Month: October 2016

Harassment Gone Unpunished

I was leaving my workplace in the lift and the courier guy asked me: “Do you work here?” A pointless question. When I looked up, he was holding his phone up. Then I heard a camera sound (taking a picture). I said “You’ve taken a picture!” but he said he hadn’t. When the lift opened and I saw the office guard, I told him to give me the phone. He fidgeted with it before the office guard snatched it from him. He didn’t find my picture but saw a lot of pictures of girls which were obviously taken unknowingly- someone studying, sitting somewhere, that kind of stuff.

When my organization spoke to his supervisor, he (the supervisor) was surprised because this behavior did not go so well with the fact that he was a bearded guy, and prayed 5 times a day. Anyway, the CEO said he would take care of it but I didn’t see it happen. Even after some probing, I got no apology, no explanation, nothing… and that was pretty much the end of the story.

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‘I Stare Him Down’: Venus Driving School’s Ghazala Bangash

If you live in Islamabad, you know Ghazala Bangash. You may not know her by her real name, but you have likely have taken classes at her decades-old Venus Driving School for women. And if you haven’t, then someone in your immediate social circle inevitably will have. We sat down with Ghazala, an institution unto herself, for a very interesting conversation on men, dealing with harassment on the road,  the Islamabad Traffic Police, and much more. 

Before interviewing Ghazala Bangash, we had speculated enthusiastically about the driving school’s unusual name, speculating it had its origins in Roman mythology. Ghazala quickly put an end to our assumptions when she told us that the school was named eponymously: ‘My mother’s friend named me Venus as a young girl. When I started my own business I wasn’t sure what I was should call it. My friends weren’t sure, either. Then I thought of my nickname; that this name isn’t that common, so I should go with Venus.’

Still, she agrees that the name has some symbolic value. ‘It’s providential, in a way. For one, my name is Venus, plus the driving school is an effort to help women…No one ever takes the woman’s side.’

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