Throughout the month of July, Daastan carried out an awareness campaign for Sexual and Reproductive health Rights. Through a Story Writing Competition, we took initiative to start a healthy discussion on the topic. Discussing SRHR has always been a taboo in many parts of the world and we wanted to break that chain.
We began the campaign by introducing the issue through a Facebook Live session with founders of Stories to Action.
Iris Pi and Sanne Thijssen along with Summaiya Naveed and Samin Alam from Daastan conducted the live. They explained what SRHR is and how people could participate in the #WeToo campaign to make a change. This was followed by a detailed blog on SRHR published by Daastan to further explain the issue and give a clear idea of what kind of short stories we were looking for. Gladly, the hardwork paid off and we received some amazing stories this month.
Story Writing Competition Winners!
We received stories both in English and Urdu language. Some stories were exceptionally well put but unfortunately, could not meet our criteria. Some stories drifted away from the themes. However, there were 9 such stories that were exactly the stories we were looking for. Writers put in great effort and talent and we are so happy with the response we received!
Here are the writers of our top 8 Stories that we will be publishing on Qissa and submitting to Stories to Action!
Our Favourite Picks
Among these stories, here are a few excerpts that really stood out for our team. We believe they deserve special recognition!
Pappu is what they call you. That’s not your name though. Merely a title, and it’s not unique either. There’re probably a dozen more living in the same city. A dozen boys like you. Boys who are ‘Allah log’ or ‘saaen’ of their mohallas.When you don’t have a broad chest and strong arms and you’re weak and clumsy, always looking down with a harmless smile on your face, you kind of earn these titles, first in your school and then in your whole village, until a time comes when they forget your real name, calling you ‘Pappu, Pappu’ all the time.You don’t mind it, or ‘take offence’ as they put it sometimes. You’re weak, remember? You can’t stand up and shout curses like all of them. You’ve been taught to behave. For if you don’t, they’ll break your legs.Also, how many Pappus have ever taken offence? They’ll just cry sometimes. But then, some boys fight and win, some others – not so boyish – just stand and cry, even if it’s not their fight. And they all grow, though differently.
At her lack of response he continued,” I have been raised in a society where men don’t talk, sure we joke about physical intimacy but no one educates us, when a guy gets married he doesn’t know much, he is told that his ability to sire children decides his manliness, and he believes that. The idea that he might have some problem is unbearable, so like everything else in this society we blame the woman. It’s easier, it’s the norm, it’s such an unconscious action that you don’t even realise it. I didn’t know I was doing it until recently, I realized how I blamed you and was so proud of myself for still loving you, for not holding anything against you.
آدھے گھنٹے بعد شہاب کی جنونی کیفیت کچھ کم ہوئی تو اس کے حواس قدرے بحال ہونے لگے، کپڑے پہنے اور سو کا نوٹ اسے دے کر بولا، ”بھاگ اب یہاں سے، اور خبردار باہر کسی سے کچھ کہا ورنہ میں چوری کے کیس میں اندر کروا دوں گا۔ پیسے لے اور باہر سے روٹی کھا لینا اور خاموش رہنا سمجھا، لے یہ ایک اور کیک لے اور ٹھنڈے پانی کی بوتل بھی، اور ادھر نظر نہ آنا پھر اور خاموش بھی رہنا۔“
We congratulate all the winners and thank all those who submitted their stories. The purpose of this story writing competition was to bring such issues to discussion. We thank you all for playing an important role in bringing social change in society!
Stay tuned for further updates on the winning stories. As promised, Daastan will be publishing these stories online on Qissa. If you support our cause, you can join us today and play your part!
Books are better teachers than any school curriculum. They let us peek into lives– real and unreal—go to places we’ve never been, face situations we’ve never encountered and come out stronger and wiser. 5 years ago, Daastan took its first step towards realizing its goal of educating the masses through books. We wanted to make a book lover out of every individual whose life we touched and see a book in every hand. Today, Daastan has progressed with leaps and bounds and continues to expand its mission.
One such instance of furthering our vision was when we partnered with Books and Beyond in what turned out to be a highly successful series of book club events.
Daastan Chasing their Vision by Partnering with Books and Beyond
To develop interest and increase membership of Books and Beyond- a literary club from Hyderabad- Daastan decided to sponsor their second of many book club meets held at Khanabadosh Writers’ Café in Hyderabad. The book club discussed Manto, Dostoevsky, Existentialism and Socialism.
Daastan provided the attendees with literary souvenirs such as bookmarks and tote bags with phrases like “Books not bombs” and “Knowledge is power!”. The purpose of the freebies was to impart positive vibes to the members and encourage them to attend even more book clubs, thereby increasing their love for literature and reading. The gifts from Daastan were well-received and all in all, the book club was a smashing success.
About Books and Beyond
Taking birth in the soulful city of Hyderabad, Books and Beyond is a literary club that started in 2016. Its goal is to bring both amateur and seasoned readers together in a single space and break through reading barriers in Hyderabad. They are also expanding into bigger cities like Karachi. Run by a hardworking team of bibliophiles, Books and Beyond works to promote reading culture among students, revive the lost interest in reading, hold in-depth discussions between like-minded people and encourage writers to share their writings.
Under the leadership of Huda Bhurgri and Khushbakht Memon, this literary club has organized various successful events. The events include book club meetups, open mic sessions and digital discussion groups.
The Founder of Books and Beyond, Huda Bhurgri
Our very own #Oneof50, Ms. Huda Bhurgri is a power woman! She is the founder of Books and Beyond and a social enterprise Soormi, that works towards women empowerment. Her love for literature and a dream of equality drives her to hustle harder every day and amaze us with her achievements.
Ms. Huda, along with her friend, Ms. Khushbakht Memon, founded Books and Beyond in 2016 when both of them felt a void in Hyderabad’s literary space. They believed that Hyderabad was home to a number of book lovers but the diminishing reader body of Hyderabad left little room for them to openly talk about books with like-minded people. With a solution in mind, these ambitious ladies started holding book club meets in a safe and healthy environment and made a special space for Hyderabad’s literati. And thus, Books and Beyond was formed. Daastan is proud to have been a partner of such an innovative literary initiative. We love putting in our share in literary and social enterprises and increase book love all across Pakistan!
If you’re an enterprise looking to partner with us, drop us an email email@example.com and Sign Up with us!
Libraries around the world are perhaps the most peaceful places. Entering a library is like entering a whole new universe. Silence, the enchanting smell of paper and readers all around make up an ideal place to relax your mind. Let me break this wall and tell you my own experience. I visit an old library right behind my college. Now imagine an old building in Lahore. Shameless moist walls, unable to hold the paint together, with huge wooden book shelves filled with books of all sizes. The long-necked fan is hanging low on top of your head while you sit on a worn out chair that creaks every time you take a deep breath. Yes, its sounds uncomfortable but it was paradise for many. The paradise we lost to CoronaVirus!
Libraries And Social Distancing
It is ironic how despite being surrounded by so many people, everyone is immensely occupied with themselves. Once in a while you see two people whispering over a book. At one end of a table, two old men discussing the fresh newspaper are hushed by the angry librarian. Some keep sliding down the aisle looking for a resource book. However mostly, (in my case always) people are drowned in the books under their noses. Point being, social distance is strictly practised in a library. But CoronaVirus is way more demanding!
Are We Completely Shifting To e-Books ?
As going out is not the safest thing anymore, how will libraries survive? In Pakistan, libraries were already far less populated even before the virus broke out. In this digital age where everything is shifting online, will libraries too evolve or completely die in the process? Are libraries even relevant today when every possible information is just a google search away?
Tell us how you envision a post-corona-library. How do you read and how often you used to visit a library. For Daastan, saying goodbye to the old Library won’t be an easy task. Sign Up with us and be a part of this struggle to save the reading culture!
#WeToo is Daastan’s Story Writing campaign based on Sexual and Reproductive health issues. The aim behind this campaign is to promote Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) in Pakistan. In many countries including Pakistan, discussing Sexual and Reproductive health issues is considered a taboo. Seeking medical help is out of question for many. A huge amount of people living in Rural areas lack even the basic knowledge regarding SRHR. Story writing is a powerful tool to help spread awareness. We are thankful to our writers who always participate enthusiastically in our campaigns and invite you all to be a part of our cause.
What is SRHR and #WeToo?
#WeToo is the name of our story writing campaign. It derives its meaning from the context of #metoo – sexual harrasment campaign. #WeToo focuses on how men and women are not allowed to share their sexual and reproductive health issues simply because it is considered shameful. SRHR stands for Sexual Reproductive Health Rights. Sexual health is the physical, mental and social security of men and women. Sexual rights are the rights associated with one’s sexuality,sexual privacy and pleasure. Each one of us has a right to make descisions for ourselves. Marriage does not give your partner the right to dictate your sexual life and this needs to be accepted and respected.
Reproductive health rights are the basic rights to decide for your reproductive capability. Deciding when and if to have children is your right. Couples should be allowed to mutually decide and carry out family planning. Seeking medical help and consultation and not being discriminated against for doing so is also part of your reproductive rights.
Details of #WeToo
We are looking for authentic stories that highlight the harsh realities we face in Pakistan. Domestic abuse, marital rape, having no consent in family planning, being harrased online by threats to leak your private information or pictures on the internet are all around us. We witness these stories on a day to day basis but in whispers and private chats. By bringing these stories to the forefront, we want to show support to the victims and make the perpetrators feel threatened. We hope to educate our public on what their rights are so that next time they are being shamed, they know how to defend themselves.
Word limit for the story writing competition is 1500-2000 words. You can have a look at the themes and submit your stories on this link. If you support our cause and want to be a part of something meaningful, sign up with us today and play your part. Every voice matters!
As the last episode of Mused by Daastan aired last week, we experienced a plethora of emotions. On one hand we are sad to pause this journey of learning – while on the other, hopeful for the future. The response we gathered is inspiring and motivating enough to push us further. Have a look at what our host Ms. Summaiya Naveed had to say about this.
We started Mused with the vision to help creatives—a vision we will take forward as the series advances. For now, I hope the first season has helped aspiring writers and given them a nudge towards achieving their dreams. I’ve had a great time creating such content for you and an even better time having conversations with the viewers. You’re an inspiring lot and you give our team the motivation we need to keep putting in our part in the development of the Pakistani Literary industry. What is needed most now is work. Work to distinguish ourselves as a people of superior intellect and an awe-inspiring amount of talent. The first season of Mused leaves me hopeful that we’re talking a step towards achieving that very goal.
Ms Summaiya Naveed expressing her feelings on the last episode of Mused
A Recap of Season 1 – Mused
This season, Summaiya discussed in great detail, the issues related to writing and publishing. We started off with learning the common writing mistakes, Do’s and Don’ts of writing and errors that most writers and publishers make. Then we moved on to the state of our Publishing industry,scope for writers and the condition as well as future of the writers’ community of Pakistan. We were joined by two guests who shared their own experiences and gave useful tips along the way. We had a special episode on writing poetry– on account of the proliferation of poetry writers in our community.
What We Discused In Episode 6
1. Issues With English Language
Firstly, Summaiya shared her opinion on the use of the global lingua franca – English Language. According to her, Languages have socio-political importance. In South Asia, specifically the areas affected by colonization, English language became a symbol of status. The higher classes who merged well with the British and learned the language, associated an attitude of pride with English. We have perhaps inherited the same behaviour. Summaiya condemned this attitude and explained how languages are primarily a means of communication only. Language should not be used to claim superiority or make someone else feel belittled.
According to Summaiya, the role of English in dividing social classes has created a hindrance for those who wish to improve their language. The fear of being ridiculed for pronouncing something incorrectly keeps people away from actually learning the language. Summaiya advised us to change this behaviour towards the language and encourage people to learn in a healthy way.
Secondly, Summaiya discussed the issue of plagiarism in great detail. First and foremost, she explained how plagiarism is a serious crime. In simple words, it refers to the act of copying someone else’s work and putting it as your own consequently, giving no due credit to the owner. This is plainly cheating on someone. It is morally incorrect and demotivating for creatives to work. Summaiya expressed her concern over the absence of laws to protect creatives from plagiarism. There needs to be a certain amount of accountability to avoid crimes like plagiarism. Publishing companies should regulate the content brought by authors to make sure it is not plagiarised.
Daastan is proud to have shared this journey with you all. It is our mission to promote literary activities and discussions through such platforms like Mused. We hope that writers benefited from these Lives sessions and we aim to keep bringing informative content for our followers. Sign Up at Daastan and keep yourself engaged in similar content!
The month of April is national poetry writing month (NaPoWriMo). Writers from all around the world join together to celebrate the art of poetry writing. We at Daastan took this opportunity to engage our followers in a poetry chain contest. Every day, we shared a prompt verse and asked our followers to continue the verse. The next person to comment would continue thereby making a chain of poetry as a combined effort.
Selected Poetry From #NaPoWriMo
We shared prompts, both in English and Urdu language on alternate days. This activity was thoroughly enjoyed by the participants. The talent and zeal showcased everyday was commendable. The standard of poetry was beyond our expectation, leaving us in a difficult position to choose the best ones. However, we selected 2 poems from English and 3 from Urdu to feature in our blog. The selected English poems are:
English Poem #1
This crimson house with its crimson walls
Set on fire with the love calls
Is this love or just another bloodied stain?
Etched with rivers while the calm moon gazes
And the night whispers softly, lyrical phrases
Though it was bygone – forgotten
The secrets it holds, remained unspoken
Hold a prisoner inside with dusky eyes.
& me with my poems
Engulfed by unheard echoing calls
English Poem #2
The city is alight, with hope it’s bright
The light of its sunrise, envelopes
the darkness and fills everyone with delight
Its air is rich in music and it’s
echoed with the sound of dancing feet
Go to your window and inhale this treat
The darkest hours will pass by,
with resilience you and I will fight
Similarly, response on our Urdu prompts was equally energetic and competitive. We chose the following 3 poems:
1 نظم / Urdu Poem #1
سرحد کے اس پار
جی چاہے اک بار میں جاؤں
جہاں زندگی ہماری طرح ہنستی تو کبھی روتی
کچھ لوگوں سے شناسائی لگتی ہے
کچھ قصے پریت کے، کچھ وعدے من میت کے
جو اب بن کے رہ گئے کتاب کی کہانی میں
وہاں جلترنگ ہواؤں کا ہے نگر
جو یادوں کی داستاں لیے
ہم جیسے انسانوں کی ایک بستی ہے جہاں ملتے ہیں زمیں و آسمان
نظم 2 / Urdu Poem # 2
میں نئی امید ہوں
جیون کی تمہید ہوں
فرحت بخش دید ہوں
اک سریلا گیت ہوں
ہوا میں بکھری بادِ نسیم ہوں
اور تم اس مین ایک استعارہ ہو
تاریک دنیا میں سحر کی دلیل ہو!
قوسِ وقزح کے رنگوں سی
اک نئی صبح کی نوید ہو
نظم 3 / Urdu Poem # 3
میری سوچوں کی پرواز کہاں تک
پنپتے خوابوں کی آواز کہاں تک
ہے میرے خوابوں کی اڑان کہاں تک
تیرے نغموں کى آواز جہاں تک نیلے آسماں سے دور کہیں
اونچا اڑتے ہیں جہاں الفاظ میرے
مگر یہ بھی سچ ہے اس خاک کی اڑان کہاں تک
Honorary Mentions For Our Poetry Campaign
We have selected Mr Obien Mayo and Ms. Amna Shah as active participants and we acknowledge their contribution to our campaign. Their active participation speaks for the love for poetry and Literature that they possess. We thank all our participants for showing interest and contributing to our effort.
Are you excited for our next month’s campaign? Well, we surely are! We have another interesting theme to follow in the month of May. So follow us on our Facebook and Instagram pages and Sign Up at Daastan to catch up on our monthly Literary activities!