On Saturday, a group of Burqa clad women took out a rally at Zila Council Chowk in Faisalabad, Pakistan against the “Aurat March” orchestrated by progressive women seeking equal rights at par with men in the orthodox Pakistani society. The women were joined by Muslim men also in the rally.
A group of women wearing hijab and burqas took out a rally at Zila Council Chowk in Faisalabad on Saturday in protest against Aurat March, which is scheduled to be held in different cities of Pakistan on Sunday.#OurWomenOurPride pic.twitter.com/H4p1zNOTd6
— N@see® Abb@si (Offi©i@£) (@N_Abba_G) March 8, 2020
The Official Twitter account of Jamiat Ulama-e-Islam Women Wing dubbed the rally against the ‘Aurat March’ as ‘Haya March’ (loosely translated as “march of modesty”). It also alleged that Islam protects Women’s dignity.
— JUI Women Wing (@JUIWomen) March 8, 2020
In another video, a large number of regressive Muslim men could be seen holding placards and agitating against Aurat March in Khoski, Sindh Province of Pakistan.
— Sameer Mandhro (@smendhro) March 8, 2020
Those opposing the Aurat March claim that women in Pakistan already have equal rights, as the can get education, get employment at par with men. They see the march as propaganda by liberal feminists from the west.
اسلام آباد میں ایک جانب جہاں عورت مارچ کیا گیا وہیں مدرسہ جامعہ حفصہ کی طالبات نے حیا مارچ منقعد کیا۔ مارچ میں طالبات کی بڑی تعداد شریک تھی۔
شرکا نے بینرز و پلے کارڈ تھامے ہوئے تھے جن پرمختلف پیغامات اور نعرے درج تھے۔#HayaWalk #HayaMarch #WomensDay#فحاشی_مارچ_نامنظور pic.twitter.com/7CzN5hDicp
— Khizar Maaz (@KhizarMaaz) March 8, 2020
The opposition to Aurat March stems from a skewed understanding of societal discrimination, often due to a predisposition that both genders enjoy “equal rights” allegedly in the Quran. As such, any attempt at reformation is curbed with an iron hand. For instance, the following tweet by a Pakistani man, in an attempt to demonise the peaceful women’s march, draws a false equivalence between a “non-consensual, predatory behaviour” to a “consensual sexual activity.”
Saw a placard on #AuratAzadiMarch2020 today and it read ‘mere nanu mujhe kiss karte hai’.
How cringe and derisory was that playcard. You can give blowjobs to your boyfriend but won’t let your grandad to kiss your forehead.#AuratMarchLahore#Feminism#MeraJismMeriMarzi
— Na Maloom Afraad (@Ibleese) March 8, 2020
Earlier, the Sunni extremists in Pakistan stopped the organisers of the Aurat March for women’s right in Islamabad from completing a mural, claiming it was against Sharia. The Islamists also defaced the mural and wrote hateful messages addressed to the Shia community.
The extremists painted hostile slogans against Shia Muslims, who are a minority in a Sunni dominated Pakistan. The slogan written on the mural declared Shia Muslims to be “Kaafir” (infidels). The Pakistan government had banned the organisation twice, first in 2002 and then again in 2012.
Aurat March was first organised in 2018 on the occasion of International Women’s Day on March 8th, after which it has become an annual event. On this day, women march in various cities of Pakistan demanding equality and freedom.