The Express Tribune: April 5, 2015… The Nirbhaya case struck a raw nerve due to the brutality of the attack and the story of a girl, Jyoti, who was working tirelessly as a medical student to pull herself and her family out of the squalor they lived in. As Sonia Faleiro notes in 13 Men, “It was easy for middle- and upper-class women to see themselves in [Jyoti].” But this story from a remote, forested corner of Birbhum district in West Bengal had another angle: “It played into Indian stereotypes about ignorant tribals and their brutal systems of justice.” It didn’t help that the Santhal tribe is traditionally insular and considers all non-tribals, even fellow Bengalis, to be ‘diku’ (outsiders) and insists on speaking Santhali, a language understood by practically no one outside their tribe. This just made the tribesmen seem even more untrustworthy — backward — as far as the media was concerned.
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Photo credit: Sonia Faleiro
The Express Tribune: March 1, 2015
I first met Fatima Bhutto the day a small heart-shaped icon blinked on my phone’s screen, informing me that ‘fbhutto’ had liked one of my photographs on Instagram. And then on February 13th, a few hours before her latest work, a short story called Democracy, was released online, Fatima invited me to her home.
It felt impossible that we would not to talk about politics. On the way to 70 Clifton, I drove past graffiti that pleaded, “Fatima, you are our only hope”, and as I walked into the house, I expected to see the faces of generations of Bhuttos looking down at me. Yes, they were all there, but so were some unexpected visitors: dozens of children from nearby Neelum Colony, who come to the house to seek refuge from the streets, do their homework, or join art classes with Fatima’s mother Ghinwa.
I decided then that I wouldn’t interview Fatima the Bhutto but Fatima the writer: the woman who spent a night in the kitchens of London’s storied Delaunay restaurant so she could learn to make croissants, who seemed to have a weak spot for beautiful shoes and who gives all her books away as a rule. It seemed fitting to take the conversation out of 70 Clifton and back online, where we first met. And so, for one week, Fatima and I emailed each other.
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The Express Tribune: February 14, 2015
It just got harder for Fatima Bhutto to dodge questions about politics in Pakistan.
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