Trapped Pakistani women and racist football fans 

in July 14th, 2021

Here's what we emailed out the week of July 14, 2021. Sign up for updates directly in your inbox.

Lesbian couples and single women in France are celebrating a victory. Earlier this month, French parliament passed a bill giving any woman under 43 access to fertility treatment, a right only heterosexual couples previously had. As procedures like IVF (in vitro fertilization) have grown in popularity over the years, the legislation also addresses other related issues, such as now allowing those conceived with donor sperm to learn the identity of the donor.


Kashmir’s complicated border has stranded hundreds of Pakistani women in India

Mon Jul 12

Nearly 400 Pakistani women are stuck in India, neither able to return to their family nor earn Indian citizenship, leading one lawyer to call the situation a humanitarian crisis. How? It’s a complicated tale born out of the continued political tensions over Kashmir, a disputed territory ruled in parts by India or Pakistan. 

  • In the 1990s, thousands of young Indian Kashmiri men illegally crossed the (at the time) lax border from India into Pakistan to train as militants (fighting to join Kashmir entirely to Pakistan or become its own independent country). They ended up marrying Pakistani women, having kids, and staying in Pakistan, but many wanted to return to India with their new family.
  • To do so, some Indian Kashmiri men obtained one-month visitor visas for their Pakistani wives, which were often swiftly thrown out by the husband’s parents who wished to trap their son’s family into staying with them in India.
  • Others waited until 2010 when temporarily improved relations between India and Pakistan resulted in the Kashmir government promising safe passage across the border. Unfortunately, the policy was not properly implemented. 
  • These situations have kept Pakistani women stuck in India for nearly a decade with no legal rights and yet ineligible for documents required to return to Pakistan. 

And as if losing their identity, rights, and freedom is not enough, some of these women are being beaten by their husbands or abandoned for younger women. At least one woman has killed herself while many others suffer from depression. The one beacon of light is a WhatsApp group started by Saira Javid who was arrested in 2007 for not having valid documents after her in-laws tore them up. The group is being used to organize protests and seek legal counsel for the women stuck in this legal limbo. 

But, such legal help is often nonexistent. Under an international convention passed by the UN in 1957, these Pakistani women are entitled to the nationality of their husbands. Still, India refuses to issue them and Pakistani officials say they have no way to help. 

Some additional resources...



England’s diverse football team suffers racist backlash

Mon Jul 12

England is suffering from more than just a loss at the European Championship final. Each of their three Black players are experiencing racist abuse for their performance this weekend (all three failed to score penalties). Now the country’s most high-profile soccer organizations are pushing for legislation that criminalizes online harassment and urging social media companies to do more to remove abusive users.

Though, this abuse has been brewing for quite some time. Following the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement of 2020, all players in the English Premier League agreed to take a knee before every game. While the gesture from the diverse team drew in fans of color across England, players heard just as many boos as they did cheers when stadiums opened to socially-distanced crowds last month. And political responses haven’t helped:

  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced criticism for first saying that he was more focused on action than gestures, which some felt encouraged the booing. He switched his tone on Monday in support of the three players.
  • Prince William, who is also the president of the English Football Association, tweeted that the abuse was sickening and unacceptable — though some found his comments hypocritical after his silence around the racist attacks towards his own sister-in-law Meghan Markle last year.
  • Outside of England, most European football leagues have not participated in the BLM movement, leaving any action to individual players of color. French football held just one day against racism despite the majority of the country’s most notable players being Black.

In response to England’s complaints, social media companies removed thousands of discriminatory posts. Twitter also permanently suspended a number of accounts for violating its rules. Of course, racist abuse is unacceptable even when not high-profile, so the British government is working on legal solutions to ensure these companies protect all users from abusive comments, threats, and harassment. 

Some additional resources... 


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With comments like that, it’s time we kick them off the internet.

Art Credit: Joan Stark

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