Pakistan fighter pilot wins battle of sexes, now she’s ready for war
With an olive green head scarf poking out from her helmet, Ayesha Farooq flashes a cheeky grin when asked if it is lonely being the only war-ready female fighter pilot in Pakistan.
Farooq, hailing from Bahawalpur, is one of 19 women who have become pilots in the Pakistan Air Force over the last decade – there are five other female fighter pilots, but they have yet to take the final tests to qualify for combat. (complete article)
Why Finnish babies sleep in cardboard boxes (Helena Lee)
For 75 years, Finland’s expectant mothers have been given a box by the state. It’s like a starter kit of clothes, sheets and toys that can even be used as a bed. And some say it helped Finland achieve one of the world’s lowest infant mortality rates.
It’s a tradition that dates back to the 1930s and it’s designed to give all children in Finland, no matter what background they’re from, an equal start in life.
The maternity package - a gift from the government - is available to all expectant mothers.
It contains bodysuits, a sleeping bag, outdoor gear, bathing products for the baby, as well as nappies, bedding and a small mattress.
With the mattress in the bottom, the box becomes a baby’s first bed. Many children, from all social backgrounds, have their first naps within the safety of the box’s four cardboard walls. (complete article)
Black Cosmo by Maimouna Guerressi (an Italian-born artist who converted to Islam and joined the Muric Muslim community in Senegal, Africa). For more of her work and an interview: THE SUFI FRIDA KAHLO.
There isn’t much I can do to remove bigotry from my country but can at least help with spellings and grammar. Apparently some people still believe there is a CONSPIRACY behind the whole Malala incident. (complete discussion here)
How India treats its women (by Soutik Biswas)
With more than 24,000 reported cases in 2011, rape registered a 9.2% rise over the previous year. More than half (54.7%) of the victims were aged between 18 and 30. Most disturbingly, according to police records, the offenders were known to their victims in more than 94% of the cases. Neighbours accounted for a third of the offenders, while parents and other relatives were also involved. Delhi accounted for over 17% of the total number of rape cases in the country.
And it is not rape alone. Police records from 2011 show kidnappings and abductions of women were up 19.4%, women being killed in disputes over dowry payments by 2.7%, torture by 5.4%, molestation by 5.8% and trafficking by an alarming 122% over the previous year. (Complete article)
Last night was so tired that I could not even blog about the day, so here is for yesterday.
I had decided to spend the day seeing the famous mosques and some museums, so after getting up in the morning I walked up to the Sulemaniye Mosque through the sides of the bazaar. Apart from the marvellous architecture it also sports a wonderful view towards the Galata tower, took some photos there. Then walked through the “little Kurdistan” part of the town blaming myself for why I forgot to write down the name of the famous Kabab shop.
From there I made my way through the winding bazaars to the Yani mosque (New Mosque). Usually I do not express my religious side much and keep it quite personal but there I heard one of the most beautiful recitations ever in my life. It wasn’t even a very personal feeling because I did hear two three people even cry with loud voice. Again took pictures there and got out, saw kids feeding and playing with pigeons which obviously meant some good photo opportunities. Though one of the old ladies selling the bird-feed didn’t like me taking her pictures. She covered her face with a small broom and said something in Turkish which I am sure was something angry, so am not really inclined for a translation of that.
Here I had to make a choice, either I could take a boat ride to Bosphore or continue down to the Sultanmehmet. What I decided in the end was that if am done before the sunset I will come back otherwise will leave it to Wednesday. I reached the Hagia Sophia, queued up got the ticket and saw the marvel of the architecture with my own eyes. It is just out of the world what they were able to achieve in scale and ingenuity in those times. Though lack of lighting inside made taking pictures quite a challenge, I did enjoy the company of my fellow tourists. One old American couple standing near the Altar looking at the mosaic of Jesus with Virgin Mary said, “look at least even with all their Allah, Baby Jesus is still at the top”. But personally I really liked the idea how the Turks have restored the Christian elements of the once Cathedral, restores your faith in co-existence.
In one corner of the Hagia Sophia there is a “wishing column” where people put their fingers in a hole and turn it one complete clockwise circle. It is rumoured to grant them their wishes, and goes back to the Emperor Justinian who got rid of his headache by just leaning against the pillar. Amid the long queue of people lining up for their wishes at the Column all I saw was a tall man getting angry on a kid who jumped the queue!
On the back of Hagia Sophia there are Royal tombs, and when I was there they were also exhibiting pictures from Hajj. Got out from there wanted to go to Topakapi Museum but the security guard told me that it is already closed and I should come in tomorrow. So I headed towards the Sultanahmet Mosque or more famously the Blue Mosque. It is a beautiful mosque, with the same Hagia Sophia inspired architecture you find elsewhere in Istanbul.
One thing which did disturb me a little was that after the prayers were over some women were just walking around the main hall of the mosque and all of sudden this caretaker of the mosque appears who angrily tells them to leave the main hall right away. It is quite unfortunate that even after so many years and with all the Secularisation of Turkey, we are still keeping our women out of the mosque! They could still pray on the corners in segregated parts but I am not even trying to stir up the old controversy of mixed prayers, it is well after the prayers are done.
Out in the courtyard I sat down with a dog taking a nap, and saw a Japanese tourist fix a tripod for his point-and-shoot camera, put it on timer, pose and then check the picture before repeating the same step. As of now I think that is the only downside of travelling alone if you like your pictures to be taken!
Got out of the mosque walked to the main Devan Yolu Street, saw some old Cemeteries with their interesting tomb stones and engravings. Had lunch on a street side cafe (add more “no you are not a Pakistani” jokes here, which are not even funny any more). Then walked down to the Kumkapi harbour and sat there till the sunset taking some pictures. Encountered a man with balloons tied on strings and beer bottle/cans spread around the stones, so you can shoot them with an air gun. However apparently he also didn’t like my idea of taking his picture and probably I also do not want the translation of what he said. Apart from all this Kumkapi is also a very historic place with once a large concentration of Armenians in the area, and the riots around late 1800s.
Afterwards I thought maybe I should go back to my hotel, take some rest and then try some of those Kumkapi seafood. But once back I quickly realised that even the urge of food won’t take me far after how much tired I was. Ate inside the hotel and called it a night, don’t even remember when I fell asleep.
p.s. can’t proofread it! sorry!
“If Malala had been killed in a drone attack, you would neither have heard updates on her medical status, nor would she be called ‘daughter of the nation,’ nor would the media make a fuss about her. General Kiyani would not have come to visit her and neither would the world media be constantly reporting on it.
The pliant Western media and its liberals do not give even 1% of this attention to the Pakistani and Yemeni girls their government kills with drones everyday. Even humanitarian outrage, they only express it when it serves the interests of their snake governments…”
—Professor Fouzi Slisli
Referring to 15 year old Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman.
Thankfully it doesn’t attempt to make one sound like a lesser evil.
Flag at half mast at #Malala’s school. Head of nearby school says half pupils not attended since attack - @AleemMaqbool via @BBCWorld
The Telegraph: The modern-day virgin birth
Emmimarie Jones knew her daughter had been conceived without a father; in 1956, she almost convince the world she was right
On November 6 1955, a story appeared on the front page of the Sunday Pictorial that was to double the newspaper’s circulation in a single day. Sporting the headline, “Doctors now say it doesn’t always need a man to make a baby”, the tabloid shouted that virgin births were no myth, and that there was a scientist who could prove it. The rare biological process which would enable this to happen was known as parthenogenesis, the paper informed its readers.
But the Pictorial’s editors didn’t stop there. Halfway down the page appeared three words, in bold block capitals: “Find The Case”. Sensationally, the paper was inviting women to come forward if they believed their daughters were the result of a virgin birth. If any woman’s case was proved correct, by a panel of leading doctors, she and her daughter were set to make medical – indeed, human – history. For the next year, the search for a virgin mother would grip the nation, and the world. The paper’s circulation figures, meanwhile, grew to an unprecedented six million. (Complete article)
Mute Indian stranded in Pakistan desperate for home
When the South Asian neighbours celebrate 65 years of independence next week, a deaf and mute Indian woman stranded in Pakistan will be thinking of only one thing: how to get home to see her family.
Geeta, now 21, was found by police 13 years ago, sitting alone and disorientated on a train that had come across the border into Pakistan’s eastern city of Lahore.
As no one claimed her, officers took Geeta to the Edhi Foundation, Pakistan’s largest and best-known charity, in whose care she has remained ever since.
“But, fortunately she could speak and tell us her whereabouts, which enabled us to arrange for her safe return.” For now, Geeta watches Indian soap operas on a small TV, and observes the dawn to dusk fast of the Muslim holy month of Ramazan, although she also prays at a small Hindu shrine in a corner of Bilqees’ veranda.
“She worships there and fasts as well with us,” explains Bilqees.
Geeta touches her lips and ears to indicate that her siblings can hear and speak. Then her smile tinges with sadness. She looks at the sky and moves her arm slowly upwards, mimicking a plane.
“She says she wants to go home as soon as possible,” interjects Ismat, a teenager who lives in the orphanage upstairs. (Complete news)
This makes me sad and happy at the same time. Sad on part of a child separated from her parents for over 13 years, and happy on how there is still hope for Humanity. Thank you Bilqis Edhi!
You chose to bring up your family in Warrington, but although you lived in Warrington, your social and cultural attitudes were those of rural Pakistan and it was those you imposed on your childrenMr Justice Roderick Evans while sentencing parents of Shafilea Ahmed on murder of their own daughter in 2003. Am personally glad that the Judge was kind enough to pinpoint the exact problem instead of a typical general stereotype of all the Pakistanis. Complete details of this tragic case and the judgement.
A hideaway for India’s rebel couples
Indian couples that have angered their families by pursuing “forbidden” relationships are increasingly seeking refuge in special shelters run by the police.
The pale 19-year-old girl, Krishna, is sitting in a small room at a police barracks in northern Haryana state.
All life is wilting in the soaring summer heat outside. A glossy poster of the Swiss Alps mocks us from the whitewashed wall.
When asked whether her family could really kill her husband, because she married outside her caste without permission, she hides her head in the folds of her long diaphanous scarf and nods.
“Yes, yes, they can.” (Complete article)