women in karachi
Image Source: adb.org

Karachi is a metropolitan city indeed. It has people from every region, every religion, every culture in Pakistan. Similarly, it has (almost) every mode of transport you can imagine. Yet, as ironic as this is for a melting pot, women in Karachi need to be very particular about how they dress based on the transport they take.

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How do women in Karachi decide?

“Today, I might have to go on D7 (local bus), I can’t go western!”
Takes chadar!

“I have to come home early so I will have to do book a car, I can totally wear my favorite outfit.”
Dresses up in top and jeans.  

“Let’s save up and take one of those private bus services, shall we?”
Takes out a kameez with jeans.

ride hailing women in karachi
Image Source: The New York Times

The mode of travel and their exposure to Karachi streets makes them decide what to wear. They feel safer to wear what they want when taking private cars and want to cover up more when traveling in public transport even though they know covering up more will not stop the men from looking. But it is just how they have been tuned to think.

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The argument of culture

People might say, “But oh shalwar kameez is our culture,” and it sure is. But isn’t it embarrassing for us as a nation that our sisters, mothers, daughters do not feel safe? That we have not created an environment where they can walk freely without caring whether they are wearing revealing clothes or is their dress clinging to our body too much?

Image Source: Egypt Today

Understanding the link

But what is the link between mode of transport and wardrobe choice? God forbid, but if someone intends to harass, they can do so in a car as well. Then, why is that women would change the entire wardrobe decision based on the mode of transport? It is because of how many people would have access to them. The more their visibility, the more the chances of them getting harassed.

Thus, to get to a bus, they have to travel to a bus stop, attracting eyeballs. They have to wait at the bus stop, and then even during the ride, they have to deal with people eyeing them. Because of (even if it is fake) the sense of security, they are able to get through the ride while donning on shalwar kameez and a chadar.

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