Monday, July 30, 2012

A Follow-up on Farida Afridi's Loss: via A Safe World for Women

I'd like to share some important follow-up messages regarding Farida Afridi, who was killed just a couple of weeks ago on July 6th 2012. May she rest in peace, and may her legacy live on forever. Aameen.

I have noticed that Farida Afridi got what appears to be the most support from A Safe World for Women, a field partner of SAWERA, the organization that Farida Afridi co-founded and sacrificed her life for. According to their website,
The Safeworld International Foundation is an independent non-governmental organisation which works with grassroots organisations and promotes the rights of women and children.
Their support and their admiration for Farida Afridi (and for women like Afridi) puts me to shame. As a Pashtun woman, if not just as a Pashtun, I should be making sure that Farida Afridi's murder is not forgotten, that she gets justice, that our future leaders like her don't face the same fate, but while I'm sitting in my comfortable home worrying about things that really are too trivial compared to this, there are people across the world for me who are still thinking about Farida Afridi. They are still writing about it, raising funds for the organization and other organizations with similar goals towards peace and justice for all but especially women and children, and they're still trying so hard to get endorsements from established organizations worldwide so that the voice against Farida Afridi's murder as well as the threat to other human rights defenders will be taken more seriously.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Lyrics and English Translation of Da Loyo Loyo Qudratuno Rabba

This is one of my most favorite Pashto songs ever. This is the kind of music, the kind of poetry I like and live for. I like sincerity. I like truth. I like intimate conversations with God. I like the openness of the poet/speaker with her/his God.
ده لویو لویو قدرتونو ربہ
یوتمنا ده اوریدے شے که نہ
O' dear Lord of great bounties!
Can you spare a moment to hear a wish of mine?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

On the Sexualization and Objectification of Young Women

Some time ago, I went googling for "cute Pashtun girls" pictures and, whaddaya know, I come across these sickening sites that totally sexuality and dehumanize Pashtun women--and all other women.

I was looking for "cute" pictures of little Pashtun girls (prepubescent) who were NOT being displayed as "attractive, hot Pashtun beauties" because I find that very demeaning to women. (Warning: I would very gladly castrate any man who looks at my daughter or any other young girl in front of me with a lustful gaze.) I wanted and still want pictures of innocent, cute little Pashtun girls to put as my display pictures on Twitter and Facebook. I actively watch the American police/crime TV show Law and Order-SVU (which features all sorts of crimes committed against girls and women, including underage girls), and yet, I am foolish enough to falsely believe that a little girl cannot be sexualized, that she cannot be put on a display so as to satisfy a pervert's sexual urges. I should've known better than to expect to find pictures, really, of cute little Pashtun/Afghan girls! So disappointed in humanity. All over again.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Colorado Mass Shooting - Terrorism Much?

I will never understand murder. Why do people kill? Heck, why do people harm other people, whether physically or emotionally or psychologically? It just doesn't make sense to me!

And what's worse is when someone kills a mass of people! And I really hate simplifying this because I know that murder is a very complicated thing--hatred is a very complicated thing. And I'm so sorry for anyone who bears this much hatred in their hearts and minds. How do they live? Perhaps this is why they kill - they feel like it's the only way to let it out. I'm even sorrier for that kind of people.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Pashtun Marriages in the West--Part III: visa marriages

In an earlier post on the problem of marriage among Pashtuns in the West, I wrote, "Pashtun girls from the West having to marry men back home so that the men can come to the West! Western Pashtun girls being used and abused as entries to the West ...."
if a Pashtun girl refuses the proposal or marriage to a cousin/someone back home who's never been to the West, her family and relatives will accuse her of being selfish: "You know very well that life is hell for men there. They can't find a job, they can't get good education, they can't do ANYTHING. You HAVE to marry this guy if you care at all about the honor of this family or of your roots and people. Shame on you if you don't." This is how we're emotionally blackmailed.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Pashtun Personality of the Week: Malalai of Maiwand

Dear readers,
This post (on one of the most legendary women in Afghan history - Malalai of Maiwand) has been transferred over to my new blog. Please click below to access it.

Pashtun Personality of the Week: Malalai of Maiwand, the Heroine of the Second Anglo-Afghan War


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Pashtun Marriages in the West -- Part II: on "imported" brides & the issue of incompatibility

In a recent post on the problem of marriage among Pashtuns in the West, I discussed a couple of the problems that Pashtuns in the West face when the time to marry comes. I pointed out that most Pashtun families take their sons back home to marry Pashtun girls from their village/nearby community who they believe would be the archetypal "good" Muslim and Pukhtana--e.g., submissive to her in-laws and husband, isn't "too" educated or well-educated, doesn't think about working, and so on. She is much less of a threat to the family, many believe, than the average Pashtun girl raised in the West. But for their own daughters, these same families want good Pashtun men who are well-educated in the West and who have excellent/great/respectable jobs. So I concluded:
What they don’t seem or want to realize is that just as they want their sons, our brothers, to marry barely educated young girls who are in their late teens or early twenties at the latest, most other Pashtun mothers want the same thing for their sons, too. Where does that leave us Pashtun girls? It’s not like anyone’s going to let us marry a non-Pashtun man! But what else are we supposed to do if there are no single Pashtun men around who are compatible for us, or if they can’t marry us because their mothers want them to marry younger girls from back home?
That, I think, is the problem of marriage among the Pashtun diaspora--being compelled (pressured, forced, having no other choice because of a lack of "availability of Pashtuns raised in the West, etc.) to marry someone culturally, mentally, personally, intellectually incompatible who's "imported" (and I hate this word) from back home. 
 Having identified that as the basic problem, I continue my discussion here, one point at a time! (Promise!)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Woman's Inherent Power: why society subjugates her

I have decided that the world is intimidated by women (yeah, yeah, not like we didn’t know that already). But I finally see why!

Firstly, we (women) have the power to create what is called fitnah, or social chaos, which men apparently are incapable of causing by themselves. That’s why we have to cover up, especially our heads, because when we don’t, men apparently fall in love with us, and hell is let loose – i.e., families are torn apart, hearts are broken, men go to hell, etc., etc. When we’re covered, all is apparently well in the world. So women are obviously powerful enough to destroy the world. This is negative power.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

On Pashtun Women's Activism: RIP, Farida Afridi!

Farida Afridi, a Pashtun human and women's rights leader and activist in Khyber Pashtunkhwa (Pakistan), was killed last Friday, July 6th 2012. It hurts to say out loud, "Another Pukhtana killed because of her work." How is one not to feel angry knowing that our society has yet to figure out how to utilize women's voice and skills because, for the past several millennia, few if any societies viewed women as anything more than child-bearing sex machines? 

Farida Afridi
She was the 25-year-old founder of a women-led organization, SAWERA, the Society for Appraisal and Women Empowerment in Rural Areas; according to their website, their vision is: "To develop a just society based on equality, indiscrimination, honor and dignity, peace and security for all and where individual are respected without status, tribe, ethnicity or religion." While the organization works to empower women, it hasn't limited its efforts and activism to women alone and is in fact working for the betterment of our society as a whole. It has given equal focus to the youth as well.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Pashtun Marriages in the West – Part I: The Problem(s)

Continuing the series on marriage among Pashtuns in the West. 

*Disclaimer: The topic of this post is marriage among Pashtuns raised in the West with those who are raised back home (Afghanistan/Pakistan/Pukhtunkhwa). Please note that I'm not talking about those marriages that take place between two partners (one from the West, one from back home) who choose the marriage knowing well in advance that they were both willing to reconcile their major differences because they love each other. Some of these couples, I know them personally, are happily engaged (a couple of them are married as well), and I hope that this post will not be offensive to you! No :) I hope and pray very sincerely that you live lifetimes of happiness, love, and peace with each other and that you are blessed in every way possible!

Just thought I should make that clear since I fear some might misunderstand my point and observations. I'm also speaking *generally*, not taking any individual cases into consideration. If you've an exceptional case, please do share it with us--anonymously so, if you'd prefer.

The main problem that leads to much frustration among young Pashtun women and men is that our parents raise us (boys and girls) here in the west, educating us here, allowing us to be exposed to different lifestyles and a different culture, new ways of thinking and seeing things – but when we’re “of age” to marry, they take us to Pakistan/Afghanistan to get married. Their intentions are, of course, positive, and I’ll discuss those momentarily as well. But for now, I want to explain why this leads to problems and troubles for the couples involved in the marriage. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Does the Qur'an Speak Directly to Women?: The Qur'an's Audience as Essentially Male

Last year, I blogged on the issue of the Quran’s “audience,” which I argued was males only, women are never directly addressed in there, women are only talked “about” never “to,” and when a guideline/message is being given to women, men are asked to convey it to them. 

So for the past several months, I’ve been trying to find some Muslim scholars who address this issue, and someone recommended Farid Esack in a discussion on a different topic, and so I decided to read him. I was so, SO delighted and relieved to see that he brings up this problem of audience (he argues that the Qur’an’s “essential audience is male”), although he only mentions it and doesn’t discuss what all it actually means, or what it could mean for Muslim female readers of the Qur’an.

Even Umm Salama, the Prophet's inquisitive wife, asked him once, "How come the Qur'an never talks to women?" And in response, according to the Islamic tradition, 33:35 was revealed, which says that "Women who believe and men who believe, women who are pious and men who are pious, ... women who are patient and men who are patient, for them is great reward." But even this verse doesn't actually speak to women; it talks about them like it talks about men. The other verses, all on gender/sexuality/marriage issues,  talk about women to men with men as the medium. "Approach YOUR wives ...," "Don't marry ...; marry ..."; "Treat your wives with ..."; "your wives are your ...," "when you divorce your wives, ...," and so on. 

Just clarifying that that's what I mean when I say it doesn't talk TO women but talks ABOUT them. Big difference. Other times, the Qur'an will start off talking about/to all people (or so we're told), but then change its audience to men alone. Examples are below. So why should we think that even the beginning of those verses are for all people?

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