In Pakistan, women are often discouraged from loitering while men have no issue with taking up public places. In Pakistan women are expected to have a man with them when they are in many public, urban places, so occupying these spaces as a woman alone, or with other women is condemned. Part of the reason why this social policy is perpetuated is because it can be less safe being a woman on the streets of Pakistan alone, however women do deserve the right to decide weather or not take that risk despite the social environments that they live in.
For this post I would like to focus on a specific movement addressing this idea of women having the right to loiter. Girls at Dhabas is movement that started up in Karachi, Pakistan. Dhabas are essentially roadside tea and food stalls that are located on highways and can also serve as truck stops. These stalls, just like other public areas in Pakistan are traditionally male-occupied spaces in which women are not encouraged to go alone or with other women. It is only permitted for women to go there if they have a man to escort them.
Girls at Dhabas is a movement going on through the internet in which women are taking selfies of themselves drinking tea at dhabas with the hashtag #girlsatdhabas. These women are trying to reclaim these public tea stalls so that women can drink there alongside men. In fact, many men have been joining along with the movement by showing their support and posing with these women at dhabas.
The two women who started this movement are Sadia Khatri and Natasha Ansari. Girls at Dhabas began with a Tumblr blog account in which people could submit photos of themselves drinking tea at Dhabas. They wanted to make sure that women could feel safe and welcome in these public places just as much as men were.
The #girlsatdhabas movement eventually, has spread throughout other areas of South Asia. Also many women have submitted pictures of themselves reclaiming other activities that they are discouraged to do, such as playing street cricket, or riding bicycles. I stumbled onto a post on their Facebook page about an event going on in Lahore and Karachi in which women are going to bicycle together down the street in protest. These women are protesting for their right to reclaim the streets, and other public activities as their own in which they can partake in without criticism.
If you would like to check out the Tumblr blog with all of the pictures you can click on this link: http://girlsatdhabas.tumblr.com/.
In addition, they have a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/girlsatdhabas/?fref=ts
Agha, E. (2016, January 2). India, Pakistan women unite for their right to loiter – Times of India. Retrieved April 16, 2016, from http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/India-Pakistan-women-unite-for-their-right-to-loiter/articleshow/50420327.cms
Desk, W. (2015). #GirlsAtDhabas aims to make dhabas run by women a reality – The Express Tribune. Retrieved March 25, 2016, from http://tribune.com.pk/story/994525/girlsatdhabas-aims-to-make-dhabas-run-by-women-a-reality/
How drinking tea became an act of female rebellion – BBC News. (n.d.). Retrieved March 25, 2016, from http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-34156413
Iqbal, A. (2015). Girls at Dhabas: A much-needed campaign – TNS – The News on Sunday. Retrieved March 25, 2016, from http://tns.thenews.com.pk/girls-at-dhabas-much-needed-campaign/#.VvbjRBIrLow
Kahn, W. S. (n.d.). #GirlsatDhabas: Why This Photo of Eating in Public Is No Mere Selfie. Retrieved March 25, 2016, from http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/girlsatdhabas-how-eating-public-became-thing-pakistan-n429026
Sengupta, A. (2016, April 15). No LoC for loitering women. Retrieved April 16, 2016, from http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/blink/know/no-loc-for-loitering-women/article8476038.ece