‘The Honouring of Pakistan’s Women Heroins’ by Teresa Klein


Deep gratitude to Fauzia Rafique and all the amazing women who presented and participated in the deeply moving ‘Women Who Named The Unnamed’ at Surrey City Hall, Center Stage on Saturday September 28. This honouring of Pakistani Women Heroines, the telling of their stories of resiliency and rebellion to the systemically condoned acts of atrocities against women, was delivered with reverence and tender grace.

As audience I felt I was tenderly being initiated. With expanding awareness I felt invited into an extended global family, with attentive youth, tending mothers and Wisdomed Elder-women, all of us bonding through story sharing and kindred heart energy.

My wish is for all, who may not be familiar with or not know the depth of the struggles that have been faced and are still being faced, to have opportunity to be touched by the breaking of the silences of ‘The Women Who Named the Unnamed’ An amazing project and production! Deep Bow!

From Teresa’s October 5 Facebook post
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Teresa Klein is a dreamer and a community leader. She is involved with a Community Garden/Medicine Wheel in Newton, an area of Surrey that has experienced trauma and had visible presence of homelessness and substance abuse issues. Beginning its Fourth growing season, despite its challenges, the Garden has become a centre for community engagement bridging generational, cultural and socio economic gaps to create a warm and welcoming space. theplot.ca. Teresa was an important part of September 28 event where she had provided all flora and fiona for the stage including a custom made wreath, a real tree in a planter, flowers and flowering plants. Thank you, Teresa.

View our objectives and goals.

Women Who Named the Unnamed is a project of
Surrey muse Arts Society (SMAS)

We gratefully acknowledge
that we are on the unceded Coast Salish territories of
the Semiahmoo, Katzie, Kwikwetlem, Kwantlen,
Qayqayt, Tsawwassen, Musqueam,
Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations.
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‘An Engaging Inspiring Peaceful Calm and a High Caliber Event’ by Harinder Dhahan

End of the 3rd Sequence – Sunera Thobani, Surjeet Kalsey, Deanna Reder, Harsha Walia, Darshan Mann – with Hina Imam, Sameena Siddisui, Sana Janjua, Hafsah Durrani – photo by Sophia Eugeni

Celebration of Pakistani & Local Women Heroes

‘I along with my brother, sister, daughter and a niece were privileged to attend the Celebration of Pakistani & Local Women Heroes. It was an eyeopener to watch and realize how much adversity and hardship women go through to fight for their own and others’ rights. They take and are still taking daring steps to bring justice and equality. The women heroes advocated in diverse ways – through protests, dance/artistic performances, writing/publishing and providing safe spaces for women to express themselves.

‘The celebration was well organized with creativity, thoughtfulness, love and respect for all. The women who took the initiative to recognize, honour and celebrate the work being done by the women heroes are already walking in the footsteps of those great women fighters in order to continue their work. The presenters conducted this program in such a way by which they got the audience fully engaged. For example, when the presenters would light the candles, take off their flowers and attach them to the wreath after each segment, it gave the audience time to let the stories resonate and be an integral part of the whole program. All the participants/speakers were welcomed to the stage with genuine and sincere respect.

‘Just as the heroes’ work needs to continue, these events should continue to reach a wider audience in order to bring awareness about what’s happening in the women’s world and how women are trying to reach out by putting their own lives in danger.

‘All the organizers and helpers may have put in countless hours, effort and collective energy to produce such an engaging, inspirational, peaceful, calm and a high clibre event. I would like to commend the excellent work you have done. All the best in your future endeavors.’

View our objectives and goals.

Women Who Named the Unnamed is a project of
Surrey muse Arts Society (SMAS)

We gratefully acknowledge
that we are on the unceded Coast Salish territories of
the Semiahmoo, Katzie, Kwikwetlem, Kwantlen,
Qayqayt, Tsawwassen, Musqueam,
Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations.

..

‘So Proud of You Mom’ by Shayla Dawn Szabo

Katheren Szabo, Woman of Courage, at Saturday’s celebration

So honoured to have attended the Women who Named the Unnamed tonight, and so proud to hear my mom speak and open the event- such powerful messages and inspiration throughout the entire event.

Shayla Dawn Szabo at ‘Women Who Named the Unnamed’

I can’t put the words together to tell you how amazing it was. I’m in complete agreement with our friend Teresa who spoke to us at the intermission of how this should be an event that should reach schools and be televised and reoccurring to reach, inspire and touch the hearts and minds of the many whom it would definitely impact.


Third and the last Sequence, Celebrate the (here) and Now, Guests and the Hosts

Thank-you Fauzia, and Mariam and all who brought together ‘The Women who Named the Unnamed’, thank you Mom, for you truly are The Woman of Courage and so much more in my heart and in many others’.

Thank you Teresa and Rella for the gift of your company and support for my mom.


Katheren’s voice reaches out as a Woman of Courage

Thank you Mom, you have given your all to lift and love. You make me so proud. You give me hope, community, courage, choice, empowerment, confidence, so much love and so much more, you are a leading example to me and you are the best mom I could ever have asked for. So deeply blessed to journey in life as your daughter… and to stand beside you as I grow and learn through experience. To follow your lead, and to take steps on my own with tools you have taught me and continue to teach. I love you.


Shayla on Centre Stage 

Based on Shayla’s Facebook post published on the evening of September 28

Read Katheren’s story
‘Katheren Szabo: The Heart of Newton’ by Zoë J. Dagneault

View our objectives and goals.

We gratefully acknowledge
that we are on the unceded Coast Salish territories of
the Semiahmoo, Katzie, Kwikwetlem, Kwantlen,
Qayqayt, Tsawwassen, Musqueam,
Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations.

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Pakistan’s Women Heroes : Mukhtar Mai

Women who Named the Unnamed
Honor/Cherish the Continuity

Mukhtar Mai
leader/survivor/organizer

Reclaiming the Narrative
By Aamna Rashid

Today, we must remember and remind ourselves to be like her ~ fearless.’

There is power in speaking up against injustice, there is courage that comes through in standing up against an oppressive system. There is an indomitable resilience and the will to fight that carries forward such a struggle. It is all this and more that we see within the figure of Mukhtar Mai. In the backdrop of a country where honour is rooted in the woman’s body, where women are bartered as objects to settle disputes, where allegations of rape are swept away to protect the perpetrator and where vendetta rapes and honour killings are rampant, her story becomes an exceptionally powerful force.

She was born in the village of Meerwala, Muzaffargarh district, in the South Western region of the Punjab. Her family is from the Gujjar tribe, a ‘lower’ caste in the tribal system of her village, a place, which like most rural areas in Pakistan, follows a strictly demarcated hierarchal caste system. The politics of this system determines the everyday reality and customs of people upholding structural biases as it attempts to hold its power in place, the same politics that uses gendered violence against those who threaten it. It was under this that her story came to light when news of her attack ordered by this system, and her decision to fight it, were brought to public attention.

Mukhtar Mai was gang raped on 22 June, 2002, on the orders of the Panchayat or Jirga- the local village council. The decision was made to allow the members of the Mastoi tribe to ‘avenge’ the damage to their ‘honour’ caused by a supposed offence enacted by Mukhtar’s brother – an offence that proved to be false. They claimed he had an affair with a woman from their tribe who was of a higher caste, something which was not allowed by the stringent caste system as it would threaten its foundations, and so they took the case to the local village council. Keeping in mind both the position of the village tribunal as being outside the country’s judicial laws, and the prevalent customs where the female body was seen as a site to be conquered and violated to enact revenge, the verdict given to Mukhtar Mai protected both as she was ordered to go to the Mastois for punishment.

According to the dictates of the ‘tradition’, she had only two options – to live life in shame and never speak of it, or to commit suicide – but she refused to be silenced, instead she held back and forged a third one. She and her family reported the case to the police and went to pick up their son from jail only to find that he had committed no crime. The story reached national news when a sermon of the Imam of the local mosque critiquing the public gang rape was picked up by a journalist. Encouraged by the support she was receiving on a national level, she petitioned to have a case filed against her perpetrators, levying an attack against the same tradition that had resulted in the violence against her.

The cult of shame and silences that is forced upon a woman in Pakistan if they are raped or assaulted, was thrust off by Mukhtar Mai’s actions as she stood facing the village elders on one level and the entire hegemonic patriarchal force on another, fighting simultaneously on the social, legal and political battlegrounds. Each level tried to silence her. The court attempted to brush away her case by acquitting her attackers in 2005 and granting them complete exoneration in 2011. In addition to the troubles at court, she and her family received countless threats for following through with the case and she was even put on the Exit Control list by General Pervez Musharraf’s dictatorial regime to prevent her story from spreading to international level ‘tarnishing’ Pakistan’s image. But despite these attempts, she continued to press forward with unwavering determination, continuing her fight and remaining outspoken about the injustices in a system built to hinder retribution for women.

She became the first woman in Pakistan to put a tribunal justice system on trial and to advocate to have her rapists sentenced to death. This brought the news to the international media and garnered her support across the board, ensuring the government took notice of the case. The intricacies of power, caste and sexual politics all came to a head with her story, where through prosecuting her rapists, she levied a blow to all three when finally in 2019, 17 years after the event, the case was finally ruled in her favour.

Following the aftermath of the rape and the legal proceedings, she became an advocate for women’s rights and sought to improve conditions within the village. She used the money she had received through the settlement of the case to construct two schools for girls within her village setting up the Mukhtar Mai Girls Model School and established a crisis centre in her own home for women subjected to violence to provide them with shelter and legal counselling. She also set up the Mukhtar Mai Women’s Welfare Organisation to help support and educate women and girls. She was invited to numerous talks, both at a national and international level and became an important figure in raising awareness of the rights of women and in attempting to change the tribunal system borne through caste and gendered hierarchies.

She was accredited with the title of Woman of the Year by Glamour magazine in 2005, and she received Fatima Jinnah gold medal for bravery and courage in the same year. In 2006, her autobiography In The Name of Hon-our – A Memoir was released and reached number 3 in the best seller list in France. Her story was featured internationally in both the news, the media and the arts. It became the subject of a book Half the Sky by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, an opera Thumbprint, and a documentary Shame by Muhammad Naqvi.

Her continued presence and involvement in public and political events acts as a rebuttal against the stigma of rape and against the traditional mandate of hiding women away in the confines of the private sphere. It lays down a new precedent that breaks away from the many pronged patriarchal beast, putting a crack in its edifice, paving the path for more and more women to speak out and be heard.

We see in Mukhtar Mai’s story signs of struggle and resilience, of perseverance and retribution, of a reclaiming of narrative. We see through her story a subversion and attack against the oppressive norms of the society. But more than anything, we see through her story an alternate path to that of shame and silence laid out for women – we see the path of resistance.

And that is why we must speak of her, to highlight her power in breaking the silence, in breaking the bonds that shackle despite continued attempts to silence her. We seek to recognise and appreciate her strides for women and to hope through it all for a future where attacks against women would not go unpunished, a future where rather than elicit cries of shame, there would be cries of outrage against the injustice, a future where women will no longer be considered objects of men and a future where the judicial system isn’t borne of selective justice that benefits only the perpetrators.

Today, we must remember and remind ourselves to be like her ~ fearless.

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Aamna Rashid recently finished her BA Honours in Literature from the Lahore University of Management Sciences with a focus on feminist politics, questions of identity and resistance. She pursues photography and art in her free time and has a keen interest in art history and film.
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Women Who Named the Unnamed
Pakistan’s & Local Women Heroes

Saturday, September 28, 2019
6 – 9 PM
Centre Stage
Surrey City Hall
13450 – 104 Avenue
Surrey, BC, Canada V3T 1V8
Phone: 604-591-4011

Buy your ticket online at this link:
tickets.surrey.ca
Tickets $25
Box Office : 604-501-5566

More information
Women-who-named-the-unnamed
In-gratitude-we-celebrate-our-women-heroes
View our objectives and goals.

We gratefully acknowledge
that we are on the unceded Coast Salish territories of
the Semiahmoo, Katzie, Kwikwetlem, Kwantlen,
Qayqayt, Tsawwassen, Musqueam,
Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations.

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Pakistan’s Women Heroes : Sabeen Mahmud

Women who Named the Unnamed
Tribute to the Brilliance

Sabeen Mahmud (1975-2015)
arts activist/poet/organizer

By Fauzia Rafique

Sabeen Mahmud was a computer programmer and graphic designer who had a clear vision of her world and her own role in it. She taught herself these skills not just to make a living but to create public spaces for free expression in a city she saw as chaotic and oppressed by a system based in a military industrial complex. In her own words, she wanted to create ‘a safe haven for artists, musicians, writers, poets, activists, and thinkers— essentially anyone who wanted to escape the relentless tyranny of the city for a little while. If I built it, would anyone come?’

She sure built it, and her vision brought enough support to establish an institution called The Second Floor or 2tf, combining art and literary presentations with opportunities for vibrant social interaction by inculcating secularism, freedom of speech, non-discrimination and equality. Soon, the surrounding religious and governmental structures began to see this as an unwanted activity. Sabeen began to receive death threats from conservative religion-based outfits in 2013, and later, from the country’s security agencies. She continued to bring out some of the burning issues to public attention including the devastating reality of the people of the province of Baluchistan where Baluch activists, political workers and men in general were, and are, made to disappear by para-military agencies.

In 2014, Baluch families and activists staged a 3000 mile three-month long march from Quetta to Islamabad to protest the over 3000 documented cases of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings that had occurred since 2005, and to demand the return of their loved ones. Sabeen had organized talks and discussions on this issue since 2011, in 2015, she presented an event called ‘Unsilencing Baluchistan – take two’. After the event, Sabeen was driving home with her mother when unidentified armed men from the para-military agencies fired at the car injuring her mother, and killing Sabeen.

She was not a dangerous criminal to have been killed like that, she was a visionary, informed, articulate, her execution-style killing was a warning to other democracy-loving people to stay silent. Indeed, after this, many poets, writers, bloggers and teachers were killed, tortured or made to disappear in Pakistan’s cities. Yet what Sabeen stood for, did not disappear; her vision, her t2f, her Peace Niche, her kindnesses, her humour- all remain and flourish in Karachi and Beyond.

Wishing a Happy Sabeen Day to us all, today and every day.

Fauzia Rafique is a novelist, poet, editor and blogger. She has published two novels, ‘The Adventures of SahebaN: Biography of a Relentless Warrior‘ and ‘Skeena’. A collection of her poems ‘Holier than Life’ was published as an ebook in 2013. She is a co-founder and the coordinator of Surrey Muse Arts society (SMAS).
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Women Who Named the Unnamed
Pakistan’s & Local Women Heroes

Saturday, September 28, 2019
6 – 9 PM
Centre Stage
Surrey City Hall
13450 – 104 Avenue
Surrey, BC, Canada V3T 1V8
Phone: 604-591-4011

Buy your ticket online at this link:
tickets.surrey.ca
Tickets $25
Box Office : 604-501-5566

More information
Women-who-named-the-unnamed
In-gratitude-we-celebrate-our-women-heroes
View our objectives and goals.

We gratefully acknowledge
that we are on the unceded Coast Salish territories of
the Semiahmoo, Katzie, Kwikwetlem, Kwantlen,
Qayqayt, Tsawwassen, Musqueam,
Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations.

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Meet the Women hosting Women Heroes on September 28-2019

Meet this group of bright and talented women who have come together to bring us the stage show ‘Women Who named the Unnamed: Pakistan’s & Local Women Heroes’: Sana Janjua, Hafsah Umar Durrani, Sameena Siddiqui, Hina Imam and Mariam Zohra D. View the Program here.

Sana is a poet, playwright and performer who works as a psych nurse and pursues her higher education goals, Hafsah is a homemaker, a Scouts Leader who is interested in performance and martial arts. Sameena is a Muslim from India pursuing her PhD in India’s art history, and she’s a compulsive reader, researcher and writer. Hina is a journalist born in Pakistan, raised in Saudi Arabia and living and studying in Canada as a student of journalism at UBC. Mariam is a vocalist and a multi-disciplinary artist combining music, video, drama, painting and poetry. View more about our amazing hosts: creative-content/hosts

Women Who Named the Unnamed
Pakistan’s & Local Women Heroes

Saturday, September 28, 2019
6 – 9 PM
Centre Stage
Surrey City Hall
13450 – 104 Avenue
Surrey, BC, Canada V3T 1V8
Phone: 604-591-4011

Buy your ticket online at this link:
tickets.surrey.ca
Tickets $25
Box Office : 604-501-5566

More information
Women-who-named-the-unnamed
In-gratitude-we-celebrate-our-women-heroes
View our objectives and goals.

We gratefully acknowledge
that we are on the unceded Coast Salish territories of
the Semiahmoo, Katzie, Kwikwetlem, Kwantlen,
Qayqayt, Tsawwassen, Musqueam,
Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations.

..

‘Women Who Named the Unnamed : Pakistani & Local Women Heroes’ – Saturday 28 Sept 2019 – Centre Stage – Surrey City Hall


You are warmly invited to participate in a delightful experience of coming to know in one evening 15 wonderful women of our time. Presented by five Hosts, this three-hour stage show uses short videos and props to communicate the ‘feel’ of women’s work and contributions to our cultures and societies. From Pakistan, Sabeen Mahmud (1975-2015), Fahmida Riaz (1946-2018), Asma Jahangir (1952-2018), Madeeha Gauhar (1956-2018), Sarah Suhail, Sheema Kermani, Kishwar Naheed, Hina Jilani, Huma Safdar, Mukhtar Mai, and, we will also be honored by the presence of the following distinguished guests:

Sunera Thobani
Scholar/activist/author, Vancouver CA
Surjeet Kalsey
Poet/author/translator, Burnaby CA
Harsha Walia
Author/activist/organizer, Vancouver CA
Darshan Mann
Theatre actor/activist/organizer, Surrey CA
Deanna Reder
Scholar/author/historian, Vancouver CA

Women Who Named the Unnamed
Pakistani & Local Women Heroes

Saturday, September 28, 2019
6 – 9 PM
Centre Stage
Surrey City Hall
13450 – 104 Avenue
Surrey, BC, Canada V3T 1V8
Phone: 604-591-4011

Tickets $25
Box Office : 604-501-5566

Project funded by
City of Surrey, Cultural Grants, Hari Sharma Foundation, Department of Asian Studies, University of British Columbia (UBC), South Asian Studies Institute, University of the Fraser Valley (UFV), Centre for India and South Asia Research, University of British Columbia (UBC), Fraser Valley Peace Council (FVPC), Department of Language and Cultures, Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU)

Presented by
Surrey Muse Arts Society (SMAS), South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy (SANSAD), Committee of Progressive Pakistani Canadians (CPPC)

More information
pakistanswomenheroes.wordpress.com
pakistanswomenheroes@gmail.com

LIKE our Facebook page
facebook.com/pakistanswomenheroes
Follow on Twitter
@heroes_pakistan

We gratefully acknowledge
that we are on the unceded Coast Salish territories of
the Semiahmoo, Katzie, Kwikwetlem, Kwantlen,
Qayqayt and Tsawwassen First Nations.

..