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Tuesday, December 15, 2009, Zil'Haj 27, 1430 A.H
     
 
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Identity issues

This week You! talks to Shamsa Ali - an eminent lawyer who believes that there is a greater need to sensitise society to the needs of women...

 

By T. F. Naqvi

Shamsa Ali has to her credit of having practiced law for over 27 years. She is one headstrong woman amongst that rare breed of women lawyers who has been enrolled as an advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan in addition to being the General Secretary of the Women Wing of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.

Having been appointed as an expert on the Committee to draft the proposed amendments in the Family Laws of Pakistan - the committee was formulated by the Federal Ministry for Women's Development, in March, 2002 in Islamabad - she provides legal aid to women from all strata of society. You! got the chance to meet her and discuss the situation regarding the status of women today and what needs to be focused upon, as she is an acknowledged expert on gender studies, women in Islam and the legal and constitutional status of women in Pakistan.

Shamsa believes that there is a greater need to sensitise society to the needs of women. "This may sound like a generic statement, but it is essential that all agencies and departments of State must be sensitised to resolve the problems faced by women, to safeguard their interests and to guarantee women's role in decision making. Besides being a constitutional requirement, giving this issue top priority is the only way sustainable development is possible.

"We see women being victimised, but rarely do we see any exemplary punishment given to the perpetrators. The present government has two ministers who have violated the law and yet they sit in positions of power and the government has condoned their illegal stance.

"The punishment is not according to the crime as in most cases those with influence protect the culprits. Even more often family members are involved in the crimes themselves and the women of the family are asked to bear the brunt of the system. There is a desperate need for the law enforcement agencies to be pressurised to acknowledge a crime for what it is and to take action against those who break the law."

According to Shamsa, the only light at the end of this tunnel is the media picking up on these stories and that families and women in particular, are looking up to various organisations to register their complaints.

"Media has certainly had an impact on our society, but women's organisations too have been working in promoting awareness and though this is a slow and often thankless job, it will hopefully lead to success gradually."

Shamsa also believes that there are several areas that need to be concentrated on to bring about a change that will affect women in a positive way.

"I was at a meeting recently and lodged my protest about a simple thing like the expiry date of the National Identity Card, which every Pakistani is expected to possess. I strongly believe it should not have an expiry date, especially in a poor, backward country such as ours. It is tough for men but even tougher for women who are the last option when it comes to such matters. For a common man it takes an effort to make a trip out to get registered the first time round; to do so again is an additional cost, more so as there is a fee attached to renew a card, for women, it is not an option, no one will provide the expense this incurs! For most who live below or on the verge of the poverty line, this nominal amount is exceedingly expensive as it entails the cost of a day's trip and a day's wages. The state's excuses are lame and just another source of monetary gain."

The government should help every Pakistani - particularly women - to own the card that identifies them as citizens and empowers them. Looking at this issue a bit further, the importance of the Identity Card became clearer with the most simple of explanations.

"People, women inclusive, are empowered when they possess an ID card. The State acknowledges and owns them as citizens. A person without an ID card has in fact no-existence. We have seen in many areas where women are not permitted by cultural norms in possessing an NIC and they have little status in that society's fabric. They have no voice, and they are denied independence. It is very important to possess such a card as it allows women to have a bank account, to start a business, to get a job, to be able to hire a house; lastly it allows women to have a right to vote. In these times, it is a prerequisite and instead of creating hurdles, the government should help every Pakistani possess the card that identifies them as citizens.

With the modern communication system and data collection, this is not a difficult task it once was. Local Government, Union Councils must keep data of marriage, birth and death and this information can be shared amongst all relevant departments across the country in a matter of hours at the most - if the government works with coordination and diligence."

Having written several papers that have been read nationally and at the international level, a prolific writer, Shamsa Appa has authored a book on 'The Quranic Society, A treatise on Women's Rights' which is available in all public libraries.

"People are shy of talking about Islam today. There are strong biases that have developed. During the '80s there was a need to research what Islam said about women's rights as there were statements by those who were trying to manipulate religion for their own sake. We, the women of Pakistan, had to counter that and it became imperative to understand and know what the laws and rights given to women in Islam were.

I have written on women as Head of State in Islam, but then I have written on several issues concerning women. My research was on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women in Pakistan. Role of Bar in Promotion of Legal Aid, Appraisal of Family Laws vis-a-vis Implementation of Women's Constitutional Rights are some of the subjects I have penned. But what I feel is necessary is to keep reasserting this information to girls. My paper on 'Crimes Against Women was presented at the Girl Guides Conference' and such material must constantly be circulated so that young women may get to know how to identify an act of violence, to identify their rights and to take assertive measures to protect themselves."

Regarding Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf, led by Chairman Imran Khan, Shamsa Appa opines that the party has a clear vision and is the most progressive political party with a strong national identity. "Our Chairman is a very proud Pakistani, he is innately honest, is well balanced and has had great exposure both nationally and internationally so determines what Pakistan needs with clarity. He is concerned about the future of the country. He is outspoken, those who have heard him will verify that he will attack anyone who is crippling the country or those demeaning the nation or risking its sovereignty.

"Our belief is that the people have a right to the best that the state can provide. Pakistanis anywhere in the world when given the opportunity have risen to better themselves, they are resourceful, bright and hardworking and all they require is equal opportunity. In the past six decades we have crushed our people and destroyed the very essence of a civilised society by neglecting to protect the rights of our citizens. We need a new political order as the stench that reeks from the old one is now unbearable.

"Our party is comparatively new, it is dynamic and we have the support of the women and the youth of this country - a generation who are looking to own this country with ambitions to make it comparable to any progressive nation. We need to cleanse the system and we have little support from the status quo who have all shown their cards and exposed themselves completely. They are more interested in their own agendas and to play a game that challenges the very existence of our country as a free and independent State. We recognise those who try to defame us or undermine our agenda as people without ideals or dreams... It took a while for Luther's famous lines to emerge from a dream into reality, and they have. The only way we can achieve our goals is to be focused but first we must have a dream."


 

beauty

For a beautiful winter!

This time around You! talks to some of our renowned make up artists on how you can have a glowing and beautiful skin in winters...

 

By Margaret Joseph

Winter is here and it is not just about taking out your warm clothes, having hot chocolate or coffee snuggled in your comfy quilt, covered from head to toe. It is more than that and as it gets colder, the weather becomes drier, your skin will find it difficult to protect itself. This may happen rapidly. You may notice that your hands and face are becoming chapped and dry. Your lips are starting to feel all crusty. It is time to battle the cold winds that hampers your body and skin. A little care will keep the wintry troubles at bay.

Extremely irritated skin can crop up quite fast. Make sure that you keep some extra heavy duty moisturising cream in your bag at all times so that you are able to handle those problematic areas wherever necessary.

Your skin texture depends not only on external treatments, but also on your intake. A proper nutritious intake helps in rejuvenating the skin from within. Water plays an important role in keeping your skin alive. A good amount of water will help in retaining the moisture of your skin as well keeping skin disorders at bay.

You! talks to some of our renowned make up artists on how you can have a glowing and beautiful skin all this season...

 

Mona J of Mona J Salon shares that you have to pamper your skin throughout the winter season. Moisturisers and cold creams are a must for the cold and dry weather. In winters the more heavy your moisturiser is the better. You have to apply it on your face especially before going to bed. The key is to keep your skin hydrated and moist all round the season. "The best moisturisers and masks that I will recommend is Dermalogica.

Another thing that I would prefer is to go for regular facials as it will keep your skin moist. This will also prevent those fines lines and wrinkles which tend to appear on your skin if it is too dry."

Rose water works as a tonic for your skin. Spraying rose water on your face after every three to four hours will keep your skin fresh and glowing. For hands and feet she recommends regular manicures and pedicures.

Talking about make up trends this winter Mona J says, "Red lipstick is very much in vogue and flick out eyeliner goes very well with red lips. From starting till the end keep one thickness of your eyeliner and avoid making a dome in the middle of your eye."

 

Aliya Tipu of Allenora Salon, Karachi, says if you want your skin to look beautiful, moisturising is essential not only in winters but all round the year. But one has to be very careful in choosing the products. Because many a time what happens is that you buy some product that doesn't suit your skin type and that can harm your skin or make it drier.

If you have dry skin your face will become more dry or flaky in winters. "For flaky skin I would suggest that you use mild scrubs which will help soften your skin. And of course after that don't forget to apply a good moisturiser." Go for creamy products, you can use a creamy soap that renders extra suppleness to your skin. Use butter milk creams especially after taking a shower.

Regular facials from a professional are a must because your skin needs cleansing and your beautician would know what your skin type is and will use products according to your skin type. "A very simple tip for all skin types is to add a few drops of Vitamin E oil with almond oil and mix well, use it before going to bed. It will keep your face supple and soft."

About make up trends she suggests that, working women should go for glossy and soft make up during day time. Go for kohl, eyeliner and mascara for the eyes but keep your lips soft and use light shades like pink, peach and earthy tones.

 

Since winter in Karachi is very dry and everybody is going through a hard time taking care of their skin and hair, Huma of Huma Salon strongly recommends regular use of Vaseline or petroleum jelly on one's face, hand and feet before going to bed. "In the morning you will feel the difference."

For hands and feet she shares a home remedy which is very simple to make and use. "Take equal amounts of rose water and glycerine and add a few drops of lemon juice, mix well and keep it in a bottle. Apply it on your hands and feet before going to bed."

Talking about hair care Huma stresses that deep conditioning is essential. "You cannot ignore your hair in winters. It is a misconception that applying oil will solve all your problems. If you apply oil you will shampoo it all out and your hair will be 'dry' again. Conditioner is the only thing that can prevent dryness. Every time you shampoo don't forget to condition it because dry weather tends to make your hair dry and brittle. Your hair needs as much moisture as your skin. But you have to choose a shampoo and conditioner that suits your hair."

For frizzy and curly hair she suggests to use leave-in conditioners. "They are the best for taming your hair," she concludes.



health

Age gracefully

There are multitudes of therapies and treatments to make you look young and beautiful but you have to make sure that you educate yourself before giving in to any procedure...

 

By Dr. Hassan Feroze

Thomas Nash said that "Beauty is but a flower, which wrinkles will devour." Earlier in the days old age and wrinkles were believed to be signs of wisdom and maturity, sadly today the world moves in the opposite direction. However, if there are millions out there busy buying all that is being sold with the "make you look young and fabulous" tag, one should also be well aware of the complexities of the skin they wear. Search on the internet and you will find thousands of sites offering multitudes of therapies and treatments. From creams to machines, from peels to surgical face lifts, from injections to fat transplant, everyone is out to sell one's product. A thin grey line between ethical and commercial is the only divide between truth and untruth. You! takes a look...

 

Face reading:

It all starts with face reading. We all age differently. Our skins are different. Our descent is different. Even identical twins age differently when placed in different environments. The science of aging, be it as specific as it is, acts on all of us in a different way giving us the features we associate with aging. The other factor which makes us different is our "Asian" skin. The type of skin which 'knows' how to make pigment. Our skin has a high probability of reacting with hyperpigmentation when insulted. A procedure that has shown immaculate results in the white skin but may not be appropriate for darker skin types at all. Darker skin types are tricky to treat, and any doctor must perform invasive surgical skin procedures when well trained aesthetic medical support is nearby.

 

Procedures:

Once extensive facial analysis, after proper medical history and pertinent examination, is performed, a long talk with the patient is extremely crucial. Doctors hardly have time to talk to anyone. A lot of time must be spent on cultivation of realistic expectations, possibility of very real side effects, and the monetary aspect of all that must be done. Patients desires are paramount in Aesthetic medicine. Beauty a la carte is what we're here to provide. The type of procedures performed would greatly depend on the time bracket in which a patient 'must' look better. Some procedures like botox, fillers, superficial peels and micro dermabrasion may give results anywhere from immediate to a week or two. Deeper procedures will require more downtime, and will give better results as well. Treatments with prolonged downtimes must be conducted by a properly trained physician. These are the same procedure prone to give hyperpigmentation in Asian skin.

 

Realistic expectations:

Anti aging takes time, money and expertise and skills perfected to rejuvenate the skin to its former health. Multiple sessions are the norm. Timing of sessions is paramount. Do not jump to a quick fix. Manufacturers of machines and products thrive on the peoples' thirst for rapid rejuvenation. Consult your doctor and clarify the truth versus fiction.

You alone must take charge of your body, your destiny. Eternal youth can never be promised. Offer yourself a chance to 'age gracefully'. Change the trend.


rendezvous

Act it up

You! takes a look at a three day event of theatrical heaven that included dance, drama and music...

 

By Fatima Shaheen

The power and value of theatre is incomparable to any other form of art. This is because it requires passion, talent, intelligence and it captures the attention of hundreds seated in the auditorium. Recently, a three day extravaganza was held at the Arts Council Karachi. It wasn't just an event based on spectacular performances it also supported the importance of women's rights in Pakistan.

The theatrical presentations were by the famed Sheema Kermani's cultural troupe Tehrik-e-Niswan and they gave heart felt performances on all the three days.

Ismat ke do kahaniyan

On the first day, (Ismat ki do kahaniyan), two plays based on the short stories written by the feminist Urdu writer Ismat Chugtai were presented. With 'Kafir' and 'Amar Bel', Sheema has touched the society's sensitive issues with the help of Ismat's acerbic writing.

The first play 'Kafir', lasted for 20 minutes, was directed by Anwer Jafri and featured only two characters; Pushkar (Salim Meraj) and Munni (Asma Mundrawala). The theme of a Muslim girl marrying a Hindu boy would cause problems and raise eyebrows, but in 'Kafir' Ismat deals with it in her typically delightful and endearing fashion. Anwar Jafri was successful in maintaining the original flavour with his clever direction. Besides the captivating and crispy dialogues, credit must be given to the powerful acting of Salim Meraj - whose name is synonymous with theatre.

The second 40-minutes play, 'Amar Bel' included Sheema Kermani, Saife Hassan, Mahvash Faruqi and Asma Mundrawala,. This representation draws upon narrative techniques to emphasise one of the most compelling aspects of Ismat's writing; her language. In a spontaneous and conversational style, Ismat reveals the middle class woman through the language she speaks.

Rang badal lo bhai

On the second day the audience was entertained with 'Rang badal lo bhai', the hilarious satirical play that reflected the hypocrisy and dearth of morality in our society. The performances were accompanied by live musicians who played while the actors sang along and delivered their dialogues. It was written and directed by Anwar Jaffri and was inspired from the story 'Chameleon' by Anton Chekhov. The play was presented in a traditional dramatic and nautanki style and it gave an overview of how we Pakistanis change colours like chameleons whenever a situation requires it. It covered the different phases of Pakistan, opening with 1947 and then going through the various periods of General Ayub Khan, Yahya Khan and Musharraf. The act was overall humorous but had its moments of intensity and seriousness that was bound to leave a mark on the audience. The strength of the play laid in the fact that it covered all aspects of human traumas, emotions and difficulties. It included everything from bribery, rape and corruption to the special treatment given to the higher ups and government officials. The actors of the play included the entire troupe of Tehrik-e-Niswan.

Raqs karo

Last but not least was the third day of the event and indeed the talented troupe had saved the best for last. 'Raqs karo' was a dance/drama based on the poetry of Fahmida Riaz that was brilliantly choreographed by Sheema Kermani. It was an inspiring multi-media musical extravaganza, incorporating dance, music and poetry. This unique ballet depicted the changing position of women in this society. The musical play made evident how females in our Pakistani society suffer and how men chain them up after giving them a charade of promises of a life filled with love and happiness.

The so called love possessed by most of the men exist just so they can suppress the female on the basis of it. The recital was not only entertaining but was an inspirational eye-opener. The cherry on top of it all was Sheema's dance. There are no words to describe how gracefully and elegantly she performed. The audience was astounded by her classical dance performance and everyone gave her a well deserved standing ovation.

The trio of plays was surely a theatrical treat and something to ponder upon. The one thing that differentiated Tehrik-e-Niswan from the rest is that their performances are solely dependant on their acting and they avoid the usage of props. Their hand movements are enough to describe to the audience as to what is going on and the absence of props is not even noticeable. The ones who missed out on these plays surely have something to regret about, so better luck next time folks.

Photos by Naqeeb-ur-Rehman and Zahid Rehman


off the beaten track

Robber's Hospital

By Yasir Pirzada

On November 29, 2009 at 3 a.m. in the morning, a three year old baby girl named Imanae, spilt hot water on her wrist. Her parents immediately took her to a '5 Star' kind of a hospital, well known for its hefty charges, located in Johar Town, Lahore. Although it was a very small burn, the parents chose to go to the hospital as their baby was in terrible pain. At the hospital, they were met by the emergency ward staff, which applied an ointment on her hand and gave her an injection to soothe the pain. However, Imanae continued to cry after which the nurse called the doctor on duty. The doctor, who had just been woken up from sound sleep, instructed the nurse to give the baby another injection. Imanae, however, continued to cry. Fifteen minutes later, the sleepy doctor again instructed the nurse to give Imanae a 3rd injection. All in all, 5mg of this anaesthetic/pain killer was given to the three year old baby girl. This was the moment when that little baby tried calling out her dad and said that everything was getting blurred and she couldn't see clearly. Little did her parents know that these were the last words their daughter would ever say. The girl then went silent and started losing consciousness and in few minutes she was dead.

The matter was reported in local media and on 02 December, the Punjab Chief Minister constituted a committee to probe into the incident. As per media reports, the three member Committee concluded, inter alia, that it was due to the criminal negligence of the doctors which took the life of three year old baby, hence, a case should be registered against the responsible doctors while the hospital should be shut down. The Committee also recommended to the Government to register a case against the MD of the hospital. As a result of all the uproar, pharmacy of the hospital has also been sealed because expired medicines were being sold there. However, there are still some questions which need to be answered; but before putting up those questions, let's have a glance on the paraphernalia of the Health Department of the largest province of the country:

The Punjab Health Department is headed by a Secretary under whom there is a Special Secretary and four Additional Secretaries and a Director General Health Services. Under each Additional Secretary, there are 2-3 Deputy Secretaries and 4-10 Section Officers while Personal Staff Officers, Planning Officers, Law Officer, Superintendents and Chief Drug Inspector are in addition to this. DG Health Services has its own "estate". S/he is supported by the Directors: Communicable Disease Control; Expanded Program of Immunization; Basic Health Services/Headquarters; Reproductive Health / Maternity and Child Health and Planning & Evaluation; and several Additional and Assistant Directors Health Services at the provincial Directorate and by Directors Health Services at Divisional headquarters plus District Health Officer, Deputy District Health Officer, Medical Superintendent and large number of other health officers. In short, the Health Department enjoys all kind of powers which are supplemented by a plethora of Rules and Acts ranging from The Punjab Medical and Health Institution Act, 1998 to Vaccination Ordinance 1958. The website of the Punjab Government, which according its own counter, has been visited by more than 3.2 million visitors till 06 December'09, was last updated (Health Department section) almost a year ago on 06 Jan'09 and ironically it is silent about the budget of the Health Department.

The Mission Statement of the Department is also quite interesting as it says "To improve the quality and coverage of Health Services with special focus on Primary Health Care to achieve Millennium Development Goals." And the Vision Statement is even more interesting: "Health population with a sound health care system practicing health life style, in partnership with private sector including civil society, which is effective, efficient and responsive to the health needs of low socio-economic groups especially women in the reproductive age." Despite my utmost effort, I have not been able to make head and tail of this "Vision Statement."

Now the questions which still need answer:

What is the use of army of health officials if it cannot even monitor/regulate/check the most expensive hospital, which should better be called "Robber's Hospital", situated in the heart of the provincial metropolis?

If this is the state of affairs and level of efficiency of the officers of one of the most important departments of the Government, right under the nose of a hard task master like Shahbaz Sharif, what would be the situation in the far flung areas like tehsil Rojhan of district Rajanpur? How a Medical Officer of a government hospital would treat the child of a poor farmer there? Not much intelligence is required to answer this question.

Why we are always moved after loss of precious lives? What stops the government department to act well before time?

Why the concerned health officer/drug inspector of the area who was responsible for checking the pharmacy/hospital has not been taken to task? Had he done his job properly and honestly, a precious life could have been saved.

Health Department officers would definitely come up with all kinds of plausible explanations to these questions and one can't beat them on this account as they are well trained to defend themselves against all odds. They would give fancy presentations to the Chief Minister which would persuade him that due to scarcity of resources, it has become almost impossible to govern a province like Punjab; hence, they are doing wonders under the circumstances. So guys, as far as the government departments are concerned, everything is hunky dory for them till the time an innocent child lost his/her life and an inquiry is ordered. Hence, the moral of the story is, "if we want the government departments to take action on any issue, we should sacrifice some lives before that, preferably of the children."

yasirpirzada1@gmail.com


interiors

Small things count

Objects d'art certainly add up to the beauty of a room. This week You! shares some interesting ideas with its readers...

By Fatima Niazi

The place we live in is an extension of our personality and taste. One's home may be as big as a castle or as small as an attic room but it's one's personal touch and unique style that makes this space comfortable and warm. It takes a lot of planning to convert a house into a dream home and that doesn't necessarily mean that home decoration should be an expensive affair.

Of course this includes furniture, but the decoration we are talking about here occupies less space and is definitely essential to create a specific aura. One might have come across rooms of children decorated with Barbies and action figures. The decoration pieces used imply the preference and taste of the child. Well lucky for everyone the world is still flowing with ideas and with time more articulate decoration pieces are being designed. One thing or the other is bound to be the perfect decor element to make one's room appear striking so read on and find out what best suits you and your home...

 

Crystal clear

Crystal decoration pieces are eye catching and elegant. If you are into fancy decoration you could opt for a range of crystal ornaments. At least a place in the corner of the room should be dedicated to the crystal collection. Crystals are exclusive. The ranges of ornaments include crystal vases, lamps and bowls. However, the best out of all is the crystal animal kingdom. Yes it's the most innovative, simple yet classy. One will easily be able to find crystal elephants, lions, swans, cats and any other kind of animal. Candle holders made out of crystal can also be placed in the room; one to two candle holders are enough to create the desired impact.

 

Handicrafts

Clay decorations can give a very ethnic and cultural feel to your room. Since these pieces are handmade and Pakistan masters the art of designing them, one is sure to find something that suits your taste. Clay decorations include pottery as well as clay dolls. Pottery is both decorative and practical. You can choose from a wide variety of items like bowls, vases, dishes and lamps, which are easily available in the market. One can decorate the side table with the clay doll collection ranging from elegant dolls to funky multi-coloured dolls.

 

Porcelain

Porcelain, also known as fine china is the purest and the most delicate type of pottery. It has a delicate texture, pleasing colours and is used to make fine sculptures. Most of these decorations have a level of clear glaze with blue flowers and patterns on it. These can be used to give a room an antique look which is why porcelain collections are usually placed in the dining rooms or a place where guests are to be seated.

Chinese porcelain is by far the most popular since the design elements used by them are unique. This includes bowls, vases as well as dolls.

 

Marble

Decoration pieces made of marble are long lasting and fancy. Marble handicrafts and artifacts are in high demand throughout the world so opting for them to decorate a house is a good choice. The artifacts include animal and bird figures available in unmatched designs to give a room that classy effect. Marble pots and vases are also available in a number of exquisite designs and colour combinations.

 

Light it up

Candles are basically used to assist people in the dark but here we are talking about the beautiful coloured decorative candles. They can be found in various sizes, shapes and colours. Many forms of candles such as animals, fruits, people etc. are also easily found. Decorative candles are unique versatile decor elements. Unlit decorative candles add a subtle artistic flair to the surroundings, but when lit they become objects d'art that glow warmly while producing flickering shadows and exotic aromas at times. However, be careful not to light your favourite decoration candle too much or it is bound to melt. Feel free to place different candles in diverse positions.




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