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Another Season of Taboo Talk on Tap for Pakistani Women

Kickstarter campaign saves digital talk show
By Luke Roney,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 26, 2020 1:00 PM CST

(Newser) – Kanwal Ahmed has given women in Pakistan a forum to talk about topics that are considered taboo in that religiously and socially conservative country. And thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign, she’ll have the opportunity to keep doing it. In just a week, she raised more than $30,000 to fund a new season of her digital talk show Conversations with Kanwal, the Guardian reports, calling Ahmed “Pakistan’s Kickstarter Oprah.” Ahmed tells Pakistan Today: “The topics I want to talk about aren’t traditional topics widely discussed in the media. Things like domestic violence, online harassment, colorism—all of these topics are number one presented in a very different light because domestic violence, for example, is normalized on Pakistani media—you see women being slapped on the screens all the time. And women being presented in very dehumanizing roles.”

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Conversations grew out of a women’s forum called Soul Sisters Pakistan that Ahmed started seven years ago. She came up with the idea for the forum while working as a wedding make-up artist when she would end up giving advice to young brides, per the Guardian. Since then, the forum has become a “lifeline” for its members. “Many women don’t have anywhere to get information about sex and relationships and for many, their first experience of both may be on their wedding night,” Ahmed tells the paper. “It’s considered an act of shame to talk about something as intimate as sex." The first season of Conversations was funded by a grant from Facebook, per Pakistan Today, and the second was funded by advertisers. The pandemic-induced financial pinch led to the Kickstarter campaign—a “remarkable achievement,” the Guardian notes, since most of Ahmed’s fans are Pakistani women who are financially dependent on their spouses. (Read more Pakistan stories.)

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