Real Beauty is The Smile of GOD

After hearing the word “Beauty”, we surely think of happiness that soothes our mind and heart.

Actually it has two meanings. If we consider it as apparent then it will be outer or facial Beauty. Otherwise it will be considered as inner-self of human beings. Inner beauty is actually reflected by face in true sense, but facial beauty also matters a lot. To enhance the beauty of face, the maintenance is essential. Facial beauty is no doubt blessed or gifted to us by Allah Almighty, but to enhance this bounty we must take care of it with suitable precautions.

In true sense, Beauty is the “Smile of God”. Here are some authentic tips to maintain facial beauty:-

  1. Take a lot of water daily, approximately 8 glasses throughout the day.
  2. When wakeup in the morning, take two glass of water well before breakfast then with intervals.
  3. Wash your face daily with face-wash, which are available in the market according to your skin (dry, oily, normal) instead of soap. Try this practice at-least 2 times specially in morning and in evening before going to bed.
  4. Use cleansing milk at night and cleanse your face thoroughly. Pure milk or extracted rose water be used for cleansing. Cotton or soft tissues be utilized for applying milk or rose water on face gently.
  5. Daily use raw or uncooked vegetables as salad. Make it your regular habit.
  6. Take proper hygienic diet, which is beneficial for health and skin also.
  7. Use Moisturizing lotion at night that will be helpful for the freshness of your skin.

These tips are finite but possess valuable effects. Exercising them regularly will surely give you a better skin and also paved the way for healthy journey of life.

Useful Makeup Advice for Teens

You should take makeup advice especially if you are going to wear makeup for the first time. Getting expert makeup advice for teens will let you know how you can make your personality glowing and add charming look to your persona via makeup. Foremost thing you should keep in your mind is it shouldn’t look awkward when you’ve painted your face. For teens, expert advice is as below that will surely serve you in right way:

  • You want to enhance your features thus, less is more. It means, you need to apply little makeup instead of making its layers on your face. You surely don’t want to look you’ve spend hours on applying thick layers of makeup. You should try to apply minimal amount of makeup as it will not only be beneficial for your skin but it will give you natural look. For teens, there is no need of applying lots of foundation or any at all. It’s better to use only tinted moisturizer with lighter formula. If you want to cover blemishes of your face, lightly dab concealer on specific areas needed.
  • Turning to eyes, go ahead with a little bit of eye shadow. Apply medium shade eye shadow that can help you maintain an everyday look. To make your eye attractive, applying little mascara to your lashes is an excellent idea. If your eyes are blue, you can enhance them by applying brown mascara and if you are having dark eyes, slightly darker mascara will work best.
  • In order to retain fresh look, opt for lip gloss. Using lip gloss instead of dark lipstick will give you natural look. It will give you shimmery glow if you will skip heavy or bright lipstick.

The One And Only

for the first eight years of my life I was the only child. I was spoilt rotten and got all of my parents’ attention in all ways imaginable. But then came this little bundle of `joy’ one day that stole my parents from me. I felt neglected; I began flunking at school and generally felt miserable. Though I gradually accepted this new person, I still wondered what it would have been like if I had stayed my parents’ one and only.Till about twenty years ago it was seldom a case of choosing to have just one child. An only child was considered a bit of an oddity; often shy, over-protected and socially withdrawn. Now, when having children in one’s thirties or even forties is almost the norm, a “new” only child has emerged.
Indeed, today’s only child benefits from the knowledge that it is the product of a positive pa-rental choice. Parents of single children no longer have to worry about their child being lonely or at a social disadvantage; mobility and the re-sources to support an active social life have put an end to that.
Says Marya, 35, an only child and mother of an only child, “I’ve never missed out on anything. My parents did not want another child because they felt that they did not have the temperament for another one. I feel that I don’t either. It’s not like I had siblings and someone took them away. Being an only child was simply my reality, I knew nothing else. I had friends, I interacted with adults. Like any other kid, I’m sure I got bored and my parents probably had to work a little harder to provide for my entertainment, but loneliness wasn’t a pervasive feeling”.
Ahmad, 45, is often asked if being an only child made him a spoilt brat, he says “How does one an¬swer that? I didn’t have to share things at home, mainly because there was no one to share them with. I had friends, I went to school, I went to camp, so I think I learnt some basic social skills. Did my parents over-indulge me? I think it de¬pends more on your philosophy than theirs. To some people I had more than enough, to others, I suppose I was deprived. Did I have opportunities that I wouldn’t have had if I had had siblings? You bet! I had some wonderful opportunities by virtue of being an only child as my parents’ efforts and
resources simply didn’t have to be divided. There’s nothing wrong or bad about that”.
Many couples are increasingly concerned about providing a good education. Some are keen to give their child a private education or, at least, private tuition in certain subjects. If this means that they can only afford to have one child, then so be it. Says Marium, 31, “Me and my husband plan to keep it at one, keeping in view the current reces¬sion. We want our child to be well equipped to face a rather difficult and competitive world. All this costs money and we don’t have a lot.”
Parents of a single child have more time to focus on the general aspects of child development and learning issues and can give their child that individual attention that makes such a difference. Studies have proven that an only child often does better in life for the same reasons that first-born do. First-born have their parents’ individual attention for those important first few years and there benefit from greater stimulation. As a result first-born are often high achievers in later life. In the case of the only child, this individual attention is available throughout childhood and can put them in a very strong position in later adult life.
There was a time when having a single child had something of a stigma attached to it. People often assumed that parents had a fertility problem and that no one could be `so selfish’ as to stop at one. That attitude is gradually disappearing, though parents opting to limit their family to one still face disapproval.
Says Rabia, 35, “Elderly ladies of the family of-ten single me out regarding my decision to keep my son an only child, asking me what I would do if he died or developed some health problems. My husband is a business man, he travels a lot and I can’t see myself raising another child alone. It’s a lot of work. People should respect my decision.”
Often parents have no problem sustaining a good relationship and enjoying life when they have only one child to cope with. It is when a sec¬ond baby appears in a couple of years’ time that difficulties can surface. A mother of a single child doesn’t have to deal with being pregnant and look¬ing after a toddler at the same time. Sleepless nights are certainly less of a problem if you only have one child, in fact, the entire logistics and or¬ganisation of having more than one child can over¬whelm a couple’s personal relationship.
Trying to sustain an uninterrupted career path is another reason to opt for a single child. According to Naveed and Zehra, both in their 30s, “We are both professionals and as our careers become more and more demanding we will have greater time constraints. With a single child it will be rela¬tively easier to adjust our time schedules. Having another child would only complicate matters as tic would have to start all over again.”
An only child today is completely different from those of just a few decades ago. Not only are they far more numerous, they are happier in dividuals who are well-balanced and more socially adept

Mirror, mirror on the wall…

Have you ever counted how many times you peer into the mirror everyday? According to a survey carried out in the UK, the national average for women is 34 times a day, which works out to every half an hour in a 16 hour day. However, this obsession with one’s looks is no longer reserved for the fairer sex. Men are not far behind as the same survey reveals that men peek at the mirror 27 times a day.
After all, the way you look does reflect your confidence. You’ll find yourself walking with a slight spring in your step and with your head held an inch higher if you’ve had your hair straightened or your face polished. Our looks al-so play an important role in how people perceive us.
“Imagine this situation: you walk into a bank. There are four counters. Your eyes flick over all four people. Believe me, you `will’ find yourself gravitating towards the one who is physically more pleasant to look at,” says 35-year old Rana with a smirk.
“When people come to my company for a job, the first aspect we are supposed to pay attention to while scrutinising them is their appearance. Someone who is naturally beautiful or strikingly attractive is definitely given priority as compared to an average looking person or a person with a physical flaw,” says Rehan who heads the Human Resource Department of a multinational company.
But there is a sea of people out there, who are not blessed with an hour glass body or flawless skin; who struggle with hair fall and bald spots, acne and obesity. But that doesn’t make them lock themselves up in their rooms and declare self exile. That doesn’t mean that they don’t make a success of their lives.
Forty-year-old Zehra, who has recently been promoted to a managerial post at a pharmaceutical company, is far from a size zero. “My obesity has been something I’ve had to learn to live with ever since I entered my teens. I suffer from a hormonal imbalance and despite a lot of medicines, I’ve always been labelled `fat’. I have faced prejudice at work but I’ve learned to take it all in my stride. Today, I’ve proved my mettle, I’m proudly independent and suc¬cessful.”
Zehra admits that it’s important to look presentable but surely what people do and achieve is more important than how they look, she claims. “It’s important not to jump to conclusions about people or judge a book by its
cover. In my personal experience, peo¬ple who pay excessive attention to their looks are those who are actually compensating
the absence of a skill or making up for a charac¬ter flaw. ”
It’s good to pay attention to your appearance, but if thinking about the way you look takes over your life, that’s when it becomes obsessive. Some people’s behaviour crosses the lines of acceptability and may manifest itself into the form of a phobia or disor¬der. They even have a name for it: the Body Dysmorphic Disorder, often dubbed `imagined ugliness.’ People suffering from this condition believe they are so unattractive and unacceptable to others that they even avoid social interaction for fear of being ridiculed.
This obsession with one’s looks is worse than ever in this day and age, when the media bombards us with im
ages of size zero women and a plethora of fairness creams (for both sexes) hit the market shelves, promising milk-white skin, along with instant proposals. Cosmetic companies have managed to equate perfect looks with love, success and a perfect life in our minds: and we take them at their word and spend unimaginable amounts of cash on their products .
This obsession with looks is also fuelled by the marriage market which thrives on girls who fit the criterion, i.e. tall, fair and slim. “I saw my sister suffer rejection time and again because she was too short. People acted as if her height was a deformity,” shares 28-year-old Shehnaz. “My mother would always nag her to wear two-inch heels wherever she went. Naturally I became obsessed by my height too.” Today, Shahnaz and her sister are both mar¬ried to the men of their choice. “My husband’s love and attention has brought me out of this fixation over my ap¬pearance. Being accepted for who you are is an unparal¬leled security which no fairness cream or laser treatment can provide,” is her advice to all young girls.
Twenty-five-year-old Zeenat has just bagged a B. Ed degree, topped her class and earns an enviable salary as an A’ levels teacher at a reputed school. There is, how-ever, one blemish on the canvas of her seemingly fruit¬ful existence. Her skin colour. Maybe in some part of the world her skin would be termed bronze but here she has always been labelled `kaali’ (black).
Zeenat, however, is nonchalant about her physical appearance. “As a child it was difficult in school to come to terms with the fact that people judged me by the colour of my skin. I’ve shed many tears over why my teachers and peers overlooked me. But not any more. I’ve vowed not to let my life revolve around my looks. God has blessed me with a quick mind and I’ve realised all my dreams,” she confides in me serenely. As an afterthought, she adds, “After all, in the words of Khalil Gibran: Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart!”

Secrets in the attic

I always noticed that my mum used to go up-stairs in the attic and spend hours there, and when she returned she had a glee on her face with some pretty clothes in her hands. Sometimes she took something there and re-turned empty-handed.
It was a mystery for for me and my twin sister for we were never allowed to go there and my mum possessed the only key of the attic. Once she had gone on a business trip with dad and was not expected to get back till very late at night. So I thought it was the best time to get to the most prohibited place of the house. There were three of us at home — me, my twin sister and an old maid who used to doze off most of the time while sit¬ting. We had nothing much to do and felt pretty bored.
“Let’s go to the attic,” I suggested. “That’s a great idea!” exclaimed my sister.
We looked at our maid who was snoring with her head leaning against the wall, then we sneaked upstairs. As we reached the first landing, my sister said in a shaky voice, “Let’s go back, I don’t think it’s much fun.”
“Don’t be such a coward!” I said. “Do you think there are ghosts up here? If so, let me tell you one thing, there is no such thing as ghosts! Understand?”
It was very dark there and the steps leading to the attic were narrow. The on¬ly source of light was a small ventilator in the wall from
where a bit of light was coming inside. Reaching the door-step of the attic, I saw that the han¬dle was a very an¬tique one, like the one that was com¬monly used to open a draw-bridge of a castle.
“Let’s try to open it,” I said with excitement and pulled the knob. A small door, hardly enough to let in a grownup person, opened. Inside, it was as dark as a cave. I turned my torch on. An old rusty trunk, big enough to fit a body in it, was lying in one corner of the room. “Could it be a treasure?” I thought, “Or the dead body of an unfaithful servant or a business rival of my father?”
“Let’s go back,” whispered my sister. Coming back to my senses I went on, “Don’t be a chicken, mum and dad will never let us know this secret. It’s a golden chance.” I persua¬ded her to stay on as I didn’t have the courage to investi¬gate the place on my own. Reluctantly she stepped forward and felt better when we found a light switch and turned on the bulb. Slowly, we struggled together to open the lid.
Golden, red, shock¬ing pink, emerald green, silver, blue… inside the trunk were many beautiful dres¬ses of my mom which she must have got for her wedding, along
with precious jewel¬lery. My mother must have kept them with love and care, and she must be filling the trunk with more and more precious things.
As she had a lot of interest in dresses and jewellery, my sister was in no mood to leave them lying upstairs.
She started trying them on one af¬ter the other. I came back downstairs, satisfied to have solved the mystery of the locked attic door, and sat down to watch sports on the TV

Woman on the Legal Front

Two female lawyers have been making great strides when it comes to securing rights for
women. You! takes a look 
Generally speaking, this lady is known for her work. Mrs Rashida Patel is the president of Pakistan Women’s Lawyers Association (PAWLA) and has also been the recipient of PAWLA’s `Life Time Achievement Award’. She has behind her a legacy when it comes to women’s rights. “Our mission is to create legal awareness to-wards redressing the loopholes/ gaps in the law regarding women; addressing women’s legal needs; imparting comprehensive knowledge about law relating to women in Pakistan; and to strive to empower women,” informs Ms Patel. Under her wing PAWLA has become extremely developed. It currently strives for women’s right, equality and equity by reaching out to women, ad-dressing their legal and eco­nomic issues. In addition, PAWLA is delivering profes­sional and legal services, and economic counselling to Pak­istani women. It is also actively involved in net-working with NGOs, the government and other concerned institutions. Rashida Patel has always been vocal against what she calls the `Black Laws’; laws which pre-vent women from reaching their potential and hinder their rights in the process. “These laws, such as the Hudood Ordinance, which were enacted during the Zia regime and his successors, really impede women’s way to emancipation. That is not all, Pakistan is a signatory to the UN Charter – CEAW (Convention for the Elimination of all Kinds of Discrimination against Women), and as such is bound to bring the laws of the country in conformity with this convention – so far, however, this has not been the case. We demand that the government abolish all discriminatory laws and practices against women,” she insists.

The problems do not stop at the inadequacy and at times prejudice of the law. Truly the situation is further complicated by the fact that women them-selves do not know anything about their rights. On the one hand, the laws have been interpreted in a way to benefit the male and victimize women but on the other hand women hardly know anything about the legal course of registering a case or hiring the help of a lawyer and following a court procedure.

They do not have access to counselling and also cannot pay the cost as they are mostly de-pendent on the males of their family. When it comes down to the implementation of the law, women do not have a clue as to what they are supposed to do.

Rashida is very critical of the tribal and feudal set up, in which women are looked down as inferior. It is due to this mindset that women in Pakistan are physically tortured as well as mentally and verbally abused. That’s why domestic violence is a common phenomenon and has been thriving despite the human rights activists’ hue and cry over it. No doubt, there are a number of women in Pakistan who have successfully made a mark in all walks of life be it economically, socially, politically, through sports or anything else for that matter. Many have even gone on to gain international recogni­tion for their work; however, there has been no respite from crimes against women. Instead, the cases of abuse against women have increased over the years. Only the modus operandi has changed. To bring a change, Pakistan must do away with the discriminatory laws, particularly the Hudood Ordinance. As far as the Taliban-style Shariat is concerned, it has really damaged the cause of women. The women in the tribal and feudal set-ups are already exploited and the Taliban mentality has further added to their woes.

Rashida has also written a book titled `Woman versus Man,’ which discusses legalities concerning the Hudood Ordinance and Zina, family laws, abuse, marriage, divorce, adultery, maintenance of children, contraception and crimes of honour. It is an indispens­able guide for lawyers and women. Eminently readable, containing several case studies and real life examples the book is an essential read for all.

Women on the Legal Front

Noted Lawyer and human rights activist Asma Jahangir is another lawyer of inter-national repute. She expresses similar views on the status of women in Pakistan. She is the current Chairperson of the Pakistan Human Rights Commission (HRCP) and has also been Special Rapporteur of the UN Commission on Human Rights.
HRCP undertakes activities in the areas of awareness, monitoring, fact-finding, activist mobilisation, lobbying, agitation, and intervention in courts related to human rights violation and deprivation. One of its main aims is spreading awareness about human rights amongst the people. The main idea here is to mobilize public opinion by collecting information and disseminating knowledge about human rights.
“The laws of our country are very discriminatory against women. On the average, over .500 cases of abuse on women take place every year. It is also pertinent to note here that only 10 per cent of the cases are re-ported while the remaining 90 go unreported.
Judging from these figures it is not hard to analyse the state of women’s rights in our society. The cold hard fact here is that all women are not brave enough to speak for themselves. They can-not file a complaint against their family members; most cannot afford any judicial actions
against people they call their own. Most of the women are not economically independent, so they wouldn’t dare go to court as they need money to hire a lawyer and bear other expenses for the procedure,” informs Asma Jahangir, who has been defending the rights of .women irrespective of their class and creed for decades.
If and when a woman finds herself in a sticky situation, ultimately she has to learn to live with it. In the rural areas, it is often the case that the family men themselves implicate their women; here the women cannot actually go ahead and do any
thing at all because they will be left homeless and more helpless than before. It is important to state that over 50 per cent, of women do not even have pacifisms to lawyers and cannot afford the court expenses. And it is not just the rural areas but also the urban areas which are witness to a number of domestic violence cases such as karo-kari, watta satta, sang chatti, stove burning, and disfigurement through Acid throwing and even the practice of marrying women to the Holy Quran.
The HRCP has made these cases a personal mission. Numerous cases of domestic abuse are received by the organisation on a daily basis. Some of these cases also include harassment at the workplace and of women languishing in jails. “During our visits to prisons, we find that most of the women inmates have been implicated in false cases by their suspicious family members. Some of the women even have their minor children living in jails with them in deplorable conditions; these children are under constant risk of becoming hardened criminals,” laments Asma. It is these jails which also expose the women to a number of diseases including HIV Aids due to the presence of foreign women.
Talking about the legal front Asma advocates the abolishment of the discriminatory laws against women such as the Hudood ordinance and the jirga system. “The jirga system is based on cruelty where the local sardars and feudal lords can pass verdicts which al-most always have a complementary clause ending or destroying the life of innocent women.
Matrimony and the law
Islam and our laws allow women to marry out of her choice. But our social setup interprets it wrong. Had we rightly interpreted the laws then cases of the marriages of Humaira Abbas, Riffat Afridi and others would not have made headlines. There is also shortage of shelter homes for women. We need to provide more shelters to women on the pattern of Darul Aman and Edhi Homes. The irony is that with the passage of time, the women’s rights record is deteriorating despite the Government’s claims that they are fighting for women’s rights and improving the situation.
The Taliban must go
Ms. Jahangir, one, of Time Magazine’s `Women of the Year in 2003,’ strongly advocates rule of the law, “Rule of the Law is what can guarantee rights for everyone irrespective of one’s gender. Just imagine: Islamic militants in the southern parts of the country have set up self-styled courts which have further antagonised women, rendering them further helpless to have access to their rights. Areas like Swat, Buner and Malakand etc have been hijacked by the religious fanatics, who are dead against giving women any kind of rights. The way the girls’ colleges and schools were burnt speaks for itself and defines the mentality of the Taliban.”
Asma believes that every religion pleads goodness and no religion advocates the violation of the basic human rights. It is the wrong interpretation of the lawsby mullahs, which has landed women in distress. It is wrong for one to thrust religion on anybody and rigid and unrealistic interpretations of Islam need to be changed.

Dress circle

Such restrictions usually follow a sequence: Ban on jeans may lead to further bans, for instance, on bare heads; and it’ll go on and on and perpetuate. I don’t think this kind of compulsion is insignificant. This won’t save us from Talibanisation.
on a mid-Tuesday morning last week, Lahore’s Kinnaird College has a rather lazy feel. Girls, mostly in groups, loiter around the courtyard shaded by age-old trees; some hurry along climate of conservatism and the perceived threat to security. It is sad that a universally accepted casual dress is being banned here,” says Prof Sirajuddin. She however believes that educational institutions have a reason to be cautious.
But, according to her, this is not necessar­ily the right approach. “The only way to fight Talibani­sation is by communal coming together. Not be driven by con­tradictions and hypocrisies,” she urges Dr Hasan views ban on girls wearing jeans as an outcome of Talibanisation  – “liberalism or enlightenment cannot be con-fined to dress code. We need a long-term policy and a short-term programme to fight obscu­rantism. A whole exercise in psychological warfare is needed to change the mindset of the pub­lic.”
Not allowing jeans in today’s times is a symbol of submission. It has nothing to do with the general perception of jeans signifying western values and hence against our eastern culture. In fact, it is all about the fear of the Taliban marching towards us. Such pet­tiness about wearing jeans or sleeveless shirts or for that matter a black abaya will get us nowhere. Importantly, we have to find ways to be ourselves, our own selves. It’ll take loads of guts – and desperation.I probably to a lecture room, others cluster around benches or in verandas deep in some conversation… what’re they talking about; gossiping? I’m curious to know. I look around to observe their dress code and see colourful dupattas, long and short shirts with loose trousers or shalwars, most­ly bare headed, an occasional black burqa – but no jeans.
My visit comes a week after the news of ban on jeans at KC gained some press cover-age. Reportedly, the KC administration imposed restriction on jeans and tight-fitted dresses in lieu of possible terrorist threats to liberal educational institutions. The students are instructed to wear eastern attire with a mandatory dupatta — and these measures, Dr Nikhat Khan, Principal Kinnaird College Lahore, told an English newspaper, were in line with the government notification on the
recommended security for schools and col leges.
But, Rubina Shahid, senior KC teacher, has a different point of view: “Media is unnecessarily getting caught up with the jeans issue and spreading panic in the soci­ety. It has nothing to do with Talibanisation.” She explains that KC has always advocated a modest dress code, which is cotton shalwar kameez with dupatta. “Jeans have been restricted on KC campus for years, just like sleeveless shirts, loud make-up and flashy jewellery – basically anything that’s ostenta­tious is not allowed,” she informs TNS. She shows a `yellow card’ issued to a student for wearing jeans in Oct 2008 to prove that the College administration has kept a check due on the students’ dress code. “But pehaps have penalised them for violating it only in rare cases,” she states Like most other educational institutions realizing the Taliban threat, KC, too, has beefed-up its security. Students are checked at the gate, their bags are searched, and also the entry of cars inside the College premises has been restricted. “Now we are showing much greater security concern and are fol­lowing the rules more diligently – and in the process the students’ attire gets checked,” she says. Shahid brushes aside as “rubbish” that KC is getting wary of the Taliban threat — and hence adopting possible precautions. At most she admits “the condition is insecure. We have to be careful”.
Some students of 4th semester English Literature though accept that the College administration has become more stringent with rules in recent days because of the increasing threat from the Taliban. “Men stare at us when we enter or leave the Col­lege. We feel insecure. So, I feel, the dress restriction is for our benefit. The general environment is such that we have to show more restrain in our dressing up,” says Shahrina Farrukh.
Whatever the rationale behind the strict reinforcement of the dress code at KC – an age-old dress restriction or precaution against possible terrorist attacks, it encour­aged the Government College University to follow suit. The University has set up a “Such restrictions usually follow a sequence: Ban on jeans may lead to further bans, for instance, on bare heads; and it’ll go on and on and perpetuate. I don’t think this kind of compulsion is insignificant. This won’t save us from Talibanisation.”
notice board at the main gate announcing restriction on wearing of jeans. GCU regis­trar Faisal Khursheed is reported to have said that the ban is for female students only.
The debate about jeans has occupied Lahoris for the whole of last week. So, what’s the problem with jeans? Rubina Shahid maintains that jeans are for casual wear, and “when girls wear them to the College their attitude towards education becomes casual too”. Prof. Shaista Sirajuddin, Head of the Eng­lish Department Punjab University, believes, Jeans are associated with the West, a specif­ic world order”. Hence, this aversion to denim trousers.
Dr Mehdi Hasan says that if an institu­tion has a fixed uniform then it is obvious that any dress other than the uniform is not acceptable. But in case of no uniform, any ban or restriction cannot be justified.” He recalls that there was a time when students, teachers and government functionaries were not allowed to wear jeans because it was con­sidered an informal dress. After Americani­sation of our culture it is now quite accept-able.” What is behind the objection to jeans? “The real motive behind the objection to jeans appears to be prompted by the overall

Not a curse

marriage and child bearing may be a central part of most eastern and even western societies, but in Pakistan motherhood is almost an obsession. This ideology has strong cultural roots and society treats procreation as a foremost if not the only reason for marriage. Hence you come across a lot of couples who have become parents by the time first wedding anniversaries arrive.
Society generates active pressure on couples to join in the mad rush. A Pakistani woman was quoted in a research published in the Social Science and Medicine journal saying that she was “coerced” by her mother-in-law to seek treatment for fertility following the first week of her marriage. These practices are born out of a culture that treats childlessness as the worst possible misfortune. Imagine the ordeal of those couples that voluntarily delay kids, or worse still, have been unable to conceive for medical reasons, completely out of their own control.

grants-for-single-mothers-300x297
About 21.7 per cent of all couples in Pakistan are unable to have children, and most of these couples unfortunately are faced with an extreme social stigma. Despite the fact that the international male to female ratio in the known causes of infertility is about 40:60, the inability to produce children, and even just male offspring, is often regarded solely as a female problem in our society. Women hence serve as the object of most in-fertility treatments, even if the problem ac­tually lies with the male!
This traditional perception bias results in women’s excessive responsibility and guilt for reproductive failure, regardless of its ac­tual causes. Childless women are not only so­cially stigmatised and isolated, their inability to bear children also results in severe marital dissonance. Childlessness is regarded as a common cause for divorce and separation and is also the most readymade rationale for husbands to remarry, even if they have never had any medical tests to verify their own fer­tility. Hence, infertility becomes a “master status” for undermining any other merits and achievements women might have.
“All of this” says sociologist Dr Fateh Mohammad Burfat, “is because of the struc­tural hierarchical nature of Pakistani society, which is essentially male-dominated. Male infertility is a much bigger stigma than fe­male infertility; a woman can somehow still survive while being publicly known as infer-tile. But for a man this is an ignominy that he cannot hear and he will try to avoid any med­ical tests to determine his fertility status and conveniently shift the blame to the female”.
Many women have sadly internalised this cultural paradigm. So much so that in many cases, it is not the male spouse that generates the bulk of this extreme social pressure, but other women themselves. Whether it is in-laws or other random acquaintances, it is usu­ally other women who not only subject child-less women to contempt and exploitation, but some even brainwash husbands into maltreat­ing their wives.
Dr. Burfat argues that such behaviour too is a byproduct of the same social structure. “Men and women in a society are not isola­ted; their roles are conditioned by society, so it is not so hard to understand why many women themselves reinforce the value of male dominance. Women who hold the wife responsible for infertility without casting any blame on the husband are only reinforcing how they have been raised.”
The desire to have children is a natural phenomenon for most couples. So there is in­evitable and unavoidable personal psycholog­ical struggle that a childless person may ex­perience.
There is clearly no concept of privacy when it comes to the issue of child bearing. Every khala, phuphi and aunty will consider
it their God-given responsibility to bombard a newly married girl with questions like, “So, what are you waiting for?” or “When will your mom and dad be blessed with grandchil­dren?” or “When are you telling us the good news?”!
These pestering questions come just as fre­quently from close family as from complete strangers, explains one woman on condition of anonymity. “Initially. I used to take the questions in my stride, even laugh them off, but after a while they became explicit, it al-most drove me crazy but for the support of my husband. People, who hardly know me, never miss a chance to stick their nose in my business. Why should I explain to a com­pletely unknown woman sitting next to me at a wedding why I don’t have kids, and when will I, and how many I want,” she fumes
Such intrusiveness creates a milieu that further exacerbates a childless women’s awareness of her inability and further adds to a childless couple’s disappointment, despair and pain in being unable to fulfil their paren­tal instincts. For many women because moth­erhood is synonymous with femininity, they are led to believe that childless women are deprived of the most central element of their gender identity. Many, therefore, tend to suf­fer from low-self esteem, social withdrawal and other socio-psychological trauma.
The stigma is most devastating for the less educated women without careers or other non-familial aspirations. In illiterate or less educated families, particularly in rural Pakistan, they may even be subjected to do­mestic violence or other dangerous forms of so-called infertility treatments performed by local quacks that may endanger their lives.
Since the majority of Pakistani women are actually over fertile (a Pakistani woman gives birth to an average of 3.73 children compared to 1.5 in Europe and 1.9 in the US according to latest figures released by the CIA World Factbook), the problems faced by one-fifth of the country’s couples that are infertile are ob­scured amongst the myriad of overpopulation issues. Depictions of childless couples in the media are few and far between, and there is a pressing need for family planning and popu­lation welfare organisations to run mass awareness campaigns aimed at reducing and resisting the social stigma of infertility.
Additionally, male doctors should be inclu­ded in fertility treatment programmes to mo­tivate men to take fertility tests. In many ca­ses, letting go of ego issues can actually help a couple conceive

Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day does not mean that we appreciate our mother for one day in the year and then go back to our routine of neglecting her or taking her for granted; it should be a reminder that she needs to be appreciated everyday.

mother is another word for Love’, these words written on a card sent to my mother years ago, have stayed etched in some corner of my mind over the years. Maybe the reason is that it encapsulates the entire personality of a mother in just a few simple but deeply profound words. The reason being that when we describe a mother we immediately assume that everything that she does for her children is out of love.

happy-mothers flower

Her tenderness, her comforting words, her go­ing out of the way to make her children get the best, and also her strict but necessary scolding to keep her offspring in check, are all symbolic of love. Because out of love comes care. And care is the most important aspect of love. To care whether the children are well fed, well rested, well dressed, well-educated, well-mannered, etc., all spring from love. Another aspect of love
is to understand. And who can bet-ter understand her children than a mother. She un­derstands their shortcomings, their nasty behav­iour, their tears, their needs, and their failures and accepts them. And most important of all, hers is the on­ly kind of love we take for granted, or maybe can take for granted. Can

such a love ever be repaid? No, because it is unconditional. Not done out of duty but out of uncontrolled compassion.

Can just one day in the whole year be enough to pay tribute to her? Will a poem in her honour be enough? Or can a bouquet or gift given on Mother’s Day repay her for her love and devo­tion? Not really, but that does in no way mean that we should not celebrate Mother’s Day. There are many things we must do all the year round for which we have allotted one day to re-mind ourselves of their importance like Earth Day or Tobacco Day or Kashmir Day, etc. To celebrate a certain day does not mean that for the rest of the year we put these things out of our minds. For instance, tobacco kills and we need to remind ourselves of the dangers and have to stay away from this deplorable habit throughout our lives. In the same manner, Mother’s Day is not celebrated to just appreciate her for one day in the year and then go back to our routine of ne

glecting her or taking her for granted. It should be a reminder that she needs to be appreciated everyday. Of course, that also does not mean that one needs to give her expensive gifts everyday. Her best gifts are her children and their love for her.
She needs to be appreciated everyday of our lives. A mother is the most irreplaceable and precious person and even though there is nothing that we can do to fully repay what she does for us, we can try to do our bit to help or to make her life easier., Celebrate• Mother’s Day, make her a card, give her a gift, even a mug that says. `World’s best Mother’, but do a small thing everyday to make her feel special. Even if it is just making her a cup of her favourite beverage and asking her t take a few minutes to put her feet up and take a break, or helping in the kitchen or giving her asurprise by cleaning her room! Spare a couple of minutes and give her a neck massage. Even avoiding an argument by keeping calm
when she is angry and then explaining your point of view in are spectable way would be a noble thing to do. Ask her to share your childhood forays and follies, sit with her to make a family album. Accompany her to the market. There are many ways to do just a little bit everyday. Even ifshe does not tell you, she will knowin her heart and will bless you. If you do not agree with the ad-vice she gives you (of course, moth­ers are human too, even though most of the time we forget that) do not make her feel silly or stupid. In other words, `give her a break’. And a simple “Thanks Mom” goes a long way in making her feel appreciated.

And for those of us who have ailing and aged parents, it is the `litmus test’ in tolerance. They forget, they become hard of hearing, they become difficult like kids. So what? We might be in the same position later on in our lives. And a very important thing to remember is that if our own children do not see us being tolerant towards an ageing parent, they will never be tolerant towards us when we are in the same stage in our lives. The saying goes “It all comes round” and most definitely, it does. For those of us who have been unfortunate to have lost our dearest possession, a mother, do something worthwhile in her memory. Plant a tree, feed the poor or help the needy in her name. Most of all cherish her memory and thank the Almighty for the uncountable moments she made your life easier and better