FACTORY FARMED CHICKEN – A CAUSE OF POLYCYSTIC OVARIAN SYNDROME (PCOS) IN WOMEN

Definition

It is defined as hormonal problem that causes women various symptoms including:

  • Acne
  • Excess hair growth
  • Irregular or no periods

Introduction

As a girl grows old & she achieves her puberty certain hormonal changes takes place in females which leads her to puberty & finally she achieves her puberty soon after her first menstrual cycle (periods). These periods must be regular on every month, but if it gets irregular the problem starts from here, girl starts worrying about her cycles & further stress begins.

WHAT IS POLY-CYSTIC OVARIAN SYNDROME (PCOS)?

As per abbreviation PCOS means Poly Cyctic Ovarian Syndrome which means that there are multiple cysts (balloon like structure) present in the ovaries abnormally. Ovaries are the 2 endocrine structures present in the female reproductive tract mainly responsible for certain hormones secretion & egg production which lets a female to achieve her reproductive cycles & to conceive.

The basic problem begins from the pituitary gland which is responsible for the hormone release as the sedentary life style, genetic makeup & obesity combines this causes the hypothalamus to release excessive gonadotrophs which leads to the mismatch between the LH (Luteinizing Homone) & FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone). These are the hormones which luteinize & stimulate the follicles from the ovaries to develop & finally shed off leading to the menstrual cycle. Due to this mismatch, the androgens are the hormones which when increase in the blood, causes the ovaries to develop multiple pearl like cysts in the ovaries. Other action of this excessive androgen is on the hair follicles which starts growing on the different parts of body. Due to the increased androgen & cysts formation the regular monthly cycles (period) gets irregular.

HOW IS FACTORY FARMED CHICKEN A CAUSE OF RAPIDLY INCREASING CASES OF PCOS?

In 1957 the average growth period for an eating chicken to reach slaughter weight was 63 days. By the 1990s the number of growth days had been reduced to 38 & the amount of feed required halved. Today these values have dropped to surprising values.



The consumers of chicken are currently way higher than the chicken are produced. In order to fulfill the increased chicken requirement they are being injected by hormonal injections which reduce their growth time resulting the chicken to reach the slaughter weight in a very few days.

The chicken is injected with Bovine Growth Hormone, which can increase insulin-like growth factor one in humans.  Perhaps worse, other hormones such as estrogen & testosterone are approved by the FDA for injection into the animals via an earpiece each animal is implanted with at birth. The FDA claims that even with supplementation the animal’s hormonal profile falls within normal ranges.

Moreover, chickens have been bred through genetic selection for several decades to produce birds that grow larger & faster, on less feed, than chickens of earlier eras. Giving growth hormones to modern farmed poultry would be pointless, as those birds could not possibly grow any faster. Hormones must be injected, not consumed through the intake of feed, in order to work. Chickens would have to be injected with growth hormones on a regular basis, a far too expensive & labor-intensive process for poultry farmers to undertake.

Clinically what happens to a female who has pcos?

The female gets under some changes which includes:

  • Menstrual disorders
  • Adrenal enzyme deficiencies
  • Hirsutism (excessive growth of hair on lips, chin, buttocks, thighs – known as male like hair pattern) are 80% common
  • Infertility (unable to conceive)
  • Obesity & metabolic syndrome
  • Diabetes
  • Decrease breast size
  • Deepening of voice
  • Hair loss (alopecia)
  • Acne
  • Pelvic pain
  • Stress & Depression



 

As PCOS is recently found to be one of the major endocrine disorder in young females. Every female needs answer to the question that why & what causes this PCOS.

  • A female with central obesity (fat on the tummy) is said to be on the major risk of POCS understanding evidently the relation between obesity & PCOS. Obesity means increased fat (adipose tissue) in your body, which increase fats causing androgen production & this androgen as mentioned above causes the multiple pearls formation on the ovaries.
  • Studies suggest that the poultry chicken that are grown in the poultry farms on the basis of injections injected to the chick to grow rapidly are also the cause of PCOS in the young females as the population in our country is more use to of eating junk food in terms of chicken.
  • Genes are always responsible for certain syndromes which includes PCOS as well. We all carry genes from our parents if a parent is affected or even the parent have a mutated gene their offsprings have more chance to have PCOS.
  • Antiepileptic drugs such as valproic acid are also the culprit.
  • Females having type II diabetes are insulin resistant which usually leads to PCOS.
  • Female born with type I diabetes are also on the risk of PCOS.
  • Living sedentary life with lots of junk food in your diet leads to increase adipose tissue as this condition is related to the hormone imbalance the increase in adipose tissue causes insulin resistance which causes the androgens to increase and leads to PCOS.

HOW TO DIAGNOSE PCOS?

The diagnosis is easy as compared to the pathophysiology of the PCOS. PCOS is diagnosed on the criteria knows as ROTTERDAM criteria, the presence of 12 or more cysts in the ovary measuring 2-9 mm in size is the diagnostic criteria for the PCOS.

Other diagnosis is based on the:

  • Increased LH-FSH ratio
  • Abnormal TSH levels
  • Raised androgen levels
  • Fasting glucose level

Getting PCOS diagnosed is not a worrisome condition being worried is not a solution to the problem. PCOS is treated with the medical intervention in worsened cases & conditions.

  • The first thing need to treat is your sedentary lifestyle (a type of lifestyle with little or no physical activity. A person living a sedentary lifestyle is often sitting or lying, while reading, socializing, watching television, playing video games, or using a mobile phone/computer for much of the day) & obesity.
  • Decreasing the weight leads to decreased number of adipose tissue, which as a result decrease the insulin resistance further resulting in decreased androgen formation. When androgens are regulated properly the pearls in ovaries will not be formed.
  • Metformin is the drug of choice in these patients because it has a dramatic role in decreasing the insulin resistance.
  • GNrH analogues can be given
  • Oral contraceptive pills
  • Combined oral contraceptive pills
  • Androgen antagonists

As soon as the hormonal imbalance gets reverse & the balance starts the female achieves her normal cycles back & then the infertility treatment can let her to conceive.

If you are afraid of sharing your condition with your health care provider then this condition may lead to its complication which can be really troublesome for a doctor to treat. Every person in the world is not perfect, no matter what condition you have a doctor is always a good care taker.

PCOS Complications include

  • Infertility
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • High cholesterol
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Sleep apnea
  • Endometrial cancer
  • Heart attack
  • Diabetes
  • Breast cancer

Homes Remedies include



 

5 HACKS ABOUT WOMEN OF ALL TIME

As a short note: “Woman can not take a decision,  are poor managers, are too emotional drama, are excessive buyers & are too expressive… ARE ALL COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS… if you do not trust me read it & reflect.”

Duh! Women can take care of lions, cats & all pets, who is a human?
First a home which is governed by woman; mother is more productive than homes governed by fathers since woman are more concerned about quality over numbers. Recent scientific research about woman at workplace suggests, “Women at workplace are as important as men because women take care of quality at workplace resulting higher productivity & progress, reducing tension & stress at workplace. Likewise women at home have been better playing their roles being concerned about child’s health, education & security as well as making the habits of family.

Secondly, women by nature are excellent in soft skills & are compassionate towards others. Therefore, women take care of customers needs as effectively as a mother can which helps them take better decisions. As the ultimate goal of both the parties, mother & manager is to maximize shareholders wealth (family members) or satisfy the customer needs (children). Similarly, women at home take care of everyone’s needs as effectively as any manager in the organization can. Hence, a declamation which says woman are poor managers & decision makers remains an opinion and not a fact.

Thirdly, women are considered weak in emotional intelligence since they react easily bursting into tears regarding it as sign of weakness looked down for. Research on emotional intelligence as shared by Thinking Minds have revealed that emotionally intelligence is not similar to being cold & pretending like nothing happened. Rather to react in anyway which is harmless to others such as crying, undergoing some exercises, usually women choose to concentrate on work, or even listening to the one compassionately actually helps the emotional intelligence to grow & make a person stronger, habit of mothers while bringing up a child. This quality leads to better understanding of situations helping to make better decisions in future.

Fourth, women are blind after their desires of shopping, entertainment e.t.c & can not differentiate between useful & wasteful is a direct insult to the taste of woman as mothers. There is no mother who chooses a thing of waste for her children. Women are more evaluative when it comes to choosing & buying a thing for either personal or household use. She would not buy a thing that does not adds to the value of house & people of the house. Women buy too much but they buy needs is the real cause of buying because she is the one who is going to manage & direct the members of the house. She knows who needs what and how much. So be thankful to her for whatever she does for you.

Last, women are effective communicators in all forms of feminine which is misperceived as they are too expressive or bold; outspoken since the right to speak for woman is a sin or disgust. Woman can express themselves more vividly & harmlessly unless triggered to react in an unacceptable way. Woman are more direct about their feelings which does not make them any drama queen or emotional fool. Rather woman are honest with their feelings & spiritual souls. To say what you feel is actually becoming a challenge in this cold world. The solution is not to remain silent but to develop tolerance to be able to absorb what is said.

Woman is the most flexible creation of God who is capable of both what a man can & can not. Hence, woman should stop comparing themselves with men & start appreciating their existence as an independent & incomparable creation of God.

BEAUTY

BEAUTY – We often hear this word. We almost hear it every day.We have heard people calling different things as beautiful. Even different people are called beautiful, for their looks & qualities. But none of us has ever wondered that what does the word beauty mean?

The general definition of beauty is the combination of qualities which give pleasure to the senses & exalts the mind & spirit. Most of us only consider half of this definition which says “Beauty is the combination of qualities which give pleasure to the senses” but we neglect the remaining part of the definition which is far more important which says “that gives pleasure to the senses & exalts the mind & spirit”. But we have confined the word beauty to the physical attributes only like color, shape, appearance, etc. In reality beauty is much more than just a physical attribute as the definition itself says “it is a combination of qualities.”

Different people have different definition of the word beautiful. Some people consider rain beautiful while some consider it irritating. Some people consider babies beautiful, but for others they are annoying & messy. Some people fall for the blue eyes while others are crazy for black ones. Each & every person has a different perspective & different choice when it comes to calling something or someone beautiful. Beauty has nothing to do with physical attributes, in fact beauty is completely related to attributes that satisfy our soul. Beauty is everlasting, it is not temporary & this is the only reason for which it is called beautiful because it is not going to end. If beauty was only related to physical appearance, then how it would be everlasting & if it is going to end or change then how it is beautiful? What is unique about being beautiful? As everything is temporary, it changes. Beauty has the tendency to remain permanent. Whatever makes us feel happy remains close to heart forever. Everything is temporary except soul & the good deeds that will remain forever. Temporary things which look beautiful are juts an illusion which deceive us for a certain time period & they will vanish as the poet  John Keats said; A thing of beauty is a joy forever: Its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness.”

Many people, especially girls feel like they are not beautiful. They consider themselves inferior on the basis of their complexion, weight, figure, dressing & many other material things & physical attributes. But the truth is that a person who has a caring heart & soul is a beautiful person. The person who cares for others, love others, help others, see good in others, who can feel other people’s pain & becomes the reason of someone’s smile is a beautiful person. If you prove yourself to be an umbrella for people who are in pain, no matter what colour you are, what race you belong to, what dress you wear, what language you speak… Trust me you are the most beautiful person of this world! Shout out to all those people who have been the reason of someone’s happiness, who have helped someone, who care for other people, who try to spread happiness. Such people are more than beautiful because you have “the heart who cares!”

“What you feel is what you are,
And what you are is beautiful.”

WOMEN ARE CRY BABIES!!

  • Yes.. but now you know why?!
    Men & women both exhibit a particular behavior. Women are believed to be crying often & easily whereas men seldom cry. This has always been a mystery & a topic of debate. Some South Asian advertisements with a campaign named, “Larkay rotay nahi” have tried to explain this behavior as an outcome of brought up. But neuroscience has addressed these distinct behaviors of men & women by answering, “Why women respond differently in emotions than men?”
    Brain studies have shown slight differences in most areas of brains pertaining to men & women. The differences explain their stereotypical behaviors. Men & women both experience negative emotions but expressions of those emotions are different in these physiologically different genders. If neural activity is compared among them, WOMEN REVAMP NEGATIVE FEELINGS TO POSITIVE ONES. HOWEVER, MEN REACTS BY GOING MUTE.
    Question arises, “How this justifies the fact, Women cry often when compared to men?” One study reports,”Women shed tears as much as 8 times more often than men. Also the duration of crying is 3 times longer when compared to men.” Endocrinological distinctions provide clear evidences to these varying behaviors. Women have higher levels of hormone called prolactin, located in pituitary gland & functions to produce tears. Men have higher levels of testosterone which limits tears production. Surprisingly, science does not take the complete credit of these distinct behaviors, social & cultural factors also tend to play their roles. Females brought up in pampered environment have actively playing prolactin responsible for delicacy in them. However, males brought up in Chauvinist – male dominant – environment tend to have fueled testosterones which result in over ruling in men. Hence, both genders must understand each others biological differences & then learn to treat nicely.
    Women can now get rid of the title, “You are a cry baby!” You are gifted with a stress releasing mechanism. Do not give up on your this lovely delicacy ladies.

FORCED MARRIAGE

When I was a kid, my only goal was to get a good education. I dreamed of attending Harvard or Stanford & planned to become a doctor one day. I was the eldest of 4 daughters in a Pakistani Muslim family. We lived in Ruwais, a small town in the United Arab Emirates, where my father worked in an oil plant & my mother was a teacher. At school, I always stood out among the girls in my class. I was brash, clever, outspoken. I took pride in acing every test. When I brought home top marks, my father would celebrate by handing out sweets.

One day, when I was in Grade 10, I was in my bedroom doing my math homework. My mother walked in. She told me I had received a marriage proposal. I laughed. “Mom, what are you talking about?” I asked. She didn’t crack a smile & I realized she was serious. “I’m only 16,” I said. 
“I am not ready for marriage.” She told me that I was lucky. The offer came from a nice man who lived in Canada. He was 28 years old & worked in IT. His sister was a friend of hers. The woman thought I would make a perfect match for her brother—I was very tall & he was 6″2. “They are going to look so great together in pictures,” she had said to my mother.

For weeks, I pleaded with my mom not to make me go through with it. I would sit at the foot of her bed, begging. She would tell me it was for my own good & that a future in Canada would give me opportunities I would not have here at home. She assured me that she had spoken to his family about my desire to continue my education. “You can go to school in Canada & we do not have to worry about you being alone,” she said. The next thing I knew, his parents were measuring my wrist for wedding bangles. The date was set for 5 months later, in July 1999.

My friends would talk about their own dream weddings—the gowns they would wear, how they planned to be dutiful wives & homemakers. When I told them about my doubts, they thought I was crazy, that I was a fool, that Allah would punish me for being ungrateful. Marriage was their ultimate goal in life. But I didn’t want it. I just didn’t know how to get away.


Samra Zafar at top centre, at age 7, shown with her father & 3 younger sisters at their home in the United Arab Emirates.

For the next few months, I had recurring nightmares about my impending marriage. In my dreams, I was trapped inside a house, watching from the window as students made their way along the sidewalk to school. I would wake up sweating & scared in the middle of the night. My mother would try to calm me down, telling me I was being hysterical. One night, when I woke up screaming, she decided to do something about it. She phoned my future husband in Canada & allowed me to speak to him for the first time. All I knew about him were those few details my mom had shared with me the night he proposed. When I picked up the phone, I was meek. I only had one question: “Will you let me go to school?” He reassured me: “Yeah, yeah, I’ll let you go to school. Don’t worry.”

The first time I saw him was on July 22, 1999, the day before the wedding, at his family’s home in Karachi. As we sat sipping tea, I snuck furtive glances at the man who was going to be my husband. I felt dwarfed by him.



Samra Zafar was just 16 when she learned she would be marrying a 28 years old IT worker in Canada.

The next day, we were at my grandfather’s house for the wedding. As my mother adjusted my gown, I pulled back. I told her I wanted to run away. “Don’t be silly,” she said. “All the guests are here.” Someone put the marriage licence in front of me, I was told to sign it & I did. Later we held a celebration at a high-end restaurant in the city. Strings of lights & red ribbons decorated the room & 200 of our parents’ friends came. There were piles of food & everybody laughed, sang & danced long into the night. I wore a long red lehenga sari. I was told to sit there quietly & look down at my hands, playing the demure bride.

This was the first of 2 ceremonies—we had to make it official so that my husband could apply for my sponsorship in Canada. The second ceremony was still months away, as was my wedding night. In the meantime, I continued to live with my parents & attend school. My new husband stayed in Pakistan for a month. We saw each other a few times, but never for long & usually with others around. One evening, we went to Pizza Hut with his older brother & his brother’s wife. It was my first date & I was so shy 
I barely spoke. We talked regularly online, over MSN Messenger & occasionally on the phone. Slowly, I grew more comfortable with the marriage. Nothing about him struck me as special. He was not smart or funny or warm, but he was a normal enough guy. He told me how pleased he was that his wife was so smart. He suggested university programs I should consider in Canada. He agreed to wait to have kids until I finished school. He said all the right things.


Samra Zafar on her wedding day at age 17.

When my immigration papers came through in August 2000, we both flew to Abu Dhabi for our second, smaller celebration. After it was over, we slept together for the first time. I was petrified. I knew nothing about sex or birth control & neither did he. My aunt had told me about ovulation, explaining that I could not get pregnant if I had sex on certain days of the month. I thought our wedding night was one of those days. I had never even seen a condom before.

Later that week, we flew to Canada and I moved into his two-bedroom condo in Mississauga. I missed my parents, my friends, my school. I was so unhappy that I stopped eating & I spent most of my days watching TV while my husband was at work. I stopped getting my period right away. At first, I thought it was because of the move, the abrupt change in environment. But a month passed, then another. I was getting sick every morning. My nausea was so severe that I was afraid to go outside in case I fainted. Finally I told my husband that I needed to see a doctor. I sat in the doctor’s office, listening to him ask me if I understood what being pregnant meant. All I knew was that it meant I could not go to school. This can’t be happening, I thought. This isn’t happening. I was only 17.

During the first few months of my pregnancy, my husband was kind & thoughtful. He took late-night trips to the grocery store to satisfy my cravings. He would call a couple of times a day from work to ask how I was feeling & every night we cooked dinner together. I discovered an adult learning center near our condo & enrolled in an ESL course. I thought our marriage was going well. Then, 2 months before our daughter was born, he told me his parents would be moving to Canada & staying with us. He had planned for them to live with us all along, but this was the first I had heard of it. We moved out of the master bedroom into the smaller one so his parents would be more comfortable.

Everything changed when they arrived. My husband & I stopped spending time alone together. His mother got upset when he paid attention to me, so he did not show me any affection. When I would ask if I could call my parents in Ruwais, he or his mother would tell me we could not afford international calls.

In May 2001, I gave birth to our daughter. When we returned from the hospital, my husband slept on the couch while I stayed with the baby in the second bedroom. I had never felt so alone. I fantasized about stealing money from my husband’s wallet & taking a cab to the airport, calling my parents & asking them to buy me a plane ticket home. But I did not want to leave my daughter behind.

When she was a few months old, we bought a 4 bedroom house in Streetsville with his parents. I was rarely allowed to leave. I never had a penny to my name. My mother-in-law gave me her cast-off clothing to wear. I did not have a cellphone. I was not allowed to go to the grocery store on my own. If I did not iron my husband’s shirts or make his lunch or finish my chores, he & my in-laws told me that I was a bad wife who could not keep my family happy. I walked on eggshells all the time. If I asked my husband something, he would reply, “Bitch, get out of here.”

2 years in, the abuse got physical. He would grab my wrist & shove me around. I would be sitting on the couch & he would slap me upside the head, or grab me so hard on my upper arms that my skin would bruise. Once he tossed a glass of water in my face; I slipped on the floor & threw out my back. Another time he punched a hole in the wall next to my head & told me, “Next time, it’s going to be you!” On several occasions, he picked up a knife & said he was going to kill me & then himself.

I was having suicidal thoughts all the time. I was convinced my life was over. One time, I took a razor blade into the shower & thought about cutting myself, stopping only when I heard my baby cry. I believed my unhappiness was my fault—that the secret to perfect wife-hood was eluding me. 
If I had just done the dishes better, been quieter, anticipated that he wanted a cup of coffee or a glass of water, then none of this would have happened.

When my daughter turned 3, I learned about a parent drop-in center called Ontario Early Years, funded by the Ministry of Education. Located in a Streetsville strip mall, the space was bright & cheerful. My daughter would make crafts or play with Play-Doh & the parents would gather in a song circle with their children & recite nursery rhymes. My husband took my daughter & me there a couple of times. Eventually, he let me walk over on my own. I looked forward to those 2 afternoons a week, when I would be allowed to step outside by myself without fear, when I would feel fresh air on my face.

The woman who ran the center was Pakistani & she recognized some of the signs of abuse even before I knew what to call it. She saw how jittery I would get if the sessions were running long, or how I would have to ask permission from my husband if there were any changes to the schedule. She let me use the phone to call my parents. I tearfully told my father what was happening, that I felt imprisoned & helpless. He was horrified, but advised me to wait until I got my Canadian citizenship. “That way you would not risk losing your daughter,” he said. So I waited another year. Throughout this period, I resumed my education, taking high school courses by correspondence. I applied to university several times. I was always accepted, but my husband would never pay the tuition.

In 2005, I told my husband that I wanted to go home to visit my family for 4 months. It had been 5 years since I had last seen them. When he told me he did not have the money, my father sent plane tickets for me & my daughter, who was 4 by then. On my way to the airport, I asked my husband for $10 to buy myself a coffee & my daughter a snack. “Bitch, go ask your father for that too,” he told me, as he dropped me off at Pearson. When my parents picked me up at the airport, they almost did not recognize me. I had lost so much weight I looked skeletal.

My family were shocked. The bright, confident girl they knew had been replaced with a skittish, scared young woman. It took a couple of months for me to realize I could go to the mall on my own, or to the grocery store. These were small triumphs, but they helped build up my confidence. By the end of my visit, I was resolved not to go back to Canada. As soon as I delivered the news to my husband over the phone, he unleashed a flood of apologies. He told me he would never hurt me again. He promised we would move out of the house, that we would live alone together like we used to.

He wore me down. In August 2005, I returned to Canada. We moved into a new apartment & my husband was paying both his parents’ mortgage & our rent, leaving little money for anything else. 
At first, he was kind again. But within a few months, I got pregnant with our second daughter, & the abuse resumed. I needed an escape plan, so I began tutoring & babysitting children in our apartment building, slowly saving money for 5 months until I had enough for my daughter & me to fly to Karachi, where my sister was getting married. This time I was not coming back.

My father had been diagnosed with kidney failure before I had arrived in December & over the next few months I watched helplessly as his condition deteriorated. One day, I sat with him in the ICU. “Papa, if something happens to you, what am I going to do?” I asked him. “Realize the strength you have inside of you,” he told me. “Go back to Canada & find a way to get out of your marriage.” He died 2 days later. My husband arrived in Karachi that week for the funeral. Sex was the first thing he wanted. It was not until he had finished that he asked me how I was feeling. I said I was fine, got up & walked to the bathroom. I turned on the shower so he would not hear me cry.

When I asked my mother what to do, she told me I should go back with him. After all, she had 2 more daughters to marry off, she said & she did not have the money to support me. I could not work. I had no education or experience & I was pregnant. Resigned & defeated, I went back with him. While I had been away, he had moved back into his parents’ house. This time I got a small room in the basement, with bare walls & a little window in the corner. My daughter slept in her crib in the room next door. In June 2006, I gave birth to my second daughter. I was miserable.

And yet my father’s words had ignited something in me. I knew I was smart & I knew the only way out was through school. I studied in my room every night, finishing the last course I needed for my GED, a Grade 13 economics credit. A few months after my younger daughter was born, I earned my diploma & decided to apply to university again. I knew my husband would never let me leave the house to earn money for tuition, so I resurrected my babysitting service, telling him I was earning money for the family. I co-opted my mother-in-law with the promise that she would earn easy money taking care of kids & my husband even let me buy a van to drive my charges around. I was making between $2,000 & $3,000 every month & though I had to turn over my earnings to my husband, I managed to sock away a few hundred dollars here & there. It took me 2 years to save enough for 1 year of school.

In 2008, I applied to U of T’s economics program. I was accepted. Nothing was going to stop me from going. “Who’s going to pay for your tuition?” my husband asked. “I am,” I responded. My in-laws were so angry about my decision that no one in the house spoke to me for 6 months. I did not care. This was my chance to get out. It had taken me nearly 10 years, but I had gone from victim to survivor.

My first day of school in September 2008 was one of the best of my life. I got to school 15 minutes before my class started & walked through the Kaneff Centre at U of T Mississauga. After everything I had been through, I had finally achieved my dream. I sat in the hall, tears running down my cheeks. If only my father could have seen this, I thought to myself.

I thrived in my new environment. I aced every class & other students gravitated toward me, asking to study or socialize. My success changed my thinking. If I was the scum on the bottom of my husband’s shoe, like I had been told all these years, why were my marks so high? Why did classmates want to be my friend? I could feel vestiges of confidence I had not had in years. One day in October I was walking to the campus bookstore to buy textbooks. Just around the corner, outside the health & counselling center, a flyer on a bulletin board caught my eye. On it was a list of questions. “Do you feel intimidated? Do you feel like you do not have a voice? Do you feel like you have lost your identity?” As my eyes ran quickly down the list, my brain screamed over & over again: yes, yes, yes. “Come in & make an appointment,” the poster read. I opened the door & walked inside.

few days later, I sat across from a counselor, describing what was going on at home. “I don’t know what to do,” I told her. “I am trying to keep my husband happy & I am still not good enough. He keeps telling me I am worthless. All I want to do is fix it.” She grabbed my hand. “It’s not your fault,” she said. It was the first time anyone had said that to me. As I continued my counselling, I realized that what had happened to me was wrong. My agency had been stripped away. I learned about the cycle of abuse that characterizes so many unhealthy relationships.

Our marriage was becoming more toxic every day. He once bought me a cellphone as a present, but installed spyware on it so he could monitor my calls. He kicked me in the stomach. He kept threatening to kill me. A year after I started counselling, I told him I wanted a divorce. “What are you talking about?” he asked me. “I love you. I can not live without you.”

One January night in 2011, he picked a fight. I was not doing enough housework, he said. As he loomed over me, tightening his fist, I picked up my phone. “If you touch me, I am going to call 911,” I shouted & then he spat out the word divorce, in Urdu, 3 times: talaq, talaq, talaq. According to some Islamic scholars, uttering those words means the marriage is over.

I thought I would be thrilled when he left, but I was terrified. I had never lived on my own & I was bracing myself for the shame I believed I would bring to my family. He sold our house out from under me, leaving me & the kids with 3 weeks to pack up. We had nowhere to go. I even registered at a couple of shelters, expecting to be homeless. One day, I was at the U of T tuition office & a woman overheard me lamenting my situation. She suggested I look into campus housing; luckily, the university had one family unit left. 2 days later, I had the keys to my very own shabby 3 bedroom townhouse.

I could not afford movers. I packed all my belongings into garbage bags & made 10 trips back & forth every day for 5 days, in the van I used to drive the kids who attended my home daycare. I used my last $100 to pay a couple of students to help me move my furniture. I was relieved not to be out on the streets. I slept in 1 room with my youngest daughter. My eldest had the second bedroom, with enough space just for a single bed. I rented out the third room to a Pakistani student who watched my girls while I worked in the evenings. It was tiny, but it was ours. That year, I juggled 5 jobs to stay afloat. I worked as a TA, a researcher with the City of Mississauga & a student mentor. I did night shifts at the student information center on campus. I even ran a small catering business out of my apartment.

One day it dawned on me that my husband was a man willing to put his own kids out on the street to teach me a lesson. I drove to the police station & reported everything. I gave a 3 hour long videotaped statement, offering as much detail as I could about the decade of abuse I had endured. The officer said he likely would not be able to lay charges because there were not any bruises on my body. But it did not matter. Just telling the authorities was a huge relief. It was my way of acknowledging everything to myself, of finally saying, it was not my fault—none of it was my fault.

The officers interviewed my doctor & counselors, and 2 days later they arrested my husband for assault. He pleaded guilty. We finalized our divorce & he got joint custody. My older daughter refused to see him, but my younger daughter visited him every other week.

There were many times over the next year that I thought I had made a mistake, that I could not do it on my own. I thought the shame would never go away. After my marriage ended, none of my old friends would speak to me. My mother refused to tell people back home. I had no family in Canada, no friends at school who knew what was going on. I was completely isolated. I had always been told that women are responsible for upholding the family’s honour. A woman living alone is a sin. A woman travelling alone is a sin. When everybody around you says you are in the wrong, that your dreams are not valid, you start to believe that & there were many times that I would fall into those sinkholes.


Samra Zafar graduated from U of T at the top of her class.

Education was my only refuge from my dark thoughts. I focused all my energy on school. In my fourth year, I was promoted to head TA. 
I worked as a senior mentor for the school’s first-year transition program. I carried an 8 course load & earned a 3.99 GPA. One day, I got an email from my department advisor. In it was a description of the university’s highest honour, the John H. Moss Scholarship, a $16,000 award that’s given to an outstanding student who intends to pursue graduate work—the Rhodes scholarship of U of T. My advisor encouraged me to apply. No one from U of T Mississauga campus had ever won it, she said. The deadline was only a few days away, but she convinced me to hustle up the paperwork.

A few weeks later, I got an email saying that I was one of five finalists. I arrived for my interview on February 6, 2013. The committee ran through questions about my academic record and leadership experience. I had written about my abusive marriage in my application, too & at the end of the interview, the panel asked me how I go on after everything I have been through. My polish wore off in that moment. “Every day I feel like giving up,” I told them. “But I don’t want my daughters to grow up thinking that being abused is normal.”

45 minutes after my interview concluded, I got a phone call. John Rothschild, chair of the selection committee & the CEO of Prime Restaurants, was on the other end of the line with a few other panelists. “Congratulations,” they said. “You are our winner this year.” I could not believe it. I grabbed my daughters’ hands & danced wildly around the house with them. I wanted to tell the whole world. Since then, John has become a friend, a mentor & the closest thing I have to a father figure. He taught me how to believe in myself again. He says if I ever get married again, he wants to walk me down the aisle.


Businessman John Rothschild funded her NPO for abused women.

In September of that year, I started my master’s in economics. By the time I graduated, I was surviving off OSAP & my debt load was piling up. I wanted to stop borrowing money as soon as possible, so I decided not to pursue a PhD. Instead, I accepted a job at the Royal Bank of Canada, where I work today as a commercial account manager.

Around the time of my graduation, I was named the top economics student at U of T. At the award ceremony, a journalist introduced herself to me (her daughter was in my class). I told her my story & she published an article about it in a Pakistan newspaper. As my story circulated through the community, I received hundreds of messages from women all over the world trapped in forced marriages & looking for help. So many of them sounded like me 5 years earlier, isolated & helpless. Women who show up at shelters or call assault hotlines or leave their homes find themselves completely alone. Without any help, they return to their abusers or fall into new relationships that are just as bad. Once, while I was TA-ing at U of T, a father barged into my office yelling. “You are pushing my daughter to get her master’s degree!” I could not believe it. To me, it was natural to offer encouragement—his daughter was the top student in my class. “She’s supposed to marry a boy in Egypt. Stop poisoning her with your Canadian bullshit,” he barked.

Years ago, a woman wrote to me asking if we could talk on Skype. She was a Canadian university graduate whose parents forced her into a marriage in Pakistan after she finished school. Brutally abused for 3 years, she returned to Canada to have her baby. She wanted to leave her marriage. After we finished talking, I drove to her house & encouraged her to do it. “No one will ever love me again,” she said. 3 years later, she graduated from a master’s program & got a job working full-time in Toronto. I realized I could not stop abuse from happening. But I could offer friendship to women in similar positions to my own. I started a non-profit called Brave Beginnings that will help women rebuild their lives after escaping abusive relationships. John Rothschild, my mentor, provided our start-up funding, and we are piloting the project this year.


Samra Zafar lives with her 2 daughters, age 15 & 10, in a condo in Mississauga.

For the past 3 years, I have lived in a 3 bedroom condo in Mississauga with my 2 daughters, who are now 15 & 10. I serve as an alumni governor at the University of Toronto & I speak about my experience for organizations like Amnesty International. I m happier than I ever imagined I could be. I want women to know that they deserve a life of respect, dignity & freedom, that it Is never too late to speak up. It infuriates me that many women are expected to uphold their family’s honour, yet they do not have any themselves.

Last April, I called my ex. I wanted to help him repair his relationship with our older daughter. It had been 4 years since we had spoken in person. I decided to meet with him. Despite everything, I believed that my girls deserved to have their father in their lives. I sat in a coffee shop at Eglinton & Creditview Road, desperately hoping that I was no longer scared of him.

I saw him walking across the parking lot & waited for an avalanche of fear to hit me. It never came. Sitting across from me, he was just another person. To my surprise, he apologized. “I cannot believe after everything that you are still willing to help me repair my relationship with our kids,” he said. That day in the coffee shop, I finally felt free.

A few weeks ago, I lay in bed cuddling with my youngest daughter. Every night, we snuggle for 10 minutes before she goes to bed, just the 2 of us, unpacking the day. Out of the blue, she said, “Mom, I think Daddy’s family picked you because you were only 16. They thought you were just going to do whatever they told you to do & they would be able to make you into whoever they wanted you to be.” And then she paused. “Man,” she said. “They picked the wrong girl.”

 

Copied from Toronto Life.

 

LETTER TO THE QUEENS

She was walking on a pedestrian path. She called out for me. I was buying ice cream for her. She screamed & I at once returned to her. I saw her on the ground. She has fell on the ground & got her elbow hurt. She was dusting herself up & had tears in her eyes. I told her, “It’s okay Sweetheart, you’re my Queen, Queens don’t get hurt, they’re strong.”

She gazed towards me with enrage in her eyes & said, “Don’t you call me Queen next time!” I was puzzled & dazzled by her reaction. Girls at her age normally love such titles. She dusted herself & stood up refusing to take my hand. I had a crippling in my heart & was confused on her response to my help. I interjected, “Sweetheart, have I offended you? Are you off because you fell & I wasn’t there to reach out to you?”. She took my hand, kissed it & said, “Never, I can never be offended by such a silly thing, I’m offended because you called me Queen.” First, I sighed & then I laughed. I asked, “Why? Is being called Queen a matter of shame? Or is there something wrong with the word? Normally girls love to be called Queen, especially at your age.” She started walking on the pedestrian path, with her ice cream in her mouth & replied with a spark in her eyes, “Do you know what is the real function of Queen?” I paused & stopped walking, I knew what she was saying, I knew what she meant. She narrowed her eyes & insisted upon her question, this time stressing the words the real function of Queens. I replied, “Yes, I know, I have also watched Queen Bee movie, I know their real function is just to lay eggs.” Something pinched me in the heart, a girl so young of age 15 has revealed a secret upon me, FUNCTION OF QUEEN! WOMEN! QUEEN!

“So, now you won’t call me Queen next time, okay?”, she said & I agreed. Since that day I never called her Queen, but that question left me in a dilemma, so many days, so many years, since eras, women are calling themselves Queens without knowing the real function of Queen. Queens are to lay eggs, just lay eggs?? Just to marry & prepare a generation? Really?. She left me in a great tyranny. I couldn’t stand the exclamatory meaning of Queen, I didn’t know why she hated it, Queens are treated like a lady of code. They are treated highly, queen bees, they are treated like a majesty, is it a matter of shame? No! How can such a wonderful act become a matter of shame? Then what makes a Queen? Is it just to lay eggs? No! It is to take responsibility of an entire nation & delivering it with ultimate sense as a Queen Bee does. To be Queen is a responsibility by nature no one can escape. I thought, “To hate the word at her age was okay, I didn’t mind it. She must have given the similar response as she did, she must concentrate on becoming the Woman of Value.” I was still thinking when my phone rang, it was her on call, I received the phone, it was so much noise on the other side, she shouted in excitement, “You know, you know… I got scholarship, I’m so happy, I’m coming home to you, you’re my Queen, I’m just coming, I’m on my way.” And she hung up. My heart went warm & tears rolled over my cheeks, she just called me Queen, she knew what she meant, I’m successful to raise her, she knew what a Queen means & whom it suits. I was happy & relieved she knows the importance of things. I was very happy.

100 AFFIRMATIONS FOR WOMEN

                Recently a lady posted in a group that I am a member of, on social media about some negative thoughts & suspicions hitting her mind repeatedly & she was quite concerned about it. That post made me think that our thoughts are an important part of our inner wisdom. When we hold a thought long enough & repeat it often whether intentionally or unintentionally, it becomes a belief & we see those thoughts coming true. Basically, your life stems from your thoughts & you are what you think!

                It is said that affirmations strengthen us by helping us believe in the potential of an action we desire to manifest. When we verbally affirm positive thoughts, we are instantly empowered with a deep sense of reassurance that our words will become reality. Affirmations are proven methods of self-improvement because of their ability to rewire our brains. Just like exercise, they raise the level of feel-good hormones & push our brains to form new clusters of “positive thoughts.”

Here are some positive affirmations for women.

  1. I enjoy being a woman.
  2. I feel safe & protected.
  3. I am a strong woman.
  4. I am gentle with myself.
  5. I am whole & complete.
  6. It’s okay to be a powerful woman.
  7. I am the architect of my life, I build its foundations & choose its contents.
  8. I can handle anything that comes into my life.
  9. I deserve to be respected.
  10. I deserve to be loved.
  11. I am beautiful.
  12. I am at peace in my body.
  13. I transmit harmony to everyone I come in contact with.
  14. I choose to experience kindness & compassion.
  15. I spread health, wealth, love & happiness where ever I go.
  16. I forgive fully & let go of the past.
  17. I deserve to pamper myself & nurture my desires.
  18. The love in my life begins with me.
  19. The more I love myself, the more I will experience from others.
  20. I love myself for all that I am.
  21. I am always growing & learning.
  22. I always find time to be creative.
  23. I am a kind, generous & spiritual woman.
  24. I am happy, healthy & complete.
  25. I am attractive.
  26. I am intelligent.
  27. I attract good into my life.
  28. I am open to change, I embrace it.
  29. I am discovering how amazing I am.
  30. I am wise & always honest.
  31. I choose to love myself.
  32. I am in charge of my life.
  33. My life is filled with love.
  34. I have a great life!
  35. I am a powerful woman.
  36. I am comfortable with myself.
  37. I feel comfortable in my skin.
  38. I dress up for myself.
  39. I am worthy of love & respect.
  40. I am willing to learn new ways of living.
  41. I deserve a loving, respecting & supportive partner.
  42. I am filled with positive energy.
  43. I share my feelings easily.
  44. I laugh often & express gratitude for all the blessings in my life.
  45. I am deeply filled with my life.
  46. I love being woman.
  47. I accept my gift of lone time.
  48. I am a competent woman, I believe in myself & express myself easily.
  49. I am independently, healthy, wealthy & wise.
  50. I deserve rest in quite when I need it. I am at peace with my solitude.
  51. Everything I need to know is revealed to me. I am open to receiving this information.
  52. I am always safe, divinely protected & guided.
  53. I am blessed!
  54. Everything I need comes to me easily when I need it.
  55. I have healthy, loving relationships in my life.
  56. I love everything in my life. Including my mind, my body & all of my feelings.
  57. I give & receive love fully & freely.
  58. I am attracting loving & satisfying relationships in my life.
  59. I am doing work I love. I am rewarded financially & creatively.
  60. Abundance is my natural state of being, I accept it now.
  61. Love is coming to me easily & effortlessly.
  62. I now have loving & satisfying relationships in my life.
  63. I am expressing myself creatively & successfully.
  64. Financial abundance is now coming to be easily & effortlessly.
  65. I am experiencing miracles in my life.
  66. I choose today to materialize my dreams.
  67. I am able to change negative thoughts into positive thoughts.
  68. I am in charge of my thoughts & my present feelings.
  69. I am filled my clarity & know my purpose.
  70. I pursue my life’s purpose with passion & enthusiasm.
  71. I forgive those who have harmed me, intentionally or unintentionally.
  72. I forgive people, I may believe have acted wrongly.
  73. I lovingly let go off judgements that are holding me back from enjoying life to its fullest.
  74. I am my own woman, balanced & whole.
  75. I am naturally feminine & graceful.
  76. I am womanly in my presence, caring in my attitude & loving in my personality.
  77. I am a successful woman.
  78. I work hard to further my career.
  79. I am a woman of love.
  80. I am a loving & caring woman.
  81. I spread joy on every step I take on my journey.
  82. I am the best friend that anyone can have.
  83. I am lucky to have so many friends.
  84. I value my friendships.
  85. I love & respect my family.
  86. All my relationships are long lasting & loving.
  87. My family is the centre of my universe.
  88. I am always patient, understanding & forgiving.
  89. I family loves me for who I am, unconditionally.
  90. I have a wonderful sense of humour.
  91. I enjoy laughing.
  92. I am grateful for my healthy body.
  93. Every day & in every way I am getting healthier & wealthier.
  94. I am assertive & at the same time considerate about others.
  95. I a proud & happy to be a woman.
  96. I am the queen of my home.
  97. I am a spiritual being.
  98. All my dreams are destined to come true.
  99. I am the most beautiful thing that has ever happened.
  100. The life I am living is the choice of millions!

 

THE GRACE OF DELICACY


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A woman is the most vulnerable yet the strongest element of our society. She is fragile physically, yet stronger than a man. Unfortunately, women are taught to stay dependent on a man for everything, since early age. The idea of staying dependent is not bad, nor are we against it. Agreed, a woman is precious, she should be taken care of. But the idea of being dependent on a man is so strongly fed in minds of the girls that they never grow up to become a person they really want to be & this ends up suppressing all the good qualities. Girls grow up to become woman with a feeling of being inferior.

            Not only this, but boys grow up to be men with the same mind set. They marry a female with the thought that they are doing a favor to her, by marrying her. But let’s think about this…  A woman changes her name, changes her home, leaves her family, moves in with you, builds a home with you, gets pregnant for you, bears children for you. Pregnancy destroys her body. She gets fat. Almost give up in the labor room due to the pain. Even the kids she delivers bear your name. Till the day she dies, everything she does benefits you, so who is really doing a favor?

            While a man stays in the same home, lives with his parents. Though a woman marries the man but takes care of all his family, which is not an obligation, but she still does it. She bears the anger, bad behavior, live in all conditions with you, always stays & dedicates her existence for you.

“Woman is a delicate creature with strong emotions, who has been created by the Almighty God to shoulder responsibility for educating society & moving towards perfection. God created woman as a symbol of His own beauty & to give solace to her partner & her family.”
– Imam Ali (A.S)

            A woman plays several roles in her life time. A daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, a home maker, a care taker & a lot more. A woman easily adapts to any role that is required. It is said that whatever you give a woman, she is going to multiply it. If you give her a smile, she will give you her heart. If you give her give her house, she will give you a home. If you give her groceries, she will give you a meal. If you give her sperm, she will give you a baby. She multiplies & enlarges what is given to her.

            As a mother a woman bears up to 57 Del (unit) of pain, which is similar to 20 bones getting fractured at a time, whereas a human body can bear up to 45 Del of pain. As a daughter she is an advantage, as a sister she is the care taker & respect, as a wife she is a soulmate & partner, as a mother she is a paradise. A woman has major roles to play, without which life is tasteless.

            Basically, it is a cycle, a role that is passed on… So try to be a better player of your life & a role model for your children. It is the law of nature, whatever you do comes back to you in the same or some other shape. So be careful when dealing with women!

“If the eyes of a female cry over a man that oppressed her, the angles will curse him with every step he walks.”
– Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (A.S)

THE VAMPIRE LADY

“Her soul was too deep to explore by those who always swam in the shallow end.”

            It is said that women are the most beautiful creatures of this world. And these beautiful creatures are often seen beautifying themselves even more. But what if they are seen modifying themselves in unconventional ways?

This reminded me of a sentence I read somewhere; “We are all stories in the end!”

            The only difference is, some of us remain unheard, unseen & unknown for life. While few of us decide to be the story’s hero & end up being known for the attempt of surviving through the odds!

            The Vampire Lady is one such lady who decided to be her own hero. Maria Jose Cristerna Mendez is a Mexican lady who is famous for the most tattoos & body modifications. She holds the Guinness World Record for female with the most tattoos & body modifications. She has 49 body modifications which almost covers more than 90% of her body with tattoos, ink, piercings & titanium horns & fangs implants. Maria is a 36 years old, former lawyer, mother of 4 children, belonging from a Christian Catholic family, currently a professional video jockey, also a lecturer in women’s support group, awareness raiser, speaker & helper against domestic violence.


Before & After
Before & After

            The question arises, why would a woman modify or recreate herself like that? There must be something that must be going on in her mind, something that made her to be like that. People know her for her terrifying looks that are associated with a devil or vampire. But few people know what made her like that… An abusive & drug addict life partner!

            Maria lived for 10 years with an abusive & drug addicted husband until she found the courage to take their 4 children & leave him. The 10 years or living with a mentally & physically abusing person changed her internally & her perspective for self & the world. Dwelling in a society which is known for strong gang culture & different sorts of abuse on women, she spent a long time period with a spouse who was abusive & violent, felt helpless but finally build courage to help herself & others going through the same situation.  According to her, the piercing & tattoos is a way of expressing herself which symbolizes the 10 years of suffering & a different way of recovering from the trauma of abuse.

             In spite of her looks, even today she says that she is a traditional woman like the other who look after her family. Currently she is married to another man namely David who has accepted her the way she is. They have been living together for 10 years together now. He has also helped Maria in opening & managing the tattoo parlour & a boutique offering Goth clothing & accessories. Maria is now spending a normal life just like other woman. She cooks, takes care of her family & does whatever she likes.

            Women belonging from any race, society or culture is directly or indirectly affected by their husband’s behaviour. This is not only seen in the Asian culture where women are considered to be more dependent on their spouse, but almost in every race, religion, culture, etc. Marriage is a sacred relation which bonds two different people in beautiful threads of respect, love, care & trust. If it is mishandled things fall apart, either of the partner or both maybe adversely effected by it. It was a man who changed her perspective for her own self, life & the world around her. It is a man who is supporting her in recovering from the trauma, apart from her own will power. It takes a real man to realize that he made a mistake but an even better one to try to make things right.  But most importantly for a woman her entire life can change. The society ends up judging & pointing out the woman which makes it even harder for a woman to move on. This is just one story that is bought forward, but there millions of real life stories where women have been living in abusive relationships. But there are few people who choose to be their own hero. But the fact is that every tragic incident or even a moment of suffering leaves a huge impact on the person. This is more prominently seen in case of women. Maria Jose Christine is just one example. There are many unheard & unseen examples that we do not know about. And we should be respecting the people who fight for themselves in spite of all odds without judging them, especially in case of women.

“I like stories where women save themselves!”

IF MEN IN BLACK THEN WOMEN IN WHITE – REFLECTIONS

Myths are a certain type of stories that are made by people to believe into while it is also passed over generations. One such myth has always been that, “A woman is the reflection of her man.” If the statement stands to be true then all man should be black & all women should be white, as black is the color that absorbs every beam of light while white reflects them all. Keeping this in mind that whatever a man absorbs or precisely what a man possesses in himself turns out to be the reflection shown in the woman he aligns or accompanies with. If that is true, then all women must be Godesses. If man are regarded as “Majazi Khuda” in our society.

            Since the advent of the concept about man & woman as separate entities has prevailed. It has become difficult to decide as to whether who is who & what is what. The blame game of both the genders has created a havoc of disharmony in the world. None out of both is willing to admit & give away a certain service demanded by one to the other. Each one is so busy in asking & demanding that the hands of giving are in scarcity while the mouths to ask are in surplus. This situation clearly creates a condition which Gandhi defined as, “An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.” A woman by the myth mentioned above appears to be the reflection of what a man absorbs in his personality. An arabic proverb says, “When a women is loved correctly she becomes ten times the women she was before.” It is near to impossible for a woman to be loved correctly in a surplus of women in the world by the number of 4.2 billion when men are only 3.3 billion.

            It is said, “Ignorance is the key to all success” which means both men & women have to learn the art of ignorance only by which the world will know peace & harmony.

            Sri Chimnoy has rightly said; “Unless & until we have peace deep within us, we can never hope to have peace in the outer world. You & I create the world by the vibrations that we offer to it. If we can invoke peace & then offer it to somebody else, we will see how peace expands from one to two persons & gradually to the world at large. Peace will come about in the world from the perfection of individuals. If you have peace, I have peace, he has peace & she has peace, then automatically universal peace will dawn.”

            World is the balance of woman & man in the world. Without both of them world cannot survive gracefully. Both man & woman should respect their differences & must give breathing space to eachother in order to grow. Both woman & man are reflections of each other, both interchange their places of role performance when necessary hence both must appreciate & admit each other’s importance & grow with the maturity of mutual respect because children are their prism & mirror who follow in their footsteps.

“The woman is the reflection of her man.
If you love her to the point of madness, she will become it.”
– Brad Pitt