Stories By 'Rafia Zakaria'
From the outside, Sweden looks like the most equal country in the world. What men do, women do as well. The streets of Sweden’s cities are full of both of them; they ride their bikes to work, they push children in strollers, they do groceries, they work in banks and they work in construction.
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It’s the stuff of nightmares: the sudden arrival of a number of men into the privacy of one’s home, a search, and then a family member taken away. This is what reportedly happened last month to Ph.D student Laeeq Aslam. According to details of the reported event, about half a dozen men barged into his Rawalpindi home late at night.
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It may be hot—swelteringly and terrifyingly hot—in most of the country, but the brisk business of killing women (and some men) in the name of honour continues apace. Some weeks ago, an angry man, mad at his sisters over some domestic dispute, began beating them with a stick. When his 100-year-old grandmother tried to intervene, he began to beat her too. Age is not a factor when it comes to male privilege; when he was done, the century-old grandmother as well as one of his sisters was dead. The other sister lay in critical condition in the hospital.
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In a recent report, the Centre for Global Development made a surprising and somewhat startling observation. Looking at the data from several recent studies, they noted that even the very best international development programmes to reduce global poverty could only produce outcomes that were 40 times less successful than the income gain people in poor countries experienced when their citizens were provided greater labour mobility.
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The cuts have already come but the crisis will come later. The budget passed by the United States Senate and House of Representatives announced an $8.8 billion shortfall in the amounts allotted to the US State Department and to USAID, the United States Agency for International Development.
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It is not news to anyone anymore that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. In the streets of Karachi or Lahore or Peshawar, one sees ever more children begging for alms, brushing against cars that cost more than they will ever see in their lifetime.
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