A Pakistani Woman’s Manual of Daily Life

Tashan Fatima

It is not easy being a woman anywhere in the world but it is a tad more difficult being a woman in Pakistan. Living just a plain simple life anywhere in the Pakistan is a little of a perpetual challenge for a woman, while shopping, working or going out there for chores is a whole new ball game. You have to be prepared anywhere, anytime for anything. And here is a list of what you should be prepared for being a Pakistani woman:

  1. Men Stare, Stare, Stare………and Stare: Old men and young men; bearded men and clean-shaven men; the supposedly religious and the avowedly secular. They all stare. If there`s a woman or anything that belongs to the female species, even that of a goat, it will be stared at deeply. A recommended monologue for women is: “Take a deep breath, let that sink in, and accept it. Done? Ok, now move on!” But wait; If u think that covering yourself is the way to escape from these “men of ghairat (honor)” then you are totally wrong. Once they have stared, there are after-stares, and post-after-stares. And so on!
  2. The “Baji” Culture: Be prepared to be called a “Baji (sister)” by a man at least twice your age with a beard white enough to rival that of Santa’s. If he rubs or combs his beard while talking to you, RUN! The word Baji mostly means nothing but just a way of addressing a woman. And most women I know, they do not like it at all.
  3. Beware of the Burqa: While shopping, you have to keep your purses fastened, locked and placed inside another bag, clutched tightly under your arms, because that lady there in the full Burqa and Naqaab (veil) is going to steal your money, cell phone and maybe that last stick of the famous Ding Dong chewing-gum too. If you are wondering where in Pakistan? Well, trying visiting Anarkali, Ichra in Lahore and Park Towers in Karachi. And no you may not ask her to take her burqa off to check if she did in fact steal from you, because that would just be inappropriate. Wait a second; you even don’t know if she`s really a lady!
  4. Light Beating is Fine: Okay, then if you are a bold, outspoken lady and if you used to question the authorities, you know what you will get in return? “CHAMAAT (slap)!” But as the Council of Islamic Ideology, Pakistan, suggested that Light Beating is fine with women, and that is men’s right to exercise. Hence, accept it, and keep your mouths shut.
  5. Larrki Kharab Ho Gai Hay (Girl is now spoiled): If you are ever found standing or talking with someone from the opposite gender, you are going to be stared at, specially by the Desi Aunties. You know what you will be called? “Slut! Whore! Oh You Dater!” “Larki Kharab Ho Gai Hai! Shaadi Kardo (she is now spoiled, get her married soon!).” Remember Afshan Azad, an actress of Pakistani origin, was beaten up by her father and brother because she was heard talking on the phone with her boyfriend. Although they used violence against her, Afshan still loves her family and is pleading for violence charges to be dropped against her father and brother because she does not want them to go to jail.
  6. Mast Mast Cheez (Sexy babe): If you are walking on the road, hanging out, shopping (specially visiting Shahi Qila, Town Tower, Orega, Jillani Park etc. in Lahore), you have to be more conscious by keeping your arms neatly tucked in like in a football because that guy there. Yes, there with the roving eye and center parting with more oil on his hair than the Saudi oil reserves, would start singing “Tu Cheez Badi Hai Mmast Mast” or “Afreen Afreen” under his sniff. At this moment, you have two options, either ignore him, or slap him with your Desi Chappal (slippers).
  7. Ride At Your Own Risk: If you are found bicycling or riding a scooty, then be ready: you are going to be harassed on the street and nobody except Allah can save you. I think you forget what happened with Aneeqa Ali, a female bicycler, who got injured by the boys in DHA Lahore, just because she was riding a bicycle and was alone.

For active and career minded women in Pakistan, they have to keep fighting with swords in both hands, and arms giving in to the constant fencing. After all, many of the messages Pakistani women receive in life are bigoted and restrictive: “Do not go to the bazaar alone,” “do not laugh loud.” Do not do this. Do not do that. Do not do anything. And do not be a human being. I have heard of too many incidents of domestic violence around me, and I do not know of many other incidents of abuse that occur all around.

It’s a pity but I have to say this: Ladies, please feel free to exist!

Having a thought feels like writing my will, and soon enough!

Featured Image Courtesy: Deviant Art

Tashan Fatima

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A political and women rights activist, Tashan tirelessly campaigns to increase public spaces for young women, and has long worked on minority women issues. A change-maker, she is furious at honor killings and harassment of women in the South Asian societies.

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