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Sunday, December 30, 2012

It is getting difficult every minute!

It used to get slightly worse every year. Then it became every month. Then weeks. Then days. Now it is several times every hour.

Rape exists in India and Pakistan (as well as many other countries). The one in Delhi, the disgusting Gang-Rape, is much worse. But let’s not forget that it has happened — in some form or the other: think of Bhanwari Devi or Mukhtaarañ Mai.

There are cries for killing the rapists. I am not for killing anyone. Not even the state can do that … but that’s another debate. As far as I know, it only answers the (necessary) malevolence that takes place at such a time. But it does not alter the situation.

Adding more laws does nothing. A news report I saw said there were 25000 ‘reported’ rapes in India last year. Only one really appeared and was dealt with, in courts. In Pakistan the number is quite high, too. In both countries very few report the cases so the news we hear is a small percentage of the population that has suffered such a crime.

Men in our countries (and in many places round the world) take their ‘superiority‘ for granted, though they have maneuvered it into place. The Police, almost always men, come from the same background as the rest of the people. They joke and laugh and belittle the culprits. Lawyers, mainly men, take part in the same approach and question the culprit about the dress she wore, why she was alone, why she was out at that time.

Some men are there to threaten the victim while she is coming into the court. There are lots of men who are in the court to hear the proceedings and support the rapist. In many cases they ‘hoot’ the prisoner. There are others who are there to laugh out loud until the judge stops them. But it is always too late for the victim. The judges, mainly men, also believe in the same things that most men do. However just they may be - they ask the same questions, ‘subdue’ the victim, force her into repeating the crime scene over and over, and in some cases, are even more awful in their remarks.

In a case in Karachi that I attended, a nurse was raped by a doctor in a hospital. The judge saw her report and asked her if she has had sex before this rape. She said she had. The judge said that she was “habituated to sex and could hardly appeal for rape here”. Her brother was approached by the police and some others and took a large amount of money and never came into the court again. He has a lovely house now and lives well. The doctor has disappeared after getting a bail. The nurse was challaaned and was in prison for a long time until some NGO helped her out.

In many cases it sometimes seems that the killing the victim - as it happens sometimes - was worth much more. After the killing, at least the victim doesn’t have to care!

The question, in my opinion, is not about stronger laws, death sentences, castration laws being enforced, public hangings, and more. It is essentially about changing our attitudes at home. Punishment takes place once … but does not alter the criminalities that take place, anyway, afterwards.

Rape - we must tell school children several times as they grow up - is a penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.

We have to teach the boys that rape is a terrible crime. In schools we have to teach the children how awful this crime is. The problems it raises. The problems that persist for years, if not forever.

We have to teach the girls — and boys, too, now that homosexual rape is ‘recognised’ but hardly ever taken up as a case — how to respond in a society and how to get away from the space, if they can. If not, then what is the next thing to do. Report. Go to a support center. Go to a Doctor. Ask for a female doctor if you are a girl. Its not easy if you are a victim, but the public will support you if you do this. A few, at first, but almost all, at some point.

We must teach the journalists and the press that reporting rape cases does not include (unless the victims says so) the name or whereabouts of the victim. The pictures of mutilated bodies and images of the family crying are not what the majority of the public should be shown, either.

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Dr. Khant

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Friday, December 21, 2012

RIP Faizaan Peerzada

Every day I see your painting!

You were the warmest of all your warm brothers.

Your love of
Puppeteering, Lights, Plays, Classical Dances, and Music,
played a great part for
everyone in Pakistan
and abroad.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Deaths of Children

The disasters go on.
Each day.

Newtown (Connecticut, USA) recently lost 20 of its wonderful children - aged just 6 & 7 - to a gunman. Take a look here and read about the children.

The school also lost its teachers and the Principal who were trying to stop the disaster. One of the teachers was Victoria Soto who helped the children but was killed herself.

On Instagram someone posted a picture of hers out of respect. One commentator, Sufiyan Ayyad (who writes under 'heyimacrab'), had this to say:

Is he much different from Adam Lanza, the killer at Newtown School? I doubt it. Should someone question him? I think they should!


There's Bill Quigley
• Human Rights Lawyer
• Law Professor at Loyola University New Orleans
• Associate Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights

He talks to President Obama about the children who have died:

Remember the 20 children who died in Newtown Connecticut.

Remember the 35 children who died in Gaza this month from Israeli bombardments.
Remember the 168 children who have been killed by US drone attacks in Pakistan since 2006.
Remember the 231 children killed in Afghanistan in the first 6 months of this year.
Remember the 400 other children in the US under the age of 15 who die from gunshot wounds each year.
Remember the 921 children killed by US air strikes against insurgents in Iraq.
Remember the 1,770 US children who die each year from child abuse and maltreatment.
Remember the 16,000 children who die each day around the world from hunger.

These tragedies must end.


but, then, there is also
Larry Pratt
Gun Owners of America's Executive Director

“They have blood on their hands"
A gunman whose name we do not need to memorialize took advantage of our gun control laws to slaughter some 20 children and seven adults in a Newton, Connecticut elementary school.
In addition to the gunman, blood is on the hands of members of Congress and the Connecticut legislators who voted to ban guns from all schools in Connecticut (and most other states).  They are the ones who made it illegal to defend oneself with a gun in a school when that is the only effective way of resisting a gunman.
What a lethal, false security are the Gun Free Zone laws.  All of our mass murders in the last 20 years have occurred in Gun Free Zones.  The two people murdered a couple of days earlier in the shopping center in Oregon were also in a Gun Free Zone.
Hopefully the Connecticut tragedy will be the tipping point after which a rising chorus of Americans will demand elimination of the Gun Free Zone laws that are in fact Criminal Safe Zones.
One measure of insanity is repeating the same failure time after time hoping that the next time the failure will turn out to be a success.  Gun Free Zones are a lethal insanity.
We must tell our elected officials that they are acting as the criminals’ friends as long as they continue to support legislation that only protects criminals, not decent people
Oh, and we must also insist that these criminal friendly elected officials not even try to blame gun owners and our “gun culture” for what a criminal did.  Had a few of us been available with guns at the Newton school, most of the victims might still be alive.

Should someone question Larry Pratt? Yes. In a mental hospital, preferably.


The GOA has said that the National Rifle Association - a group that is extremely popular during elections by their supporting guns - always stays quiet in such moments and plays possum.

Should someone sensible in the NRA - and I am sure there are sensible people there - talk to its crowd? Yes! Yes! Yes!


I know there are children all over the world, including in Pakistan, Palestine, Kabul, Iraq, even Israel, where they are bombed, tortured, turned into gunmen themselves, maimed, killed — and a lot of angry bursts on the Internet ask why some of us are crying about the Newtown children, only. This is not true! We cry over all of them. But this was a rather different tragedy. One gunman killed these babies ... not a government or its allies. We must as Bill Quigley said, put a stop to all this, about all the children, everywhere. We must bring laws and enforce them. But we need to make sure that this solitary gunman's acts are not repeated - there or here - or anywhere.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

RIP Pandit Ravi Shankar

There are really no words to describe him!

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Friday, December 07, 2012

Roshan Ara Begum

6th June [?] 1917 - 6th December1982

Belonging to a family totally devoted to music listening, I had heard Roshan Ara Begum's 78 RPM records (Anyone remember those? My daughter asked me if they were old CDs!) … but the first time I heard her in a concert was when I was 13. She sang a Des, Jaunpuri, and Jhinjoti Thumri that day that were absolutely out of this world. And I was floored. 

After the concert Farrukh Chacha (2 years older than his brother, playback singer Talat Mahmood) told me that he, with his older brother, Khusro, were listening to her at an early concert some years ago. Ustad Faiyaz Khan Sahab (Agra Gharana) said to them that it was great that she was a girl: Agar voh la∂kaa hoti to shayad koee mard üss kay aagay nah hota (= Had she been a boy, maybe no man would have surpassed her).

A student of Ustad Karim Khansahab (Kirana Gharana), she was an impeccable singer and had the ease that very few singers seem to have. No drastic expressions, no large hand gestures, just pure sur and malhaar, remarkable sargams … and her breezy taans! That was her.

I used to phone Pandit Bhimsen Joshi on his birthdays and one day he said to me that he liked Roshan Ara a lot and wished there'd be some of her students he could hear. I couldn't think of any … and still know of no one who learnt much from her.

When Munawwar Ali Khan (son of Ba∂ay Ghulam Ali Khan Sahab) came to Pakistan he went to Lahore, with me, to ask Roshan Ara Begum to come and be the guest of honour at his father's memorial concert that year. Sadly, her husband was in the Police and she could not go to India without permission - so she refused.

Many years later, while my ship was in Karachi, I attended her last concert with Khusro Chacha, the most serious listener of classical music in my family. When she sang a new raag she had composed, she said it was two raags built into one. Later, Khusro Chacha went up to her and said he was sure he heard a small amount of another raag in the composition. She smiled and said: App kamaal kay aadmi haéñ. Maéñ nay to sirf ayk baar ayk aur raag ka tük∂aa istemaal kiyaa (= You are remarkable! I only used that small piece from another raag just once).

Thirty years ago, today, I was in Bombay on my ship. I got a call from Talat Chacha who was in tears. "Roshan Ara has passed away. Come to the house." I left the ship and reached his house in Bandra. He opened the door, still in tears, telling me "The world of music is ending now …"

Roshan Ara also sang some film songs under Anil Biswas and Feroze Nizami as well, specially for well-known films such as Roopmati Baazbahadur and more. When asked to sing Ghazals, not her usual fare at all, she did a fabulous job that can be seen here, for example, using her classical training.

Several of her recordings were made by Radio Pakistan, PTV, and Pakistan National Council of the Arts, but my constant messages in order to get a whole list of stuff they had recorded has received no responses. Syed Nasir Jehan, the famous Noha and Soz reciter, was once in charge of Radio Pak's Archives. He told me he was 'informed' that many of the Radio Pakistan versions had been lost or recorded over 'because of a lack of new tapes'. How terrible!

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