Say No to Body Shaming #saynotobodyshaming

Body shaming has not much explicitly mentioned in our societies, It is  only non serious small little hilarious remarks or advices  you get from people every now and then regarding your weight ,height or color of the skin. Your body could be a topic of discussion for people and sometimes direct remarks are shot as well.This is so normal  and acceptable practice in our South East Asian societies  and we can hardly protest, those who dare to , are often regarded as misbehaved ones.

I have always been taught to never reply back to elders for any such remarks  otherwise people will question  my  upbringing ( what kind of a daughter my mother has raised , an audacious and shameless girl! ) so sometimes words just remained in my mouth and much longer they remained in my mind .

I have seen women going into depression for not losing weight even after trying everything , people making fun of them at social or family gathering, even family members don’t spare them. Somewhere  while trying to keep up the smiling face they were probably crying inside. At the end of the day either white , brown or dark, short or tall , slim or bulky , black or blue eyes , these are all diverse ways how people can vary from each another based on their region , climate and living  like any other species vary ,  we don’t want to end up looking all same right ? so why worry so much for how we should look then rather how we actually look and be happy with that . The current parameters of beauty are in contrast with what it were in the past,  having a belly  was sign of prosperity and richness, Being  thin  was a symbol of poverty and starvation ! so  let no parameter  define your beauty except on moral and spiritual grounds or limit your confidence, let no fashion police put down your spirits. We are all beautiful in the way Allah created us, We are all struggling with our own issues and problems so why put an extra stress because someone stupid thinks you are not beautiful so next time you see someone body shaming you or any third person in your presence , better shame them for being outrageous to talk about other’s bodies and not minding their own business.

A few from young generation I have observed,  stood up against it but they are more taken as rebels, their arguments are plainly rejected because  they got angry at first place or said something mean before putting their arguments ! I  don’t think blunt replying will only help, People might shut up in front of our faces but will continue behind our backs ! We need to fix the problem at root level by creating more awareness and educating people  for this issue which is lying so unseen and not enough dealt with. What you can do is share such posts on your social media , write about it , talk about it with your family and cousins and you will be done with your bits 🙂

While I was going through the post about Body Shaming of Women in Pakistan by Saadia Haq , I always had wanted to write about it , I have spoken on it various times but this time under a dedicated post. You can read her post in link below :

https://saadiahaq.wordpress.com/2016/05/19/body-shaming-of-pakistans-women/

Does your wearing Hijab or Jilbab guarantees you will not be eve- teased ?

Does your  wearing Hijab or Jilbab guarantees you will not be eve- teased ?  Unfortunately, It doesn’t ! There are many times this argument has been given over modesty of women where her covering up is directly linked to the response and behavior of eve teasers and molesters . A covered woman implies I am not open for harassment then what does  a women in shorts implies ? Is she is quite open to it ?  I don’t think any woman would like that. There is no guarantee if you wear Burqa or Hijab that nobody will stare at you, or harass you or pass lewd comments or might even try to touch you inappropriately on  public transports  especially if you live in third world countries. We are often so engrossed in thinking how a woman’s behavior and dress should be that we forget how  behavior of men should be ! Who is going to moral coach these men to  behave with women and respect them, irrespective of what women wear and  look like. Why our scholars not talk about it more often, than they do for pious women . If by wearing Hijab  I have done my part for modesty, then where is your part Brother or my not doing Hijab gives you a right to not do your part ?

There are pictures on internet floating in support of Hijab where there is a comparison of Hijabi and a non Hijabi  by showing an  open candy surrounded by flies  and a  wrapped candy safe and sound like a Hijabi in her Hijab , I mean really ? What are you reducing us to ? mere candies ! This is what you think of woman as? and it’s a pity seeing women supporting it. Are you wearing your Hijab because you feel you are fulfilling a command of Allah or you think it makes you holier than the other women and you can assume them as lower and less worthy than you , if that is the case , it is time for a Reality Check sisters. This  holier than thou attitude is like a pest and eating all your efforts and goodness. We have to let it go, we are wearing Hijab because we want to, because Allah asked us to. Us doing something and other’s not doing it  doesn’t make us any better . Even when you read Quran , Allah always mentions things as This is better for you  and you might now know or harmful for you that you do not know. He nevers says ,I will love you less and you are now less holy than others. We might be doing something more worrisome than wearing or not wearing Hijab  and we might even not know about it . Time to self introspect and improve .

Time to stand up for all women respect and dignity irrespective of her choice of clothes. It is time for men to start behaving than pointing fingers on women . If you say a woman in less clothes provokes you , what argument you have to misbehave with a woman in Hijab or full covered clothes, you don’t like what she has put on her head or that loose garment around her body, you have to admit it is your pervert nature and it needs to be cured.

The pressures of modern working women!-Part 1

Recently I have had some conversations with few of friends and I have gone through this phase myself ,the topic doesn’t  leave me for sometime.  The pressures of an urban girl, our modern working women!

The social progress and  development has given a lot of rights to women : Education, Equality, Work etc and we have excelled in all of the fields .We have dreamed , aspired , struggled and achieved our dreams to be educated and financially independent . While we were flying high  happily  in our lives  suddenly we had our strings  pulled back  because we have  hit 26 ,some 28 or 30 years in age and are still single. This pressure to be married and settled down is so much that it overshadows all the achievements of girls , from being an achiever  they  are reduced to a status of poor girls who are not yet married. Their families are in constant pressure to get their daughters married in our South East Asian societies . With each passing birthday , they have another year of being a ‘yet unmarried girl’. Not talking about the details of going into an arranged marriage and those pains of rejections or being forced to settle for someone who is not even their worth or match just because the clock is ticking.

Since the time we have remembered being ourselves as girls, we had this constant pressure of proving ourselves  to what boys  can do or are allowed to do . Infact this pressure of doing things turns into outperforming them and also became  passion . The performance had boosted  our confidence and self respect and we had got habitual of living with dignity and pride when all of sudden people around us starting stealing it in form of concern and pity. Why do we even  allow ourselves to be reduced to an object of pity for others.We have put all of lives to become what we are today and then this constant  pressure of marriage is draining all our energies (and later on it  brings additional roles and responsibilities that I have kept for other parts of this topic) and for some even deviating from their life’s goal. They want to study further or get a better position in their work , or travel and later  think about Marriage , Why not respect their opinions ?

I think it is not only  working women’s problem  who should somehow found a way to solve their problem  but we need a collective change in mindset of our society to accept that there is  not  only  a single  age bracket to get married and once you pass that age you will not get married. We need to come out of that closed box thinking of being limited to our traditions and cultures , Be kind enough to understand  these women who just finished their studies , started working, some of them still paying their education loans  are now grilled with this pressure and are piling up the stress . So many of us have started having health issues which mostly are result of chronic stress.The message is not only for these urban working ladies to be strong enough to handle this pressure of marriage but also to our society to be gentle enough , to be more kind and more mature to accept the change and let go of their preconceived notion of marriageable age.

I am not against marriage , there is nothing better than a good marriage and also nothing worse than a bad marriage so we need to choose wisely . Why rush or be sad for things not happening right now. Things will happen  at their own time , till then we need to continue living our lives. The ultimate goal of life is not only marriage . Do things that you love, increase your knowledge , learn new things , travel , practice kindness  and patience and most importantly never ever give up your confidence   !

More to be followed soon in other parts  🙂

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TheAcidAttacks#Reshmaqureshi#makelovenotscars#endacidsale

The newspapers few weeks back were flooded with New York Ramp walk pictures and story of Reshma Qureshi ,an acid attack survivor from India .Her journey from an acid attack victim to being a survivor ,an activist and now being model to walk the ramp in New York is inspiring, incredible and heart breaking. Her pictures will make you cry and her smile will bring back your smile. There are thousands of Reshma in India who have undergone such pain and horror in their lives and she is a representation of them all.

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Through my blog I want to congratulate Reshma Qureshi for her determination and spirit and as well the the NGO ‘Make love not Scars’ who are helping these wonderful women to create an awareness to ban the unregulated sale of acid and their efforts to integrate the Acid Attack Survivors back in the society .

There are lot of NGOs in India and subcontinent working to help such victims by giving them counselling and medical aid. They are doing commendable jobs to connect these isolated  women  to social media  and normalize their lives. One of the issue they have raised is to regulate the sale of these acids in normal drug stores and grocery stores .The local  people use it as a cheap replacement for toilet cleaners. Although the ban has been announced by Supreme Court of India but still acid is sold publicly in some parts of countries where these incidents are more common.An ongoing activism and regulation is required to bring this law under full implementation. The major cause is average Indian’s ignorance  to root cause of this ban,  they need to be educated about the gravity of acid attacks and one of the reason behind them is its easy and cheap availability . These acts not only ruin somebody’s face but their complete life and lives of people connected with them. A trauma of lifetime can be completely avoided if people will stop buying it  and the illegal sale will eventually decline.

The end of acid sale will meanwhile help to reduce such incidents but real root cause needs to be handled at core level of homeschooling/parenting and moral educating the children. We need to invest more into educating our boys teaching them to respect women and telling them women are not mere objects to be enslaved but an equal to them in creation and they are in no way better than a female except based on their actions . I would count this offence more on terms of gender inequality as a residue of damaged  male ego  going down the level  to disfigure and destroy identity  of opposite sex permanently . The questions :How can you ignore me, How dare you reject me ; perceiving themselves as higher beings  are ending up in crime against women. No doubt such perverts are mentally ill but that the little idea which ended up being a big crime in their minds is given from society. The social values that a male child is favored upon female or male is better and a female should be submissive have added fuel to it, all these have to go and replaced by better values to  respect women and giving them equal status and  freedom to select or reject their partners as men would like to  keep for themselves,  so we no more  have acid attack victims in 21st century.

Looking for a better world and hoping for better future.

 

 

And the Debate about Burkini Ban continues #burkiniban

I am waking up everyday to see my newsfeed full of articles and news about the French Burkini Ban. No wonder any news get amplified ample times by our Social Media before it reaching us as a breaking news. The ban was initially in Nice and now it has spread to  15 french cities .France is a big country and for now it is only 15 cities who banned it but this ban is expected to follow in further cities too and which is alarming.

Is Burkini really that important to be banned? At the end it is just a costume that some women chose to wear while they go swimming.Neither the number of those women is high nor is their anything  in that attire that a part of population should feel threatened from it.Burkini looks similar to a wetsuit that a surfer wears but a wetsuit is not problem but Burkini is. May be because it is majorly worn by Muslim women who thinks covering up is part of their religious obligation which could be an issue for the French Government to digest on scales of their version of secularity .

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The above picture is depiction of recent stripping of Burkini Clad woman on a Nice beach versus the police in a Gulf country asking a woman to cover up. Aren’t they both the same in a way that you force a woman to cover or uncover ? Stripping a woman on a beach because her full covering is not acceptable to the people around , is ridiculous and shameful. You could just ask her to leave instead of asking her to take off  her clothes ?  Does it anyway sound like freedom or advocacy of women’s rights ? Is a woman not free to choose her clothes?  Should the government  tell their women what to wear?

The Burkini Ban is nothing but a policy to further divide people on basis of their choice  to wear clothes , another try to make a us vs them social divide. In a time where terrorism has struck high and governments of all countries should work to combat  terrorism  and Islamophobia , you are adding fuel to the fire with this Burkini Ban, you are justifying a part of population obsessed with Islamophobia that yes, you are right ! You need to be scared of women wearing a Burkini on a beach or swimming pool. In the name of secularism ,it is just oppression and curbing of basic human rights. I am sure there must be women out there who are not muslim and they do not like to show their skin too, covering up  is not only just muslim thing or cultural thing it is about individual rights and choices, how is anyone to decide if his/her choice is better than mine or vice versa.To each one his life, his choices. Let others live how they want to , not how you want them to,  based on your idea of living life .

Why it is alright to accept some old age clothing in name of fashion for example those gladiator shoes but if you see a woman wearing an abaya or head scarf, she looks to you from caves ? Because this is what Media has always portrayed , A woman letting go of her scarf as a sign of freedom ? I personally feel wearing a scarf was a sign of freedom for me, I chose to free myself from others  idea of how should I look, from those pressure of looking beautiful and acceptance in society and that competition of looking most beautiful in a party , I have broken free  from all such pressures and anxieties. Isn’t that freedom ? Yes , it is for me and it might not be for you, so please  everyone whenever the judgemental thoughts come to your mind , stop it right there and then , don’t let them play in your mind and disturb your inner peace.

Wish you all much Peace !

 

 

Welcome to the Age of Digital Anxieties

Recently read one of the article  from  Brain Pickings  called  We’re Breaking Up by Rebecca Solnit about Modern Non Communication and how it is changing our lives . My mind instantly found words to conform the behaviors  experienced everyday which I was communicating  through words like addictions , dependencies on internet and phone.Undoubtedly internet has changed our lives forever and there is no life imaginable without internet,without our Dear Phones held in our hands constantly .

Being a digital migrant and some of you might  be digital natives as well  there is constant surge of anxieties within us all the time, for example right now I have switched the tabs on my Chrome Window once  every 5 minute to check what’s happening elsewhere. I am always switching between my work laptop and phone. There is a constant anxiety to check Facebook or Whatsapp even if there is nothing really exciting happening .There is always this  feeling of  restlessness  to keep switching from what I am doing currently.  Is it  lack of focus and self control or boredom ?  Or is it FOMO , the fear of missing out on information ? My rate of getting  bored of whatever I am doing  is just ticking high with years passing by, I  always feel an urge to keep switching my focus , my concentration to something else of what I am doing in that moment.This need of doing many things at one time , this lack of interest in one thing as soon as you start it,  this lack of focus and attention of what a particular task deserves , it all annoys me in fact it bothers me. I want to be perfectly engrossed to what I am doing at that moment, that is how I was  but not any more .

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So far , I have been consciously minding myself and learning to discard these impulses, constantly reminding myself of how should I behave but the reality is  the anxiety of Digital Age  do exist and the struggle is also real , it is just that nobody is talking about it much until it will be an epidemic.The fact that you cannot be really alone even when you want to is disturbing ,to shut down your brain of everything else except where you want to focus is getting difficult everyday. To introspect, to muse requires lot of self motivation and practice than ever.

I am trying to regulate the behavior by switching off my data for few hours on work , going for a walk without phone, doing something for an hour without technology like reading a book , cooking , they are helping me so far. Do let me know how you deal with this untalked anxiety of our Digital Era would be great to know.

RIP Dear Humanity#QandeelBaloch

To be honest I  have never known Qandeel Baloch until recently I read news and articles on internet about her cold blooded murder by her own brother in name of  honour killing . I am not here to justify or glorify her actions but I am certainly here to condemn her killing in name of family honour.

Her death has indeed left me gaped and wondering in which society we are all living where a woman is not safe with in her own home and family. There is no price of a woman’s life , it comes so cheap and easy.What kind of patriarchy is it which justifies the killing of human being just because she is woman ! Why not kill your sons who bring bad name to the family ,why only daughters ? Who is it that makes a woman whore ?? It is man and later on they go on to character assassinate her. Instead why not go and kill those terrorists who are bringing bad name to Muslims ? What kind of norms of society are these which sets limit only for a woman and not man!

The deep rooted patriarchal mindset , misogyny , male dominance ,ignorance ,  false pride are all responsible for such mindless honour killing.What kind of honour is this which comes at price of your loved one’s’ life  ? The collective spirit of our society which sets limit only for female behavior has to change ! A woman is nothing but a mirror of men around her , You need to think twice before raising a finger over a woman, Have you as a man done enough to ensure her freedom and security ? Have you given her due rights ? Have you raised her with love and education that she deserves ? Is it only a woman’s fault to blame her for everything wrong ?

What could be worse than a human being  not fearing his Creator for his unjust acts and  wrongdoings  but is more fearful of  the society and its people of what they will think and say about them. Leave each one to his own Karma , let him live his life ! Why be so judgemental and prosecutorial.Everyone learn their own lessons on this life’s journey, let them fall, let them rise, help them to stand up again but what we are doing right now is pushing them further down by dividing , by distancing and judging people.

My request to all my readers let us try to be human first  before being a man or woman.

( Qandeel Baloch was a Pakistani Model and social Media Celebrity . You can read more about it at Human Lens of Saadia Haq , fellow blogger and human rights activist from Pakistan. You can ask her to add your name to petition signed for Qandeel )

 

Thoughts of a Hijabi on the Beach

Last weekend we had  nice sunny weather in Belgium, and we thought to make the most of it, We planned a day trip to Ostend, a Belgian city on coastline of North Sea.

Would like to share some of my beach moments as Hijabi may be fellow Hijabis can commiserate with me:

  • You look so ‘not for the beach’ with your full body covering including your head when everyone around is scarcely dressed! People look at you with a shock as if they really see what they see! Sorry to embarrass you guys! I too need to see beach sometimes 😉
  • You sense the feelings in your neighbours’ frowns and stares  until they give whatever blah-blah look and go back to their sun-tanning lying on the back pose.
  • Your eyes constantly searching for fellow Hijabis.
  •  After some time you will find few hijabi birds flocking around bringing their mat/sheets closer to yours, frequently exchanging the empathizing glance and smiles.
  • The wind making it difficult for the hijab to be in place and you are struggling to pull it back all the time and if you have kept your sandwich outside for few minutes it already tastes sand, you reach out to your water bottle and it is warm already.

Once you start looking at the sea and hear the sound of big joyous waves, the mesh of thoughts inside your brain gets dissolved and washed away. The sea makes an instant connection with you irrespective of who you are and what you are wearing. I tried reading a book for some time but sun was too strong to be overlooked. I decided to walk down the shore the cold water providing me relief and chill at the same time. I looked around the beach with my scanner eyes: kids playing in water, laughing and running. Few little ladies were busy making their sand castles and so engrossed in their work. There were some elderly couples walking hand in hand and contemplating life. I stood there watching the sea waves arriving and departing, thoughtless and contented.

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( a child playing with waves , Belgian Coast , Ostend  8 May 2016 )

so while I was finishing off my post and it was time to choose a  category I came across an already existing category  ‘Hijab Awareness’ and indeed the idea behind post was creating awareness for Hijab.I used  a comic sense in my post but behind the light jokes lies crude reality that people still don’t know much about Hijab and if they know they do not have very good thoughts about it, few  people I crossed on the beach gave me weird looks. I might be out of place according to them  or a criminal for fashion police but it’s my choice just like they have theirs , why should  there be a set of rules defined of how  one be dressed according to a place/occasion. One should  wear whatever according  to his/her comfort level , likeness and not out of social pressure  to fit in .We need to have acceptance and tolerance of each other’s beliefs ,culture and life’s choices.

The Written Stuff vs.The Not Written Stuff: Sex Education From An Islamic Perspective Part I

Well done Sadia for bringing up this topic. It is most hushed hushed thing in muslims. I think it is high time to come out and speak against for what is wrong in our society and rectify it .

The Human Lens

Part I, Written by By Saadia Haq of The Human Lens

This time in our collaboration we are discussing the unspeakable at length – yes the most tabooed subject among present day Muslim communities; sexual health education and rights.

Islamic countries are complicated really, they are. Just imagine being born in a society where women buying sanitary pads or a boy asking his father about the changes he’s experiencing as a teenager is deemed inappropriate and seriously frowned upon. Here being unmarried culturally stops Muslim youth from gaining sex education and young Muslims marrying too have no proper channel to learn the Islamic teachings on sexuality and intimacy between spouses.

Off course a lot of domestic abuse, patriarchal customs including marital rape of women get happily justified by numerous Muslims in the name of Islam. The present day Muslim male fear of ‘uncontrolled women’ has resulted into justification of male guardianship…

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The Holy Women of Pakistan

Thanks Sadia for throwing light to such illiterate practices in some muslim societies , I have never heard or read about it before where a woman is married to Quran. I am shocked to read it , Reblogging it.

The Human Lens

“But the practice, is frowned upon by almost all religious scholars and much of mainstream Islam, is generally practiced in secret,” says a local cleric. Further he adds, “Islamic rights on women’s share in property are very clear; but reflecting upon the issue of Quran marriages, it is appalling that in the 21st century such out-dated customs still prevail.”

The tradition of “Haq Bakshish” most common in province of Sindh, but also followed in Southern parts of Punjab province, is most often practiced by the feudal families, often `Syeds’. The Syeds consider themselves upper caste Muslims families are often reluctant to allow their women to marry into non-Syed families, in a kind of caste system that sees such families as being lower in status.

These Syeds claim to be the descendents of Muhammad and regard themselves are pure-blooded “Muslims”. That is if any such thing exists. There is…

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