Guest post by J. Jacobs
Talat Farooq is nothing short of extraordinary. Anyone trying to fill her shoes will have to find multiple pairs of feet, as Farooq serves as a poet, educator, human rights activist, student, columnist, and the executive editor of the Islamabad-based Criterion Quarterly. Recently, Farooq has taken up study at the University of Leicester United Kingdom, specializing in American policy towards Pakistan after the September 11th disaster. Although international affairs remain important to her, Farooq also focuses on what goes on in households behind closed doors. Farooq strives to communicate to the world about the struggles of women (Pakistani women, in particular) through her enticing poetry. Her work highlights how difficult it is for women to exercise control in a world run by men, especially in countries where women have continued to be cast aside. Through her colorful writing, Farooq helps the reader to understand the powerlessness and emptiness felt by many females across the world. One of the ways Farooq carries this out is by writing of instances of domestic violence.
Farooq has written two books of poetry, but her second book, Scheherzade, focuses largely on the many forms of abuse carried out against her beloved people. The National Language Authority (NLA) and the literary organization in Sherzad, Islamabad, came together to launch this powerful piece of literature, which has been spoken highly of by NLA chairman, Iftikhar Arif and Urdu poet and activist, Kishwar Naheed. Scheherzade incorporates the political sphere, as one cannot avoid it living as a female in Pakistan. Farooq's poems touch on certain areas of democracy and memorable events, such as the 2008 Pakistani elections, the assassination of former Prime Minister to Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto, and former President Bush's visit to Pakistan. If you seek to learn about women's empowerment, Scheherzade is a necessary read.
Personally, I honor Farooq for speaking out about some issues that frequently go ignored. Because domestic violence occurs in the private sector, many people believe that it shouldn't be brought to the forefront. Too many have been misguided to think that what happens at home should stay among the family. However, if what happens at home results in bruises, lacerations, tear-stained cheeks, or any other destruction to a human body or soul, something must be done to prevent it and/or to ensure that retribution comes to the perpetrator. I'd like to give my personal thanks to Talat Farooq for bringing this issue to the masses. As of now, certain legal blockades exist that prevent us from fully addressing domestic violence in certain parts of the world, but that doesn't mean we can't speak out against these atrocities, thus granting voices to all those who have been abused.
Additionally, abuse does not only come in the form of five fingers. Farooq's writing teaches her readers about the countless social injustices experienced by Pakistanis. Lastly, although women are often the targets, I respect Farooq for recognizing that both males and females are victims of injustices. If we are to move forward, we cannot place the blame on an entire gender, but we must work to end the cause of suffering of all sorts.