“A woman’s body is no longer her own after she becomes pregnant,” says the protestor as she pickets outside the Planned Parenthood headquarters in Houston, USA. “It’s our job to give women other options.” She looks straight in my eyes. “I know a girl who went into Planned Parenthood for a pregnancy test, and she was forced to have an abortion.”
Sehba Sarwar is a multidisciplinary artist whose prose, poetry, video, and performance art tackle race, class and gender issues. Born and raised in a home filled with artists, educators and activists in Karachi, Pakistan, she learned at a young age to speak out against inequity. Over the last decade, Sarwar‘s writings have appeared in anthologies, newspapers, and magazines in India, Pakistan, and the U.S. Her work explores women’s issues at a global level and straddles two continents, moving between South Asia and the United States.
Sarwar’s first love continues to be fiction: her novel Black Wings was published in 2004 (Alhamra Publishing, Pakistan); her most recent short story, “Soot,” is included in the 2008 anthology of Pakistani women writers, And The World Changed (Feminist Press, New York); and her story, “A Sandstone Past,” appeared in another anthology of Pakistani women writers, Neither Night Nor Day (Harper Collins, India: 2007). Her essays have appeared in publications including Asia: Magazine of Asian Literature, The New York Times’ Sunday Magazine, and Callaloo. Her poetry has also been published in Pakistan and the U.S., and she has performed her work in both countries. Sarwar often leads writing workshops for young and adult women, with the primary goal of helping them find their voices.
Currently, Sarwar is working on a variety of projects including her second novel, a collection of essays, and a video installation project that aims to present an alternative image of events unfolding in Pakistan. Sarwar is based in Houston, Texas, where she serves as founding director of Voices Breaking Boundaries and is an active voice at KPFT Pacifica Radio.