it made a tall demand by stating, “If you have encountered corruption, report immediately.”

Would one want to do that? I still think of my friend Perween Rahman, the head of the OPP, who was shot dead in March 2013, and how she was facilitating the regularisation of goths on the fringe of the city. In normal times too, ordinary citizens feel unprotected. Till today, we do not know who ordered the killers to pull the trigger to eliminate this dedicated social worker.

It is seemingly a brilliant idea to ask the public to report a crime even if it is as minor as a clerk demanding a bribe to move a file. Will the file actually inch forward when the accused is taken to task? As for big crimes, only a fool would hope for state protection if he dares to report it.

Continue reading Oh, so brazen

Sordid business

By Zubeida Mustafa

FOR 20 years, the US State Department has been annually documenting the efforts — or the lack thereof — of governments to check trafficking in persons (TIP) that has become a massive crime worldwide over the years. The major success it has achieved so far is in creating public awareness about this abominable issue. In some cases, it has managed to get governments to legislate on the matter in a bid to check the prevalence of the crime.

The TIP situation in Pakistan is horrifying for two reasons. First is its extraordinary rise in the two categories covered by the US report, namely, kidnapping for bonded labour and for trading girls in prostitution.

Continue reading Sordid business

Media and crime

By Zubeida Mustafa

SEX crimes and child abuse are reported to be on the rise in Pakistan. So are mental illnesses and the reach of the media. This is not a coincidence for the correlation between them has been widely recognised the world over. The fact that has however not been generally understood, in Pakistan at least, is that many of these evils have always existed but are now being reported more extensively, unethically and unprofessionally with a lot of bias. Since the reportage is generally flawed it can be quite disturbing for a young view/listener/reader.

One may ask what has mental health got to do with it especially in children? There was a time when adults were very careful about what they spoke before children. Parents actually exercised ‘censorship’ on images whether in print or projected electronically. The simple reason for this caution was that a child’s mind is sensitive to all that it is exposed to till quite an age. How it behaves in life is to a great extent determined by childhood experiences. For instance, it is well-known that many of those who commit sex crimes have suffered sex abuse themselves in childhood, have experienced violence or have witnessed it. Add to this list the youth and adolescents who are exposed to pornography habitually.

Continue reading Media and crime

Art and peace

By Zubeida Mustafa

IN her poem Children Learn What They Live, Dorothy Nolte writes that if children live with hostility they learn to fight and if they live with acceptance they learn to love. What parents, teachers and all in a position of power need to know is that they must protect children from exposure to violence and trauma if they are to be peace-loving and tolerant.

Are we doing that? Not really. Look at what television shows its viewers, or worse still what is circulated on WhatsApp or posted on social media, and you will understand why we are becoming so belligerent. Even the much-touted Single National Curriculum prefers silence on this issue and the words ‘peace’, ‘love’, ‘rawadari’ or ‘amn’ figure nowhere in the eight files posted on the federal education ministry’s website.

Continue reading Art and peace

Brave women

By Zubeida Mustafa

CONVENTIONALLY women are referred to as weak and fickle. They are also dubbed as cowardly. But all these labels have been given by men in a patriarchal society. It is unfortunate that many women have internalised these qualities and thus reinforce the male perception. One has to be grateful for those fearless women — whose numbers are now growing — who continue to defy the stereotypical image to keep reminding society that women are inherently strong and resilient and are capable of meeting the most difficult of challenges they face.

Last week, we were reminded of this truth when Khairo Dero, a village in Sindh, experienced a harrowing incident. I feel a sense of belonging when it comes to Khairo Dero, and the news of the attack on Ramz Ali literally shook me. Ramz is the project manager of the Ali Hasan Mangi Memorial Trust that Naween Mangi has set up to promote the development of this small and charming goth in district Larkana.

Ramz is the gentle and kind and honest-to-the-core soul who runs the various projects of the Trust with a firm and efficient hand. Ramz is also the father of my best friend in Khairo Dero, four-year-old Sitara.

Continue reading Brave women