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Those where the days…WAF early years

Back in the late seventies and early eighties, a number of previously unrelated Pakistani women returned to Karachi from various universities in the west. They carried with them strange and radical ideas about women’s rights. For example, one of them created a group called ‘TUF’ or ‘The Union Feminist’.

For that time, in a Pakistan under Zia, it was a bold step that bordered on heroic even though it was a little obscure for most ‘local girls’ who attended those early meetings. ‘Feminism’ or ‘the women’s liberation movement’ was radical enough without needing fortification by Marx. Most of us had already understood that “the personal is political.”

There was no social media back then and ‘uppity’ women were often labelled derogatorily in what media was available. Mughrib zudda, kuttay balon waleen (western influenced, with shorn hair) was one epithet often hurled at them. And if these women did not have more in common with each other than that the general’s demeanour inspired revolt in them, equally, they did not show it. They had begun to dissolve their dissimilarities for the joint venture ahead.

Artist Nayyer Jamil’s home was where I met up with the launch of ‘Tehreek e Niswan’ which didn’t start out as a theatre/dance group. However, nothing in my background could relate this Persian sounding Urdu title to Kathie Sarachild ‘Consciousness-Raising: A Radical Weapon’ that had given rise to my feminist tooth. Continue Reading

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