The Endless Labors of Pakistan’s Debt-Bound Women
A form of indentured servitude persists in the vast fields of Pakistan’s poorest regions, where families labor on lands to pay off debts whose balance never seems to decrease. But while men may find their “payments” limited to hard labor, women and girls find themselves vulnerable not only to physical labor, but to domestic, sexual, and even marital labor forced under conditions of extreme duress. Religious minorities are particularly vulnerable, with an estimated 1,000 Hindu and Christian girls trafficked as a result of these debts, sold off to predatory landowners and forced to convert to Islam. The Associated Press examines the conditions faced by the more than 2 million Pakistanis living in what human rights organizations have called modern-day slavery and the particular indignities to which women and girls are subjected.
“A Pakistani girl is snatched away, payment for a family debt” (The Associated Press)
(Image Credit: B.K. Bangash/AP)
The Subversive Visibility of Pakistan’s First Trans Model
Activist and model Kami Sid was the subject of a recent photo shoot in collaboration with photographer Haseeb M. Siddiqi, stylist Waqar J.Khan, and makeup artist Nighat Misbah, making her debut as the first out trans model in Pakistan. The photographs stand in stark contrast to the other forms of visibility that has kept the Pakistani trans community in the news in recent years, including sexual assaults and homicides. BuzzFeed features photos from the shoot and a look at the struggle to combat transphobia in Pakistan.
“Pakistan’s First Trans Model Did An Absolutely Stunning Fashion Photoshoot” (BuzzFeed)
“Pakistan’s first transgender model makes debut with stunning photoshoot” (The Express Tribune)
“Kami Sid becomes Pakistan’s first transgender model and her debut photoshoot is gorgeous” (Mic)
(Image Credit: Muhammad Haseeb Siddiqui, via BuzzFeed)
Pakistan court stays expulsion order for Turkish teachers following school closure
- The Peshawar High Court temporarily blocked the government’s expulsion of more than 100 teachers at the PakTurk International Schools and Colleges, a network of private schools in the country, and their families.
- The closure of the schools comes as a result of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ongoing purge of organizations perceived as connected to exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen, leaning on Turkey’s relationship with Pakistan to push the government to close the schools.
- The administration has rejected the accusations, and staff have expressed fear at returning to Turkey, believing continued government antagonism awaits them.
“Turkish Teachers In Pakistan Face Uncertain Fate As Deportation Looms” (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)
“PHC halts government order to deport Pak-Turk school staff” (The Express Tribune)
“Peshawar High Court halts govt order to deport Pak-Turk school staff” (DAWN)
(Image Credit: via Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)
More than 50 killed after bombing at Sufi shrine in Pakistan
- The attack took place in the Khuzdar district of Baluchistan province, killing at least 52, wounding more than 100, and trapping an unknown number of others.
- Security forces believe a suicide attacker carried out the massacre as hundreds were in the shrine for daily devotional activities.
- The attack was the latest in a series targeting Sufis, members of a minority Islamic sect that has been the target of a number of attacks from extremist Sunni groups.
“Bombing at Sufi Shrine in Pakistan Kills Dozens” (The New York Times)
“IS-claimed bombing kills at least 52 at Khuzdar shrine” (The Express Tribune)
“‘No one was able to hear their cries’: Families ripped apart as terror strikes Khuzdar shrine” (AFP via DAWN.com)
(Image Credit: AP, via DAWN.com)
Gunmen kill at least 4 Shiite Muslims, injure others in Karachi
- The victims were attending a religious gathering in the North Nazimabad neighborhood of Pakistan’s largest city.
- The shooting was carried out by the Al Alami faction of the Sunni militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.
- The attack follows the recent massacre of more than 60 police cadets by Al Alami in coordination with the Islamic State.
“Gunmen kill four at Shi’ite Muslim gathering in Karachi” (Reuters)
“Five killed, several injured in sectarian attack on Nazimabad majlis” (The Express Tribune)
“5 killed as gunmen target Shia gathering in Karachi” (The Nation)
Shopkeeper arrested for selling shoes with sacred Hindu symbol
- The shoes contained the “Om” symbol, a spiritual icon in Hinduism, prompting protests and leading to the man’s arrest in the town of Tando Adam in Sindh province, home to most of Pakistan’s Hindu minority.
- Though strictest for crimes insulting Islam, Pakistan’s blasphemy laws allow for the arrest of those accused of offense to any religion, including Hinduism.
- Police indicated no offense had been intended and a shift in focus to the shoes’ suppliers, but if convicted, the shopkeeper faces up to 10 years in prison.
“Pakistani man charged with blasphemy over shoes with Hindu symbol” (Reuters)
“Hindus in Pakistan protest sale of Om-inscribed shoes” (The Hindustan Times)
“Man selling ‘Om’ inscribed shoes in Pakistan arrested for blasphemy” (The New Indian Express)
“What are Pakistan’s blasphemy laws?” (BBC, November 2014)
(Image Credit: via The Hindustan Times)
Trans activist dies in northwest Pakistan after uproar over hospital treatment
- Alisha, 23, died in a hospital in Peshawar after being shot multiple times during a dispute.
- She had reportedly had her medical intervention delayed as hospital personnel taunted her and debated whether to put her in the male or female ward.
- While police have taken in a suspect, the trans community continues to worry at ongoing targeted violence, with Alisha now the fifth trans activist to have been killed in recent months.
“Pakistani transgender activist who was shot, then taunted at hospital, dies of injuries” (The Los Angeles Times)
“Police arrest prime suspect in transgender Alisha’s murder” (Pakistan Today)
“Pakistani transgender activist dies after delayed medical care” (The Washington Blade)
(Image Credit: Trans Action Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, via The Los Angeles Times)