A three-day comic workshop on tolerance came to an end on Friday as participants drew black and white strips, narrating their stories and highlighting certain issues.
Around 28 people, some hailing from rural Sindh, participated in the event organised by the World Comics Network-Pakistan in collaboration with the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP).
Pointing towards her comic titled ‘Ihtaram’, a young woman Shanti narrated a story on how a student refused to be taught by her upon finding out that that she belonged to the Hindu community.
“We face such problems on a frequent basis where people socially boycott us when they come to know that we are from one of the minorities.” Her comic strip portrayed her story and presented a picture in which the student raised objections.
Another participant, Emanual, a Christian hailing from Mirpurkhas, gave the message that all human beings should be treated equally, irrespective of their religious beliefs. He has organised workshops in his hometown. As a result, comics are now pinned up in many areas of his locality.
“Children who are afraid of their parents or wives who fear their husbands are able to express their feelings through drawing. Even those who are illiterate are able to draw their untold stories on issues that concern them.”
A teacher named Geeta feels that such workshops allow people to release their bottled-up emotions. “Through these cartoons, we are able to express our feelings more easily. Also, by drawing, we are able to raise issues much more effectively than by talking about them.”
Shumaila’s comic strip depicting two hands promoted friendship between Pakistan and India. Other strips concentrated on the importance of education as well as ethnic violence. Nida Shams, head of the World Comics Network-Pakistan explained that the aim of the workshop was to spread tolerance amongst all communities in these times of rampant extremism.
“We are using cartoons as a social media and want to raise peoples’ voices on religious discrimination, gender biasness, civil issues and ethnic violence. Some of the topics are very bold and people use these caricatures to tell express their feelings.”
Shams added that a book on this theme would soon be compiled and published very soon. In addition to this, school children would also be encouraged to use cartoons as a tool to raise their voice.