The forty-one-year-old single mother is originally from Karachi and runs a shop in Lahore. In order to avoid harassment, she runs her corner store dressed as a man.

She is aware of the harassment women encounter in Anarkali Bazaar and has seen it all, from menacing stares to physical altercations. It is no wonder then that she disguises herself as a man in order to earn a living for her nine-year-old daughter Rida.

How did she become the Pakistani Mulan?

It all started when she married a man of her choice and her parents cut her off.

“In 2010, I chose to get married to someone who was not the same ethnicity as me as and my parents did not accept it. It was an extremely difficult time.”

Things got worse, when Ehile Farheen was pregnant, her husband left her. With a complicated birth at one point, she feared her daughter would end up being orphaned. Farheen saved up money and the mother-daughter duo moved to Lahore. This ‘modern-day Mulan’ soon discovered that she was surrounded by male-dominated public places. As a female hawker selling snacks, Farheen was constantly harassed and discouraged.

Since quitting was not an option, Farheen disguised herself as a man with the alias ‘Ali’.

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