How a rugby union is helping young women get jobs and gain self-confidence

At a rugby ground in Lahore, Pakistan’s second largest city, a group of young women dressed in green shirts that read “Pakistan rugby” are practicing tackling. They tumble to the ground, not afraid of getting hurt. These are not just any players: They belong to the national women’s rugby team of Pakistan, and recently they returned from Brunei, where they played in the Asian Sevens tournament.

Women in Pakistan are still often judged by society when they choose to take up sports. This is especially true when it comes to rugby, a contact sport that’s considered manly, even though it remains largely unknown in Pakistan, where cricket and hockey rule. But the sport is gaining more visibility after these young women received a great deal of media attention in 2017, when they represented Pakistan internationally for the first time.

What most people don’t know is that the majority of these young women are from low-income families, and their sports careers have transformed their lives.

Read the full story here.

In Pakistan’s emerging MMA scene, a woman among men rises

Just four months ago, Anita Karim, 22, stepped into a fighting ring for the first time in her life in Singapore. She is all of 5 feet tall and 114 pounds. She stood across from a female opponent from New Zealand who was far more experienced than her. Because of her nervousness, she says, she lost the match. But just the fact that she took part in a tournament at international level is a tremendous achievement for Anita — she is Pakistan’s first and only professional female Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter.

Read the entire story here.

In Pakistan, she sees the value in children who ‘are never seen or heard’

On the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan, there is a neighborhood a world away from the luxury cars, private schools, and orderly streets in the capital. Here, around a Sufi shrine called Bari Imam, mud-brick houses line the dirt roads, little boys with dirty faces offer to wash cars for less than a dollar, and girls in torn dupattas, long scarves, try to sell flowers to people who come to pray at the shrine.

But not far from the shrine is a school that provides education and solace to these street children, who otherwise would face abuse by gangs that operate in the area. Zeba Husain, the founder of Mashal School, is greeted enthusiastically by the students as she walks in the gates with a smile. There is a never-ending flow of people to her office – mothers, volunteers from the country’s top colleges, and private donors with their checkbooks.

Ms. Husain is clearly loved in the community. And yet her life has been an uphill struggle. Getting her initiative to where it is today – with close to 1,000 students, four branches around the capital, and 790 former students mainstreamed into the government school system – has not been easy. “I started with just two children 10 years ago,” says Husain, who is in her 50s now.

Read the entire story here. 

Kulsoom Nawaz: first lady who navigated Pakistan’s political dramas with three-times PM Nawaz Sharif

Kulsoom Nawaz, wife of former Pakistani premier Nawaz Sharif, was an exceptional first lady by any yardstick. Highly educated, she exerted a formidable influence on her husband and his party the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), which was elected for three non-consecutive terms.

In the last few months of her life, however, Nawaz, who was mostly unconscious in hospital in London, was left wondering where her husband and daughter Maryam were.

The former first lady of Pakistan did not know that since July they had been in Pakistan, having been served 11-year and eight-year jail terms respectively on corruption charges – sentences that were suspended shortly after her death.

Read the entire article here.

Pinkit rikšat ovat Pakistanin naisille menopeli itsenäisyyteen: ”Köyhät naiset muuttuvat teiden sotureiksi”

Monsuunisateet ovat saaneet Pakistanin toiseksi suurimman kaupungin Lahoren kadut tulvimaan, mutta edes pieni vedenpaisumus ei saa kaoottisia katuja hiljenemään. Päinvastoin: autojen tyyttäily, myyjien huudot ja liikenteen melu saavat aikaan huumaavan mekkalan, jossa heikompia alkaa hirvittää. Rautatiesillan alla parturi on pystyttänyt keskelle liikennettä tuolin ja sutii partavaahtoa miesten kuontaloihin niin kuin ympärillä ei tapahtuisi mitään. Mutta pian eriskummallinen näky saa kaikki jähmettymään hetkeksi.

Ansa Noreen, 40, viilettää tottuneesti huivi päässään hämmästyneiden miesten ohi vaaleanpunaisessa autorikšassa nuori naismatkustaja kyydissä. Miehet eivät ilmeisesti ole koskaan ennen nähneet naista rikšan puikoissa.

Värikkäät kolmipyöräiset rikšat, jotka Kaakkois-Aasiassa tunnetaan nimellä tuktuk, ovat tuttu näky yli kuuden miljoonan asukkaan kaupungin kaduilla, mutta niitä ovat viime vuosiin asti kuljettaneet ainoastaan miehet.

Naisten on usein hankala käyttää kulkuvälineitä vielä suurilta osin vanhoillisessa Pakistanissa. Häirinnän pelko vaikeuttaa heidän töissä käyntiään: busseissa on miehiä ja pysäkeiltä joutuu kävelemään yksin kotiin. Taksit ovat liian kalliita päivittäiseen käyttöön köyhemmälle luokalle – ja niissäkin on melkein aina mieskuskeja.

Tästä Zar Aslam, Pinkin Rikšan perustaja, sai idean.

Lue koko juttu täältä.

”Luulin, että tässä oli loppuni” – Ex-poikaystävä puukotti pakistanilaista Khadija Siddiquia silmittömästi, mutta korkein oikeus päästi hänet vapaalle jalalle


PÄIVÄ oli ollut ihan tavallinen. Nuori oikeustieteiden opiskelija Khadija Siddiqui oli hakenut pikkusiskonsa koulusta ja oli juuri astumassa autoonsa Pakistanin toiseksi suurimman kaupungin Lahoren keskustassa.

Yhtäkkiä mies hyökkäsi hänen kimppuunsa ja alkoi puukottaa häntä raivon vallassa.

Puukottaja ei lopettanut ennen kuin Siddiquin autonkuljettaja sai revittyä hänet irti. Samassa rytäkässä puukottajan kypärä irtosi ja hänen henkilöllisyytensä paljastui: todistajien mukaan kyseessä oli Siddiquin entinen poikaystävä Shah Hussain.

Mies pääsi kuitenkin karkuun. Siddiqui jäi makaamaan verilammikkoon.

TAPAUKSESTA on nyt kaksi vuotta. Siddiqui jäi kuin ihmeen kaupalla henkiin ja on joutunut siitä asti taistelemaan saadakseen syytetyn telkien taakse. Tapaus korostaa naisten heikkoa asemaa Pakistanin oikeusjärjestelmässä.

Lue koko juttu täältä.

The Tricksters of Afghanistan’s New Online-Dating Scene

When Makiz Nasirahmad, a 24-year-old Afghan American who recently lived in Afghanistan, received a Facebook friend request from a woman with an unfamiliar name, she didn’t think twice about accepting it. The woman’s profile picture had clearly been copied off the internet, but Nasirahmad figured that the woman could be a relative of hers, trying to hide her identity; many families in Afghanistan disapprove of women posting their pictures online, so women sometimes hide behind fake names and photos.

Before long, the woman started sending Nasirahmad private messages. “Hello,” she wrote. Then, a couple of days later, another “Hello,” followed by hearts.

Nasirahmad’s new friend, it turned out, wasn’t an aunt or a cousin but a stranger—and a male one at that.

Read the story here.

Pakistan elections: Imran Khan’s supporters dance in the street as former cricketer declares victory

Supporters had gathered to dance and chant slogans outside ex-cricketer and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party leader Imran Khan’s residence in Islamabad late on Thursday afternoon, as he declared victory in a televised speech while final results of yesterday’s dramatic general elections were still waiting to be announced.

Mr Khan is now poised to become the nuclear-armed nation’s next prime minister, amidst rigging accusations by all other major parties.

Mr Khan, however, said his party would help to investigate these claims.

“We will run Pakistan like it has never been run before,” he said.

Read the entire story here.

Pakistan election: Bloodshed and accusations of foul play taint historic democratic vote

Pakistan voted on Wednesday in a historic general election that was as bitter, heated and bloody as expected following weeks of acrimonious campaigning.

Amid claims of vote rigging, election officials insisted there was “no conspiracy” although technical failures meant that the result would be delayed until late Thursday morning.

Earlier in the city of Quetta near the Afghanistan border, a suicide bomber drove a motorbike into a crowd of people near a polling station. Witnesses told The Independent the target appeared to be a police van, and there were at least five security officers among the 31 dead.

Read the entire story here.

Pakistan election 2018: How bulk voting denies democratic rights to up to 60% of Pakistanis

Only an hour away from Islamabad, just past Adiala jail where ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif now languishes after being convicted on corruption charges, the scenery quickly changes from the capital’s manicured lawns to donkey carts, water buffalo and lush fields. The walls of the village’s tiny mud-brick houses have been plastered with campaign posters of two major political parties, represented by the symbols of a cricket bat and a jeep.

But here in Chauntra, it is the powerful who determine who the villagers vote for.

Read the entire story here.