This single mother in Lahore shows that moms can really do anything for their children
Pakistani women, like many of their counterparts around the world, have to face unique struggles when it comes to being able to become full fledged members of the public space. From unequal wages to men not usurping their rightful place to participate in public life to having to juggle caring for their families as the primary caregivers if they do decide to end up become a “working woman”, they have seen it all. The story of this single mother in Lahore is one such tale of a woman’s struggle through the hardships that this society has thrown her way.
Farheen is a single mother in Lahore who runs a shop in Anarkali bazaar Lahore
Having no male breadwinner of the family, Farheen runs the khokha to make both ends meet for herself and her 9-year-old daughter.
But in order to be able to safely maneuver the public space and be able to earn for herself she has to dress up as a man
Disguising her womanhood in man’s clothing was the only chance she had to take care of her daughter so Farheen decided to take this step.
In order to survive as a single mother in Lahore, Farheen also drives a cab
In her own words, Farheen shared her story saying, “[m]y name is Farheen. I have been living in Lahore since 8 years. I have a 9 year old daughter who lives with me in a hostel. Both of us work at a small shop in new Anarkali Bazaar which is empty because i have no money to have items in the shop. I have to dress up like a man, be a tomboy to run my own shop otherwise its very uncomfortable for me. I have been driving [U]ber as well but that still doesn’t help with the day to day tasks or the shop.
My only request is that people help me to add things to my shop so i can sell them. Things like Toffee biscuits easyload juices cold drinks etc. Items that are available on a general store. I have to give this month’s rent as well but currently I don’t see it happening.
I don’t want any money. I want to make money the halaal way and earn it but unfortunately i need help at the moment so i am reaching out to people. My address is: Ali general store ali plaza near makki chay[sic] wala new [A]narkali bazar[sic] [L]ahore. Anyone can come and visit if they want to.”
But all of this still wasn’t enough to pay for her rent and her daughter’s education so, hearing her story after it was posted on the Humans of Lahore Facebook page, people raised Rs. 1,94,000/- within five days for her.
While the struggle of Farheen and how social media came together to help financially support her is inspiring, it also lays bare how difficult our society makes it for women to be able to survive without men in their lives. The fact that Farheen has to present herself in a masculine way out of compulsion, and not choice, exposes the deep hypocrisy of people who pretend that Pakistan is a safe community for women just by virtue of being a Muslim country, despite not espousing any real values of the religion it takes so much pride in.
Update: this post has been updated to mention the correct name of the Facebook page where Farheen’s story was shared. Earlier it was mistakenly mentioned Humans of Pakistan. The amount collected has also been updated after the page admins reached out to request that the Rs. 15,000/- amount mentioned on their Facebook post was not the actual number.
Cover image via Humans of Lahore / Facebook