On Monday, the annual Aurat Azadi March was held in several cities of Pakistan, including Lahore, Islamabad and Karachi on the occasion of International Women’s Day. With an objective to achieve equal social status at par with men in the conservative society in the Islamic country of Pakistan, the participants of the Aurat March sat on a dharna, raised slogans and marked the homecoming of the feminist movement.
Hum Inqalaab Hain https://t.co/47kK2kEUhz— Aurat Azadi March Islamabad (@AuratAzadiMarch) March 8, 2021
Pakistanis objectify women, call them ‘vulgar’, ‘anti-social’
However, ahead of the historic ‘Aurat Azadi March’, Pakistani men have been spewing venom against the women’s movement. From labelling it as ‘vulgar’, ‘un-Islamic’ to comparing women with vegetables and animals, Pakistanis did not leave any stone unturned to tarnish the fight of women for justice and equal rights. M Saad Arslan Sadiq, who claims to be an entrepreneur, wrote, “Both men and women have special rights in Islam but to do Aurat March and giving slogan mera jism meri marzi should not be promoted. It is totally against our moral values.”
It must be pointed out that regressive Pakistanis had been deliberately misinterpreting the slogan ‘mera jism meri marzi‘ to suggest that the women participating in Aurat March want to have physical relations with several men. While the objective behind the slogan was to emphasise women’s choice and liberty, Islamists have been using the said slogan to cast aspersions on the feminist movement.
One Twitter user, Syed Hamza Gillani’s anti-women stance came to the fore when he compared the participants of the ‘Aurat March’ to rotten apples. “A silent message for those who support the Women’s Freedom March,” he wrote.
Another user did not bother to hide his misogyny. Comparing women to a herd of ‘donkeys’, he wrote “Aurat Azadi March be like:”
Twitter user Syed Aoun Ali wrote, “Some liberals have destroyed the real cause of Women’s Day and their genuine rights. They are connecting their own personal filthy desires with this. May Allah protect our women from these vulgar ones.”
Reiterating the same narrative, one user tweeted, “They people who are participating in Aurat march are not liberals but belongs to vulgar, corrupt, dishonest and agents of enemies of Islam and Pakistan.”
While labelling Aurat Azadi March as anti-social, anti-Pakistan and anti-Islam, one Syed Sajid Bukhari wrote, “There is no place for anti-social, anti-Pakistan and anti-Islam agendas in my beloved country.”
Feminism is not un-Islamic: Pakistan’s Aurat Azadi March explains
In a tweet on February 26, Aurat Azadi March Islamabad had explained that their protest is not un-Islamic. The official Twitter handle of the movement wrote, “The mainstream narrative about Aurat March is that it’s un-Islamic. This idea has been hammered into us that our norms & cultural values are at stake at the hands of these movements.” To break the stigma attached to it, they had also shared an animation explaining the concept of women’s freedom.
“Is demanding for social and financial equality and justice, un-Islamic? Is it against Islam to speak about education for women? Is it unIslamic to raise voice against the atrocities committed against women? Is it unislamic to speak against child abuse, acid attacks and killing women in the name of honour? If all of it is against Islam, then what is your Islam? Calling ‘Aurat March’ un-Islamic is akin to insulting the religion.”
“We are not against Islam or any religion. The majority of those connected with our movement practice their Faith in private. Feminism is not against Islam, Christianity or any other religion. We are against all such archaic practices that have been traditionally used to oppress women,” the video concluded. 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.