Proposal from HE, who must not be Remembered


Written by: Fozia Tahir for anonymous!

Sending a marriage proposal in Pakistan is like playing darts at home elsewhere.

  1. Give it a go, if it works very well, after all it was meant to be…
  2. If it doesn’t work, God forbid!! how could she ever say NO!!! (that characterless *************** -put as many stars as you can imagine-)

As one of my cousins had once asked me, “what is wrong with our boy?”. Now, why must I look for a fault in your boy to say no. I want to say no and it is my right to say no (FULL STOP). Who gives so many people the licence to ask me why I said no? especially when our beloved religion gives women the right to marry as well as other marital rights (see previous articles in the blog about marriage, dowry and divorce). But very often in such cases culture card is played to endorse oppression of baby girls. 

Funnily enough, when a women wants to say yes to a proposal, no further discussion is allowed on the topic. On the other hand when she wants to say no, the whole family sits her down and schools her on how amazing the boy and the family is and what benefits the matrimony could bring for Indo-Pak relationship (quite literally!).

I wish I could write more about the art, science and philosophy of marriage proposals in Pakistan but this post is not meant for that. It is actually based on a true story, where a boy, who had harassed a little girl at a very young age, decades later sent her a proposal and was very cross at getting ‘NO’ for an answer. I hope that this can shake people to be mindful about staying away from silly and irresponsible behaviour at a younger age and being mature enough when they ask for a girls hand later in their lives.

I am not saying that men don’t have problems when it comes to relationships and proposals, but the scale at which young girls and women suffer in this regard is incomparable to those of our fellow brethren, so I am really sorry that I will completely ignore your problems in this case.

The story is as under

‘Once upon a time there was a young girl in a place that allowed her to be wild and free. Despite many a lectures from her mother on why she should not go to her friends place and why she must be accompanied with an elder when leaving home, she did what she liked, which was to play outside with the kids from her street and come back home hours later. One day she was walking in the street alone and she encountered her cousin who was only a year or two older than hers. He took advantage of the opportunity and touched her every now and then while walking with her. Her mouth dried up. No one had told her what to do, if she ever encountered a situation like this. She wanted to shout but couldn’t so she ended up dodging him, running away until she got to her door.  The touching did not stop in the mean time. She went in, without making any noise and raised no further discussion on the topic. That boy and his face meant nothing to her. He deserved no emotion from her. Hate seemed too honourable for a little boy of his sort. That young cousin was dead, right there and right then for her. 

Decades later, her mother called her to tell her that she has a proposal. when she took his name, her ears deafened for a while. Seconds later, she asked her mother to say no as soon as possible without any further explanation. Fortunately, her parents weren’t too keen on the boy either so she got away with this one. The boy and his mother were cross about this (ofcourse). She has forgotten her place and how dare she say no to one of the finest boys in the family. 

She hadn’t forgotten her place. In reality He had forgotten his. How dare he send that proposal? did his mouth not burn with wildest of fire when he took her holy name with his filthy mouth? does he even remember what he had done to this girl or has he become holy and pious himself?

The biggest question,

Are women too emotional and worry too much about molestation and harassment while the accused man forgets it soon after committing it?

and, why must women forget such monsters? is there room for forgiveness in this case?

This doesn’t end here. This is a never ending problem of our society and we don’t really discuss it in organisations or at homes. Changing mindsets has become a must for our society and we have observed that education alone is not enough to change mindsets as the region that this lady is from claims to have highest literacy rate and an open mindset and so on…

 

P.s. I cried while writing this and I hope that it touches your hearts the way it has touched mine. 

P.P.s. Momma dears..Please Raise careful daughters and respectful sons!

 

 

Fair, Lovely and Politically Incorrect

By: Fozia Tahir

Having lived in the UK for five years I had almost forgotten the importance of fair skin in Pakistan. I recently attended a musical event in my hometown in the north of Pakistan where majority of the population has lighter skin tone. The Host who of course happened to be from the south said, ‘the crowd was full of goray chittay people literally meaning, ‘fair skinned (beautiful) people’. The crowd is so used to such comments that no eyebrows were raised and no offence was taken. In the west however, the same host would have had to apologise soon after giving such a statement.

Why did no one question it?

Why were those who are not as fair skinned as most not offended?

Where exactly does this mind-set come from?

and why must we make peace with it?

We have been blaming colonialism and American influence on Pakistan for so many things but perhaps our mind-set is our own problem. Many politically incorrect things, including the obsession with fair skin, seems to have percolated deep down our thought process. I will not quote many research articles and figures here today but blame our media industry and the people involved in it for continuously reinforcing all the false ideas and poor mind-set that we have long fallen prey to.

Those who know Pakistan well would also know that television is the biggest form of entertainment for majority of the population residing in the urban as well as rural areas of Pakistan. People love to spend their afternoons and evenings in front of their TV. I wanted to see what was going on, on TV in terms of obsession with fair skin. I realised soon after that almost all the skin care products sell the very concept of getting lighter skin tone. Such as, 

Urdu: Hum larkiyon ka face fresh hona chahiye

Translation: Us, girls should have a fresh face

You shouldn’t second guess the name of the product. It is indeed called face fresh

Fair and lovely has long used women with dark skin tone as their models and shown their skin tone improve with the use of their product over time as an example.  This is 21st century and I think it’s about time that fair and lovely changes the name for the new lines it is creating.

What’s funnier is that some of these creams don’t display the products that they contain. E.g. I looked at the packaging of a famous whitening cream called gypsy amazing cream that only said at the front that it contains jojoba oil but no further ingredients were given at the back. It is obvious that the products contain bleach and few major ingredients should be placed at the back of the packing. Its not really my problem as I wouldn’t use the product unless I am conducting some kind of research experiment on the product but those who use it deserve to know what must the mystery magic box contain.  

Fair is not good and kaala (dark skin) is not bad and we need to break such stereotypes especially popular products like Fair and lovely whose consumers seem unaffected by such form of political incorrectness.  

The root of all our problems could be lack of education but many formally educated people also believe in the importance of fair skin. In fact, in Pakistan, fair skin is a requirement in the proposal checklist for a girl from the male side.

Women invest more time and money on their physical appearances and almost no time on personality growth..

Solution: Change aka Tabdeeli?

Change is coming. The newer generation is ready to fight all the stereotypes but we are still shackled by many concepts the like of fair is beautiful.

we have a long long long way to go until we speak about issues like pay gap and equal pay for equal work etc nevertheless we should not give up on our fights to break stereotypes.

Good Luck to us for that…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/66542607@N07/6266540192

Glacial ice- what is the future?

Part 1

Author and Narrator : Fozia Tahir

 

Background Information 

Fresh water accounts for only 3% of global water resources. Remaining 97% is sea water that contains salt and is unfit for drinking and agriculture. Out of the 3% freshwater available 2.5% is in frozen form in glaciers and arctic ice. Most of this water is stored in aquifers, followed by rainfall falling, natural lakes, man-made storage facilities and rivers. Even this little water that is available for human consumption is not evenly distributed around the world.

Water is essential for life on the planet. It seems to be the only divide between poverty and prosperity. It’s essential for life on the planet (agriculture, food, energy and manufacturing etc) and defines the ecosystem. The limited fresh water supply is getting impacted by rise in population and climate change. Water demands are increasing while the supplies shrink. This requires communities to adapt to the changes. However, there is a need for all of us to mitigate alongside adapting to the global environmental changes. As the water stress and scarcity increases in some areas, increased runoff and rise in sea level will take place in others. Today’s article will focus on one of the largest fresh water resources on the planet i.e. glaciers (and arctic ice).

Case Study

A study in Australia predicted that areas of Antarctica that are permanently without ice could increase by up to 25 per cent by the end of the century because of climate change. About 68,000 square kilometres (less than 1%) of the white continent is currently ice free, and that land is home to 99 per cent of Antarctica’s terrestrial plants and animals, including penguins, seals and seabirds and unique species of mosses, lichens, fungi and small invertebrates. According to Aleks Terauds, a lead researcher with the Australian Antarctic Division, expansion of ice-free areas could have serious implications for biodiversity because of increased homogenisation. The biodiversity of Antarctica is unique, vulnerable, different to anywhere else in the world, and so well protected but we have to manage their conservation and protection with climate change. We must join scientist in efforts to reduce carbon emissions around the world as the rise in sea level will also strip many island communities of their homes.

Climate change is a threat because species have evolved to live within certain temperature ranges, and when these are exceeded and a species cannot adapt to the new temperatures, or when the other species it depends on to live cannot adapt (its food supply), its survival is threatened. All changes we have seen to date has been for a temperature rise of less than 1% since the late 19thCentury. The international panel on climate change (IPCC) has predicted a rise of an average 6 degrees Celsius or more by 2100 based on the current trends in burning fossil fuel.  

Glacial Ice and Glaciers:

Glacial ice (glaciers, ice caps and ice sheets) covers nearly 10% land area on earth and accounts for 75% of the global freshwater.  World glacier inventory (WGI) provides information for over 100,000 glaciers throughout the world. Glaciers form where snow is deposited during the cold and does not entirely melt during warm periods. This seasonal snow gradually densifies and transforms into perennial firn and then the interconnecting passages between the grains are closed off into ice. This mass of surface-ice on land which flows downhill under gravity and is constrained by internal stress and friction at the base and sides. In general, a glacier is formed and maintained by accumulation of snow at high altitudes, balanced by melting at low altitudes or discharge into lakes or the sea. Glacial surges (i.e. advances due to sudden flow with velocities up to 100 times faster than normal advances) and glacial retreats are natural events but their scale is increasing with climate change. Changes in atmospheric conditions influence the mass and energy balance at the glacier surface. In fact, the very concept of climate change has long been spread, showing calving or break off and fall of glacier ice into the water.

Lake formation and glacial lake outburst flood

Lakes can be formed underneath (subglacial), within (englacial), on the top (supraglacial) of or in front (proglacial) of a glacier. The lake formation can be permanent, periodic or infrequent, controlled by the changes in the glacial drainage system. The change can be slow or catastrophic after a threshold. Earthquakes, subglacial volcanic eruption, rock avalanches or debris flows reaching lake can also cause sudden GLOF. Lake formation and glacier retreat usually happen in parallel. As the glaciers retreat, they also deflate and more crevices open. Some of these outbursts endanger human life and resources.

 

Pakistan

With 7,253 known glaciers, including 543 in the Chitral Valley, there is more glacial ice in Pakistan than anywhere on Earth outside the polar regions, according to various studies. Those glaciers feed rivers that account for about 75 percent of the stored-water supply in the country of at least 180 million. But like the other parts of the world, the glaciers are receding, especially those at lower elevations in the KPK. Factors such as overpopulation, poverty complicate the glacial receding e.g. scooping of the ice in warm weathers by people who make money out of it. Data gathered by the met office over the last 50 years shows that around 120 of the glaciers are showing signs of melting.

Other researches recommend that in Gilgit Baltistan due to higher precipitation the glaciers may expand. Many glaciers are covered with silt and debris that insulate them. One such research was carried out in the Shimshal valleyof Pakistan to investigate why while glaciers in the other parts of the world are shrinking, many Karakoram glaciers are advancing. The effect is known as Karakoram anomaly. I will be speaking to the researcher in my next podcast about his research.

Until we come back with the next section of this podcast I want you think about 

What should be done?

  • Does the state implement any laws on ownership and use of glacial ice?
  • Are local communities aware of sustainable use of natural resources?
  • How has change in glacial ice impacted local wildlife?
  • What should be next?
  • Do we have quality local and national level research going on?
  • Do the studies involve GPS and other satellite tools to understand the change and the rate at which change is happening?
  • What will be the effect of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) on the already melting glaciers?

 

 

 

Reference:

 

  1. “Water for People, Water for Life” UnitedNations World Water Development Report, Part II: A look at the world’s freshwater resources. UNESCO, 2003,
    unesco.org
  2. https://19january2017snapshot.epa.gov/climate-impacts/climate-impacts-water-resources_.html(27th April 18)
  3. https://nsidc.org/cryosphere/glaciers/quickfacts.html(26th April 18)
  4. http://www.grid.unep.ch/glaciers/pdfs/glaciers.pdf
  5. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/pakistan-has-more-glaciers-than-almost-anywhere-on-earth-but-they-are-at-risk/2016/08/11/7a6b4cd4-4882-11e6-8dac-0c6e4accc5b1_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.123bc0511720
  6. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-pakistan-glaciers-highway/pakistans-glaciers-face-new-threat-highways-black-carbon-idUSKBN1D30WK
  7. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-06-29/biodiversity-antarctica-climate-change-increases-ice-free-areas/8662054
  8. https://chge.hsph.harvard.edu/climate-change-and-biodiversity-loss

 

 April 2018: Photo showing rescue operation in progress past a rock and ice avalanche in Ultar Hunza (source: Pamir times)190769_32934_updates

 

 

World Suicide Prevention Day

 

Written and Narrated by: Fozia Tahir

Global issues are getting complex day by day. safeguarding peace, protecting human rights, establishing the framework for international justice, climate change, and refugee crises are some of the major challenges that the globe is facing at the moment. As time passes by the list is only growing and the issues are getting complex. The one that you are affected to directly grabs more of your attention than the others. For me in recent times, suicide has been one such issue.

Suicide is the 14th leading cause of death worldwide, responsible for 1-5% of all mortality. Because suicide is a conscious decision of an individual to end their life, developing methods to predict and prevent its occurrence in majority is majorly the responsibility of psychologists, psychiatrist and related metal health professionals.

But before we get into the details of this topic it’s important to understand what theories and models have been developed to understand the suicidal behaviour of people. Contemporary models of suicide are diathesis stress in origin. These models suggest that the negative results of pre-existing vulnerability factors are especially pronounced when activated by stress. There are models such as that of linehan’s model of emotional dysregulation which underpins dialectal behaviour therapy i.e. to help people suffering from mood disorders as well as those who need to change patterns of behavior that are not helpful, such as suicidal ideation. While, other theoretical developments have focused on an individuals’ appraisal system.

Interpersonal theory of suicide:

According to this theory when the desire for suicide merges with the capability for suicide this can lead to near lethal suicide attempts and are associated with thwarted belongingness such as feeling lonely and perceived burdensomeness that is considering yourself a burden and not seeing a way out of it.

Integrated motivational volitional model of suicidal behaviour:

This model conceptualises suicide as a behaviour rather than a mental disorder that develops through motivational and volitional phase. It suggests that there is pre motivational phase that could be due to the environment you live in, major life events, or diathesis leading to a motivational phase in which an individual feels defeat and humiliation and feels entrapped in the situation and this leads to suicide ideation and leading the individual to the volitional phase where they may develop suicidal behaviour..

I think both these theories are correct in different situations. The basic idea is that this behaviour develops over a period of time in an individual and can be taken care of if people around them notice their behaviour and help them with it.

vulnerability to suicidal behaviours: risk and protective factors

Risk factors are characteristics that make it more likely that individuals will consider, attempt, or die by suicide. Protective factors are characteristics that make it less likely that individuals will consider, attempt, or die by suicide.

Factors associated with suicide risk can be classified into four groups

  1. Personality and individual differences- e.g. hopelessness, impulsivity, perfectionism, neurotisicm and extroversion, optimism and resilience
  2. Cognitive factors: cognitive rigidity, rumination, thought suppression, autobiographical memory biasis, belongingness and burdensomeness, fearlessness about injury and death, pain insensitivity, problem solving and coping, agitation, implicit associations, future thinking, goal adjustment, entrapment
  3. Social factors: social isolation,exposure to death by suicide of others, assortative homiphilly, contagion, social transmission
  4. Negative life events: childhood adversities, traumatic life events, physical illness, deceiving adulthood, interpersonal stressors, psychological stress response

Major protective factors include the following:

  • Effective mental health care • Connectedness to individuals, family, community, and social institutions • Problem-solving skills • Contacts with caregivers

Role of faith

As I was thinking about prevention I thought at first of faith. As I am a muslim and suicide is forbidden or what we call “haram” in Islam.

In Surah 16 verse 16 is is said about death, “when their time comes they cannot delay it for a single hour,nor can they bring it forward by a single hour”. It is believed that the soul of a person who commits suicide doesn’t salvate and remains astray on earth.. that scares me and the idea that this life is a gift of god to me that the soul shall one day return to him is what I have learnt and believed in my whole life.. to see if other faiths say the same I read a little about each faith.

Christianity too believes that life is given by god and human beings are made in god’s image. Suicide is considered a mortal sin. The catechism asserts, “we are stewards, not owners of the life god has entrusted to us. it is not our to dispose off”.

Hinduism and Busdhism regards all life forms to be sacred and follow the principle of ahimsa of no harm. With the exception of prayopavesa in Hinduism.

According to a chief Jewish rabbi the value of human life is infinite and beyond measure so the worth of a single second in life is as high as that of seventy years.

Jews don’t bury the bodies in the same cemetery and don’t perform all the ritual for them.

Sikh gurus have as well rejected suicide considering it an interface in god’s plan suffering is a part of karma and should be accepted by human beings to make the best of situation life has given them.

Suicide Journalism

The next issue of utmost importance is the projection of suicides. Certain type of news coverage can increase the likelihood of suicide. Suicide is a public health issues and some suicide deaths maybe newsworthy but the graphics and the headlines should be thought through. The news should encourage help seeking displaying the suicide helplines at all times instead of showing the pictures of location or mourning. The audience should be informed without sensationalising the news. Such as instead of speaking to the police the issue of public health should be discussed to inform the audience and talk about cause and treatment options.

Warning signs: talking about dying and ways to kill, feeling hopeless, feeling trapped or having unbearable pain, being burden, increasing alcohol and drug use, acting anxious and agitated, mood swings, feeling lonely, sleeping too little or too much and so on

You should not leave such people alone,and keep sharp objects alcohol and toxic chemicals away from them

I hear news of young people taking their lives from where I come that is the northen areas of Pakistan and I think to myself what can I do about this? While I am sitting here I can only educate myself and everyone else about it. Get them to speak about it.

No matter how hard life is on you, you have to pick yourself up, make it meaningful, find the purpose of your life and if you haven’t found the purpose of your life yet then go and find. You have perhaps heard many people say this but you need to know what is it that you enjoy doing the most?

As you evolve in the process of finding the purpose of your life, you will find peace with things, events and people in your life and you will learn to heal if you were hurt..

We should heal slowly and steadily. We must all find peace in living and not in death.. so let us all unite together with the hope the suicides this year will be less than last year, that we will all listen to each other, understand one another, accept each other.. and not just that we will also encourage each other to live and we must all believe that the best is yet to come..

Let us not feel trapped.. let us enjoy our freedom while we may.

This year the world suicide prevention day is on the 10th of September. The theme for this year is ‘take a minute, change a life’..

So take out a minute..speak to people around you, people who you know and love and people you don’t know..as it is said everyone is a fighting a battle that we don’t know about so we should be kind to them.

Lastly thank you for joining us for this podcast we are hoping to be able to do more on this topic, if there is any way we can help you? If we can speak to you for a minute, or speak to a mental health expert on your behalf we would be happy to do that.. for others please take a minute and change a life

Thanks

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