Every year, there is talk about Aurat March in some negative capacity. While we gear up for the Aurat March in Karachi on the 12th of March, our spirit not broken but yes, slightly dampened by what happened in Islamabad recently.
Aurat March Is The Fury Of Women Unleashed For All They Have To Suffer For 364 days In a Year, But They Don’t Seem To get That Day Off Too!
About a couple thousand participants were met with a baton charge in Islamabad during the Aurat March, by the federal Police. The women and men, participating in the march faced difficulties in reaching the Islamabad Press Club as all roads leading to the venue were blocked with barbed wires and containers.
Resulting in scathing exchanges occurring between women and the police officials outside the club as participants pushed through to remove the wires, chanting how they too had rights to peacefully protest. One of the organizers, explained how the police pushed back which led to start of a fight. What ensued next was confusion and unrequired violence between the two groups. Reportedly, several members of the transgender community were injured. Interior Minister, Rana Sanaullah tweeted informing the public of the capital’s police chief being summoned and suspending the officers involved.
Why We Feel Threatened
Why do women standing up or marching for the their rights and the rights of other marginalized communities meet with baton charge or resistance? Is it because the other side fails to understand the assignment, or is instigated by fear that their own position in society will be undermined if women claim their rightful rights or … do they harbour a deeper emotion, one of hate, disregard or prejudice towards the opposite sex? Are they so conditioned into seeing them in positions of submission, obedience and ‘second class citizens’ perse that they feel that is the rightful place for a woman and she deserves to stay there?
A place at the table is either not their right or their competency. They are born to serve, not lead. And that’s where they should belong.
Sound misogynistic? You tell us.
Not The Only Hurdle
Sadly, this wasn’t the only hurdle for participants in peacefully protesting for their rights in Islamabad. Just a few days prior to the march, the political party ATP (Amun Taraqqi Party) Chief Faiq Shah challenged the decision allowing Aurat March organizers to hold the rally at F-9 Park. Thankfully, IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq ordained the plea non-maintainable. Even in Lahore, organizers had to reach Lahore High Court after city authorities declined on permitting the march over security issues, the court however ended up giving the green light.
The cause of women seems to be met with constant debilitating non – acceptance and threats of violence from not just authorities but even political parties. Pakistan as a nation is closely tied to the sentiments of religious political parties. Imaan Zainab Mazari, an organizer in Islamabad addressed the state being “anti-women”. While another participant said she feels the state has gotten harsher in response to Aurat March. These parties have a real power to exercise their said stances. The above all are just the current oppositions being faced, last year Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl’s (JUI-F) voiced serious oppositions to Aurat March. Further resorting to violence to use batons to stop the march in case the government allowed it.
Abdul Majeed Hazarvi, the chief of JUI-F, said that during Aurat March, “obscenity is spread in the name of women’s rights”.
We question: Women appropriately covered in cultural clothing, marching for their said rights (case in point, the same rights our religion and constitution provides us with) and incorporating messages of empowerment through motivational songs and plays is the matter of concern and obscenity?
The Mindless Backlash
The Aurat March, held since 2018, continues to receive backlash and the criticism just doesn’t stop without people even making an effort to believe in the cause or going through the manifestos. From believing one sided, sensational media reports on the events transpiring, to not being able to digest the slogans and banners raising subjects such as divorce, sexual harassment and menstruation, calling out the society that is so comfortable in ill-treating women. These subjects are real and a big part of women’s lives.
Another ideology people have is that Aurat March, is suspiciously backed by the western media and is propagating the murder of our culture and values. When it’s not the afore mentioned, it’s belittling and labelling the empowerment “Tappe” or songs as mere “Nach Gana” without understanding the core essence.
Misplaced Rage Followed By Denied Justice
Where is the same unfathomable rage, degradation and call for sheer violence addressing the Aurat March, when 3 minor girls die of rape in Lyari, when Noor Mukadam is brutally murdered in the federal capital whose parents still await justice, when a girl accompanied by a MALE COMPANION is raped in one of Islamabad’s safest areas – the F-9 Park and when a young female flood displaced victim is raped in broad daylight, in the metropolitan?
Just re – calling these terrible incidents is enough to unleash our fury. Has justice been served with the same ferocity with which we question Aurat March? Most still confidently say we don’t need Aurat March, it is mere “tamasha”. Our conscience, it seems has died.
There has been decades if not centuries of anger pent up in women, rightly so and the cherry on the cake is the continuation of the stories they hear and the continuation of denied justice. No it’s not an elitist cause either, one of the major premise is marching for the women who can’t march for themselves. We are moved to ask why Pakistan is so threatened by a few thousand women merely leaving their homes to ask for their rights and to implore the ones who don’t believe they should be given their due rights
Hopefully we can revisit the true essence of Aurat March by genuinely educating ourselves of the noble cause. Yes, there we called it a noble cause. In case, you didn’t know, the agenda for this year’s march is: This year women will be marching for “our hunger, social security, a living wage, an end to bonded labour, rehabilitation of flood victims, an end to mob violence, an end to domestic violence, the Transgender Persons Protection Act 2018 and to end forced conversions.”
Here’s an article about 6 men at this year’s Aurat March who understood the assignment. Click below!