WEB DESK: The popular #GirlsAtDhabas movement in Pakistan has taken an initiative to set up a dhaba of their own which would be a space of leisure for women and sexual minorities.
This is purely an attempt to reclaim the streets of Karachi alongside men.
Their initial plan is to collect $10,000 and rent a space. They aspire to set this special dhaba within three months and cover the initial costs. The powerful girls have collected an amount as large as $4007 in just 30 days.
The peculiarity of this rare cause is that it’s not anti- men. The ladies have decided that men will be allowed to come and enjoy at the space but the #dhabaforwomen will only appoint female staff and members of marginalised khwajasira community into society.
Once the #DhabaForWomen has been set up, the young entrepreneurs plan to turn it into a space that runs regular activities, workshops, dialogues and campaigns about women.
Their future plans also include further expansion of the venture by adding leisure activities which have for the longest time been stereotyped as activities for men, including a motorcycling club.
Earlier, the four girls from Girls at Dhabas; Sadia Khatri, Natasha Ansari, Rabeea Arif and Najia Khan, organised a cricket match on the streets of Defence.
Referring to the match Natasha said, “Our women seem more in a mental block. They don’t step out of their houses much. Whatever little they do come out for is to sit in the car, travel to a particular place and that’s it.”
“We will go out more in the open as we first wanted people to get comfortable,” said Sadia. Next in the pipeline is bicycling, as the group occasionally cycles around the neighbourhood. “It is an open group for all those who want to join us. Think of things that you all want to do outside your homes,” she said.
Hoping to receive as many contributions as possible, #girlsatdhabas wish to “create a visual shift in women’s visibility” as well as collaborate with feminist groups in India, offering support and working to resolve issues faced by women/minorities across the border.
Responding to the most famous question faced by women in our society, “log kya kahein ge?” (What will people say?), this ambitious community of women, feminists and activists said, “While there are social stigmas around women’s presence in public spaces in Karachi, our group has not faced any strong reactions of disapproval yet.
However, women’s safety and street harassment are legitimate concerns which we want to consider at every step of the way. We will open our dhaba in a familiar neighborhood, where our community members can feel safe and welcomed. We will provide amenities for our team such as transport and health. We are also connected with a network of feminists and professionals working for women’s rights who will provide advice and support as needed.
We want to facilitate women to re-think and re-navigate our relationships with their cities, and to own and define public spaces on our own terms and whims. You can help make this a reality by supporting #DhabaForWomen.”
You can help this venture by donating $10 or above, participating in #girlsatdhabas by sending them your photos and stories, hosting a street cricket match in your neighbourhood as or volunteering as a cricket coach or simply by spreading the word among your friends and relatives( especially those who can donate). Old bicycles/motorcycles are also accepted.
Note that #Girlsatdhabas is a community of women, feminists and activists who want to claim male-dominated spaces in our communities that are not traditionally “supposed” to be occupied by women and sexual minorities, or are considered inaccessible and hostile spaces for us.