NPR Celebrates Pakistani Lesbians -- Courtesy of CPB and the NEA

On Monday's Morning Edition, National Public Radio offered the latest entry in its year-long series "The Hidden World of Girls," which is subsidized by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Arts. Naturally, any series with this title might disappoint if it didn't explore lesbians in Islamic countries, in this case, Pakistan.

Apparently, though, the definition of "girls" is quite flexible. On the October 16 All Things Considered, NPR celebrated the journey of Adam "Theresa" Sparks, running to be the first transgender member of the San Francisco City Council. 

For this story, reporter Habiba Nosheen told listeners that the names of the lesbians had been changed to protect them:

NOSHEEN: Shortly after, just like her ex-girlfriend, Fatima married a man in an attempt to conform. But two months into her marriage, she met another woman, Karin, and the two fell in love. Recently, I met up with Fatima again. [To Fatima:] How's it going?

FATIMA: Good. How's it going with you? Hello. Why don't you come up, have a cup of tea or something?

NOSHEEN: And a lot has changed. She is no longer a student. She is a human rights lawyer. Fatima brings me to her apartment and her girlfriend gives me a tour of their place.

KARIN: We're in our living room, which is full of lots of light and big windows. Yeah, this is our home.

NOSHEEN: Soon after the two met, Fatima decided to get a divorce from her husband.

FATIMA: Well, I said, you know, I am a lesbian. (Laughter)  I am in love with a woman, I need to get out of this marriage, please. All hell broke loose, essentially.

NOSHEEN: But Fatima won her battle for a divorce. She says meeting Karin gave her the strength to fight.

So you said no one would ever imagine that you guys are lesbians?

KARIN: I don't think so. I mean, I think it would take some doing.

FATIMA: Yeah, it's not within the realm of, you know, possibility.

KARIN: Yeah.

FATIMA: People don't usually contemplate two women living together, that they are into each other. (Laughter) Good for us.

KARIN: Because in our society, women don't have sexual needs, desires, drives whatever - and those that do, run brothels.(Laughter) You know? You're just, either you are a nice girl or a fast girl. So if we are fast girls, it means that men come visit us. If we are nice girls, it means that girls come visit us - which works out. (Laughter) 

NOSHEEN: For NPR News, I'm Habiba Nosheen.

When the story and the giggles were over, they explained that the whole Hidden Life of Girls series is available at the NPR website, and then an announcer added that this enterprise was funded by CPB and the NEA. Your tax dollars, hard at work.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis