Category Archives: Women

150 women participate in motorcycle rally on The Mall Lahore

This Report was published on the Express Tribune

Women on wheels

LAHORE: The Women on Wheels (WoW) project was launched on Sunday with a motorcycle rally for women on The Mall.

A total of 150 women motorcyclists, who completed training from the Special Monitoring Unit on Law and Order and City Traffic Police, took part in the rally.

Austrian Ambassador Brigitta Balaha and former Supreme Court Bar Association president Asma Jehangir also participated in the rally. Minister for Population Welfare Zakia Shahnawaz, Minister for Women Development Hameeda Waheedud Din, Special Monitoring Unit Senior Member Salman Sufi, Danish Ambassador Helen Neilson, American Consul General Zackary Harkenrider, UN Women Country Representative Jamshed Qazi and a prominent motorcyclist from Singapore, Juvena Huan, were present on the occasion. Continue reading

Empowering Women: Police in Lahore want the city’s women to reclaim public spaces—by learning how to drive motorcycles

By Tanya Khan
This article was originally posted on Newsweek
women-on-wheels

Women in Pakistan face significant challenges. Honor killings, forced marriages and sexual harassment are among the worst, and most visible, offenses, but the pervasive misogyny is no less prominent on the country’s roads, where men can often deride and harass women drivers, prompting many to seek male ‘protection’ while driving. The harassment tends to be worst for women on bicycles or motorcycles, traditionally considered “men only” vehicles. The sight of women on motorcycles is so rare that images of women on public roads have gone viral on social media amid calls for greater government support for the “pioneers.” The Special Monitoring Unit (Law and Order), in collaboration with City Traffic Police Lahore and U.N. Women—an organization dedicated to gender equality—hopes to achieve this with Women on Wheels, Pakistan’s first government-sponsored training program for women who want to ride motorcycles.

“We [the Punjab government] want to make sure that women feel empowered” and at par with men, says Salman Sufi, the head of the law and order wing. By training them to ride motorcycles, which are a much cheaper alternative to cars, women can become more independent, he added. To start off, 150 women are being trained by the City Traffic Police at their Thokar Niaz Baig office. Imtiaz Rafiq, who is supervising the lessons, says over 60 women have been trained in the past three weeks using motorcycles donated by Honda.

The training process is designed to ensure even complete novices can achieve mastery of the vehicle within a few weeks, says Lady Traffic Warden Sidra Saleem. Each class starts with the basics of learning how to achieve balance on a bicycle. Once this has been achieved, they are taught the basics of ABC: Acceleration, Brake and Clutch, using actual motorcycles. In addition to informing the trainees about traffic rules and the basics of driving, says Saleem, the women are also taught how to overcome common problems encountered by motorcyclists.

Continue reading

‘This is a Jihad’: Ayesha Mumtaz on bringing to heel Lahore’s restaurant ‘mafia’

This article was originally posted in Newsweek

Benazir Shah

Ayesha Mumtaz2

No one seems particularly shocked when the notorious Ayesha Mumtaz arrives for a surprise inspection of a roadside barbeque joint in Lahore’s Johar Town. Surrounded by three food safety officers and one Elite Force guard, she sweeps into the kitchen and immediately hones in on the stove—which is set up next to an open sewer. “You couldn’t find a better place to cook?” she asks a worker. “Where is the owner?”

A burly man, at least a foot taller than Mumtaz, steps forward and in a guarded tone tells her the concrete slab covering the gutter is broken. An accompanying waiter chimes in by claiming it will be fixed tomorrow. She cuts him off. “I did not ask you.” Moving deeper into the “kitchen”, Mumtaz orders the owner to open the freezer. Her face narrows in anger. Using her cellphone, she photographs all visible violations—a dirty freezer, no soap at sinks, poor hygiene of food handlers, improper storage of meat and dairy, proximity to sewage.

At least 50 people—customers and employees alike—are now watching the proceedings, following the 38-year-old civil servant’s every move. Playing to her audience, Mumtaz scolds the owner: “If your patrons knew what you were feeding them, they wouldn’t even spit on your food.” Finding that he has no food license, Mumtaz’s staff shutters the business. Pointing at his serving tables, which encroach on public space, she jokes with her team: “He should thank his stars I’m not in the City District Government anymore, or I would’ve bulldozed this place.” It’s unlikely the demolition would’ve gone any faster than Mumtaz’s incursion; she inspected, documented and shut down the restaurant within 28 minutes. Continue reading

Pink Rickshaw service starts in Lahore

Lahore: Punjab government on Friday started ladies-only Pink Rickshaw service in Lahore for the low income women to generate revenue for their families, thesenlive reported.

Lahore15

The service was started in order to empower Pakistani women and to take them from low status to the opportunity to travel in comfort and at the same time gave them the financial independence.

The ladies-only pink rickshaw will also provide the female commuters to travel without any fear and harassment in the city. It will be a safer option for the ladies to use the local transport without any fear.

This article was originally published here

لٹریچر فیسٹیول۔ اُردو سے زیادہ انگریزی میں

کشور ناہید

llf3


ہال نمبر4میں کل 70 کرسیاں لگی تھیں۔ کم از کم 500 لوگ اندر آنا چاہتے تھے۔ مسئلہ بھی ایسا تھا۔ عبداللہ حسین کے ساتھ ایک گھنٹے کا پروگرام لاہور لٹریچر فیسٹیول میں ہونا تھا۔ شائقین فیصل آباد، اندرون شہر لاہور، شیخوپورہ، گوجرانوالہ اور لاہور کے سارے کالجوں سے آئے تھے۔ وہ سب عبداللہ حسین کو دیکھنا اور سننا چاہتے تھے مگر ہال کے اندر گنجائش صرف 70 بندوں کی تھی۔ اس وقت بڑے ہال میں کرکٹ پر مذاکرہ ہورہا تھا۔ اس میں گنجائش 750 لوگوں کے بیٹھنے کی تھی۔ بتانا مقصود یہ ہے کہ اول تو اردو ادب سے متعلق سیشن آٹے میں نمک کے برابر رکھے گئے تھے۔ ان کے لئے بھی چھو ٹے ہال منتخب کئے گئے تھے۔ جبکہ سیاسی موضوعات سے لیکر ملکہ ترنم، نصیرالدین شاہ اور سارے غیرملکی ادیبوں کے لئے بڑے ہال محفوظ کئے گئے تھے۔ Continue reading

Stories of sex-workers in Heera Mandi, Lahore and beyond

Posted by Raza Rumi

A TV journalist prepared this bold documentary for a news channel but it was never aired for obvious reasons – electronic media remains conservative about taboo subjects. The documentary provides great insights into the way women live, work and identify themselves as sex-workers in Lahore’s oldest red-light district known as Heera Mandi (Diamond Market) ironically next to the great Badshahi mosque. Coverage of Multan in the later parts is also interesting.

The narrator obviously has his biases – the usual refrain of middle class Muslims of the subcontinent – but he tries hard to remain neutral and investigative. There is a good dose of Mujras inserted into the series for the viewers; and tit bits of the Hollywood/Bollywood melodrama on the oppressed ‘tawaif’ (prostitute). Whilst tragedies bring these women to the sex-trade, not all of them lament their lives. If anything, Mirza Ruswa’s Umrao Jan (way back in the nineteenth century) was pretty comfortable and empowered by her profession. Similarly, one of the interviewees says: “money is the father, mother and everything for tawaifs”. The head of Kanjar biradri says that girls are taught to be ‘men’, earning ‘horses’ fooling their clients! Not to be missed.

My favourite is the ‘client’ who confesses how intoxicating it is to be “in love” with a sex worker. One gets tired of ‘using’ a wife all the time he says. Wish this documentary had been aired.

The language of these videos is Urdu so it might not be accessible to all the visitors here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyRYGczqsQo&feature=related Continue reading

It’s time for September’s Critical Mass Event!!!

Critical Mass IIIFellow Lahoris, Critical Mass Lahore has survived the summer and has been enjoyed through Ramzan.  Now, it’s time to rally once more for the cause of public transport, sustainable development, democratic public spaces and, of course, the right to have fun on our own streets!!!

Join Lahore’s 10th Critical Mass Event at 5:00pm this Sunday 27 September 2009 from the Zakir Tikka intersection, Sarwar Road, Lahore Cantonment.

Critical Mass is about having clean cities that provide mobility and accessibility. Critical Mass is about clean transport. Critical Mass is about putting public good over private interest. Critical Mass is about making friends. Critical Mass is about reclaiming public space. Critical Mass is about showing a man or a woman on a cycle is the same as one in a ten lac car. Critical Mass is about democracy.

What do I need to participate in a Critical Mass Event?

All you need is a road-worthy cycle and an sense of fun. Buy, beg, borrow or steal a cycle if you have to, but join the Mass.  Come, cycle around Lahore.  Reclaim your city, and have more fun than you can imagine!

Where and how else do Critical Mass Events take place?
Critical Mass events are typically held on the last Friday of each month in over 250 cities all over the world. In Lahore, it is held on the last Sunday of every month.  For information about Critical Mass Lahore, be at Zakir Tikka at 5:00pm this Sunday 27 September 2009 or visit the Critical Mass Lahore Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=38992998526) or the Critical Mass Lahore blog
Important: Be on time!!!

Dancing Girls Of Lahore Strike Over “Taliban” Law

Patrick Cockburn and Issam Ahmed in Lahore
Friday, 12 December 2008

The dancing girls of Lahore, the cultural capital of Pakistan, are on strike in protest against the tide of Talibanisation that is threatening to destroy an art form that has flourished since the Mughal empire.

The strike, which is supported by the theatres where they perform, was sparked by the decision of Lahore High Court last month to ban the Mujra, the graceful and elaborate dance first developed in the Mughal courts 400 years ago, on the grounds that it is too sexually explicit. Continue reading

Lahore women turn to gyms for fitness

‘Women as health-conscious as men’

* Women from all walks of life joining fitness centres

By Shahrukh Ayub

LAHORE: Women are apparently as health conscious as men, as gyms and health centres for females seem to be packed, revealed a survey conducted by Daily Times.

As the importance to look physically fit escalates in society, particularly in the case of women, joining a gym is gaining popularity amongst them.

Gyms are very crowded in the morning, which is considered to be a peak time for exercise. Women, especially from the elite classes, are now giving so much importance to their health, that they are ready to join gyms despite busy schedules.
Continue reading

Microfinance changes woman’s life

By Jawwad Rizvi

MICROFINANCE has changed the life of Bushra Bibi, a mother of eight.

Bushra Bibi has been making and selling vermicelli to earn her livelihood for the last 18 years.

Earlier, she borrowed money from a private moneylender at a very high interest rate for her business. However, she could not earn enough to support her children as most of her income went in paying the interest.

Bushra Bibi said she was married to Shafaqat Ali about 20 years ago. She started her married life with him in Rampura, a village near Jallo Morr. After some time, they shifted to Adda Chabeel, another village near Daroghawala area, she said. “Since my marriage, I have been making vermicellis at home,” she said, adding her husband was a carpenter and did not have a regular worker. Therefore, she said, she started the business of making vermicelli at home. Continue reading

Heera Mandi – The Dream House of the Whores

Courtesy Mayank Austen Soofi

I felt like a bridegroom who had come to pick out one of the three beautiful sisters. Sitting next to each other on a blue sofa, they blushed and coquettishly glanced at us.

An old woman with a straight back and shining-white hair sat down on the floor and talked of the heat and humidity. She had a firm, commanding voice that sliced and rebuked the air with the sharp tanginess of a most refined form of spoken Urdu.

Unlike the brightly-colored and intricately designed shalwaar kameeze (Shalwar are loose trousers and the kameeze is a long shirt) of the girls, the stern woman stood apart in an off-white dress and a white netted dupatta (a scarf or covering for the head and upper body worn by women), carefully adjusted on her head.

It seemed like a cultured Muslim family, but the girls were not sisters. They were prostitutes. The old lady was not a mother looking for suitable boys for her daughters, but a pleasure-house Madam.

We were in Heera Mandi — ‘a bazaar of diamonds’ — Pakistan’s oldest red light district.

Crossing into the Red Light

Mian Naeem, a soft-spoken Lahore-based sculptor and art-critic, had agreed to take me for an excursion to Heera Mandi, a place I particularly wished to visit especially after reading an excellent book by the British author Louise Brown, The Dancing Girls of Lahore: Selling Love and Saving Dreams in Pakistan’s Ancient Pleasure District.

I was in Pakistan to take part in a conference for a visa-free South Asia and was tied up with a series of seminars and speeches during the day. Night was the time to explore the city and Heera Mandi had to be a necessary pilgrimage. Continue reading

Elect Munnaza Razaq in Lahore NA-121 & PP-129

Wasim Arif has contributed this post for Lahore Nama.

The forthcoming elections (or should I say selections!) are expected to be controversial. That said there are individuals contesting in this election that richly deserve support and should be elected, one such person is Munnaza Abdul Razzaq who is standing in Lahore NA121.

Munnaza Razaq is a unique candidate and deserves support for she is not a party political animal but simply a lay person like you and me who has had enough of the same scoundrels ruling over us and has chose to make a stand by standing in Lahore NA121. An article in The News alerted me to her candidature and instantly secured her my support. The full article is shown below: Continue reading