Pakistan Authorities Ban Aurat March In Lahore; Organisers File Petition In High Court

A writ petition was filed in the Lahore High Court on Saturday challenging the city official's refusal for a march to mark International Women's Day by feminist groups called ‘Aurat March'

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The city of Lahore in eastern Pakistan has denied permission for a protest in honour of International Women's Day, which is frequently met with vehement opposition in the patriarchal, conservative nation.

Since 2018, marches have been organised in Pakistan's main cities to raise awareness of women's rights.

According to the letter sent to march organisers late Friday, Lahore municipal officials made the decision due to 'controversial cards and banners' frequently carried by march participants and security concerns.

A writ petition was filed in the Lahore High Court on Saturday challenging the order and imploring that it was a violation of their fundamental rights. The petitioners said the aforementioned impugned order is an “arbitrary and colourable exercise of power."

On Monday 6 March, an official tweet from the organisers

Aurat March case - Khawar Mumtaz etc v Deputy Commissioner - was fixed for urgent hearing in the court of J. Muzamil Akhtar Shabbir. The judge has recused himself for "personal reasons". We are disappointed at the delay.#AuratMarch2023 #MarchTuHogi

— ⁧عورت مارچ لاہور⁩ - Aurat March Lahore (@AuratMarch) March 6, 2023 that the hearing in the court was delayed as the judge had recused himself for "personal reasons".

Aurat March 2023

Meanwhile, religious organisations frequently organise counter-protests called 'Haya' (modesty) marches to demand the preservation of Islamic principles.


‘It's a violation of our rights. This raises questions about the state's ability to manage the right to freedom of assembly for both groups,’ said Hiba Akbar, an organiser of Aurat March Lahore.

While the Aurat March is prohibited, Lahore officials have allowed Haya March to take place this year.

Organisers of the Aurat March in Pakistan have frequently had to resort to legal action to counter attempts to ban it. They are

The banners and placards participants wave of the Aurat March demonstrations, which address issues including divorce, sexual harassment, and menstruation, have sparked controversy.

Participants and organisers have been accused of downplaying religious and cultural sensitivity while pushing Western, liberal principles.

A large portion of Pakistani culture adheres to a rigid code of 'honour,' which institutionalises the subjugation of women in regards to issues like the freedom to decide whom to marry, the right to procreate, and even the right to an education.


The Lahore judgement, according to the rights organisation Amnesty International, ‘amounts to an unlawful and unnecessary restriction of the right to assembly.’

Officials in the nation's capital Islamabad, citing security concerns, have relocated the Aurat March to a municipal park where a woman was gang-raped in February.

‘We are a feminist movement, we will not be in parks, but rather on the streets', a proclamation by march organisers read.

In 2020, dozens of men arrived in vehicles and stoned the female Aurat March participants.

Suggested reading: Aurat March 2021: Pakistani Feminists Are Out On Streets Demanding Healthcare And More

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