Why Can’t Girls Sit At Dhabas?

By: Beena Ahmed


The budding high cost ‘chai- cafes’ are sprouting in every corner of Karachi, places that allow women to have some tea in peace.

CHai 3

But what about the old ‘quetta chai khanas’ and ‘dhabas’, what’s with the gender stereotype? Limiting  the sitting area to males and if by chance a girl feels the need to quench her thirst for some freshly brewed doodhpatti, she would have to sacrifice her 5 minutes of leisure to the nasty stares of how many people ?


Let’s break it down for you…

The waiter, the dhaba owner, the people already seated ,roadside civilians ,people in cars, bikes, rickshaws. Everyone gives you a shameful glance people are even crude enough to pass smirks and remarks as if it was their birth right. And here I’ll point it out that men and women  both are to be blamed for the penetrating stares and cold comments.

Mocking women who dare to enter areas that are overcrowded by male dominance has become a cascade of disgust that transcends into different parts of Karachi, it has no end and that is what should be claimed as shameful. It’s shameful when a mother can’t send her daughter alone, because she is scared.

A mother scared not because of her daughter’s actions but by what other might try to do when they see a young female alone. Here a male companion is considered the sign of security, protection, representing the symbol of the girl belonging to a respected family.

Girls who don’t have brothers or the support of a male companion, are left to cater their own services without being dependent on anyone else but are sadly labeled  with derogatory and sarcastic terms such as ‘ Awara’ , ‘modern’,’ burger’, ‘outgoing’, ‘open minded’ and god knows what else. People cast weird comments, inviting themselves in to judge their character and question their upbringing.

I asked some girls what people including relatives say when you go out alone

Relatives lend words of advice to my mother, “How can you let your daughter go out alone? Don’t you fear God? If you don’t have a husband or sons at least don’t send them out after ‘magrhib’.

(Like timing really matters)

Going that far just to watch a movie with your friends?

What’s  the matter with you can’t go alone that far.

(I’m not alone mom, I’m with my friends…)

Dhabas and Sheesha places are certainly not places meant for girls beta, there are just some places where it’s better for girls to stay away.

Good girls don’t go in these areas.

(Good girls’ ki category kaunsi hoti hai)

These comments ruthless and hard to endure but just like Frida says,

To create a change, we must be the change, old saying but true. All of this is just a fabrication of fear portrayed by the evil roots of patriarchy embedded in the minds of our society.

There is no such restriction for girls to sit at dhabas, go sit, enjoy, spend time with your friends and if anyone even tries to say anything to you then it is your rightful duty to confront them. Be the voice of all those women who are deprived of the simple joys in life. Do not let your happiness depend on what others think and say and you’ll be soon long gone from thinking about “Log kya kahenge”.




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