Balochistan: Pakistan’s land of the disappeared

Hani Baloch and her fiance Nasim never thought of themselves as dissidents, but one day in May — just weeks before their wedding — the students were snatched by armed and hooded men she says were from Pakistan’s security services. The men accused the couple of being part of a terrorist organisation from Balochistan, the […]

Games without frontiers: Indians, Pakistanis team up for eSports

When India banned the hit PUBG mobile game over its diplomatic row with China, Zeyan Shafiq’s eSports team was suddenly left without players. So Shafiq, who is based in war-torn Kashmir, did something very unusual: he reached across the border to Pakistan. Shafiq, 18, feared reprisals over his move, but none came. It resulted in […]

‘What choice do we have?’: Rohingya women face odyssey of misery

Stay in a squalid refugee camp — hopeless, starving, and made to feel a burden — or leave, risking death, rape, human trafficking and months at sea to reach a husband you’ve never met. This is the bleak choice many Rohingya women, already scarred from fleeing violent persecution in Myanmar, are now facing. As conditions […]

Actress relives family history in new film Funny Boy

by LAUREN CODLING AN ACTRESS who lived through the 1983 riots in Sri Lanka revealed it was “surreal” to recreate scenes from the deadly ambush in her new Netflix movie. Nimmi Harasgama plays the lead female role in Funny Boy, which follows the life of a young gay man in Colombo. It is set in […]

Once upon a time: Pakistan’s fabled storytellers fade away

Mohammad Naseem’s eyes shine while he shares the legend of a remote, alpine lake nestled among snow-capped Himalayan peaks as a rare crowd of onlookers hears one of Pakistan’s last “storytellers”. The story of Saif-ul-Malook — the winding saga of a brave prince who falls in love with a fairy — is just one of […]

To ward off pandemic, India’s indigenous tribes find remedies in forests

A few weeks ago, Mukteshwar Kalo, a member of the Kondh tribe in eastern India, suddenly came down with a fever, cough and aches. Nearly anywhere else, these symptoms would be enough to raise fears of COVID-19, but 58-year-old Kalo, who lives in Surupa village in the state of Odisha, was not worried. His wife […]

Women who escaped slavery turn anti-trafficking crusaders in India

Separated from her parents, Jayashree Ponrajan spent most of her teenage years trapped in a form of bonded labour – forced to live and work in the spinning mills of southern India. It took Ponrajan years to find a way out, but ever since then she has been denouncing the recruitment of teenagers in India’s […]

Middleman matters: Behind Indian protests against Modi farm reforms

Undeterred by the harsh winter of India’s capital, its toxic air and surging coronavirus cases, Sukhbinder Singh is among tens of thousands of farmers camped out in protest on the city’s outskirts, along with tractors, trailers, SUVs and food trucks. The farmers say they have enough flour, potatoes and other provisions to stay put for […]

Single parents’ group offers a ‘safe space’ to seek support

by LAUREN CODLING A SINGLE mother has revealed the stigma against divorce in the Asian community, saying some keep it a secret from their loved ones. Aruna Bansal, who is from Kent, is the founder of the Asian Single Parents Network (ASPN) CIC. Set up in 2011, the group offers support to single parents from […]

Taslima Nasreen: Relentless rebel revelling in polemics

Banished from her homeland with a bounty on her head, author Taslima Nasreen has been forced to live in exile for more than a quarter of a century — but she refuses to bow to the religious fundamentalists that want her dead. The fiery 58-year-old Bangladeshi, whose bestsellers include A French Lover and Shodh: Getting […]

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