It’s the voice of women. All for one another. Pakistan Aurat March, will see women take to the streets of Karachi and Lahore buzzed with slogans of emancipation. It would be the third time when Pakistani women would take to public spaces to raise their voices against the wrongs in society. The idea gained momentum with women from Islamabad, Hyderabad, Quetta, Mardan, and Faislabad coming down for rallies in their respective areas and this year it is expected to be bigger and better though not without some sections of society threatening to interrupt these gutsy women.
Here are the ten things you need to know about the Pakistan Aurat March 2020.
The theme for 2020 is ‘Khudmukhtari (autonomy) and Violence (both sexual and economic)’. The women are planning to rally against the patriarchy and how it is a catalyst for the ongoing high rates of sexual and economic violence. They have scheduled performances around the same to send out a clear message, as per the makeup artist Leena Ghani, one of the main organizers.
Organized under the banner of “Hum Auratein” (We Women), the march is a platform for women of all backgrounds, transgender people, and non-binary people to fight for gender equality and justice. It’s a step towards the creation of an inclusive society and people from diverse backgrounds are collaborating for the same.
Nighat Dad, the founder of Digital Rights Foundation and one of the organizers of the march in Lahore wrote: “The agenda of the march was to demand resources and dignity for women, for transgender community, for religious minorities, and for those on the economic margins, but more importantly, to acknowledge that women’s emancipation is inherently linked with improvement of all mistreated groups and minorities”.
The manifesto highlights the concerns for this year’s march, which include, economic and environmental justice, an immediate end to gender-based violence, end to police brutality and enforced disappearances, the inclusion of differently-abled persons in public spaces, equal access to reproductive health services, and denunciation of mass destruction policies.
The Unabashed Tongue
The language used in slogans and posters in the last two marches was criticized as it boldly attacked the patriarchal practices prevalent in South Asia. Last year, the poster saying, ‘Mera Jism, Meri Marzi’ did rounds of the Internet and was attacked by critics as well as like-minded people. The marchers were called “vulgar opportunists” who sabotaged the Islamic culture. Other slogans included, ‘Akeli Awara Azaad’ and ‘Khud Khana Garam Kar Lo’.
Apart from the fearless posters, art is used to call out women by wall paintings ahead of the march. Art and writings fill the walls and demand for gender equality, the right to education, and freedom from the shackles of patriarchy. These convey the messages clearly. Last year, there was a poster of a girl sitting with her legs spread out, and the speech bubble read, ‘ Lo baith gayi sahi se’. These badass forms of art attack exactly where they are supposed to.
Many of the paintings and poems that decorated the walls in Lahore were taken down or torn off. The unapologetic posters and slogans cracked nerves in the last two marches and are still receiving backlash from conservatives on grounds of being fundamentally incorrect.
Last month, a petition was filed in the Lahore court to condemn the march, arguing that its aim was to “spread anarchy, vulgarity, blasphemy and hatred” of Islam. The court ruled it should proceed as the freedom of expression could not be curbed, however, said organizers needed to ensure people participating adhere to “decency and moral values”.
The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) has demanded that television channels refrain from broadcasting “vulgar/inappropriate content” related to the march. As per the advisory, the airing of such content would mean the breach of PEMRA rules as well as court orders.
When the organizing committee issued an online poster to call people to join them, a plethora of vile and sexist comments followed. Men threatened the committee members of rape, death, and various attacks. There are people who have had the audacity to say that if women have rights over their bodies men have the right to rape them. [Image Credit: Dawn]
Saavriti is an intern with SheThePeople.TV