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Aurat March responds to ‘slander’ against victims of sexual abuse

LAHORE: The organisers of Aurat March have issued a statement condemning the ‘slander’ against participants of the march on social media.

There has been a  concerted hate campaign against the march, inciting violence against the participants on the grounds that disrespectful banners and placards were used at the march.

A blanket with testimonies of women survivors of sexual abuse and harassment by employers, school teachers, relatives, and strangers among others was held up at the march, which generated controversy online.

The Aurat March, in its statement, noted that one particular testimony shared by a woman survivor who wrote about sexual abuse by her 50-year-old Qari (Quran teacher) when she was nine years old is being used to present the march as anti-Islam.

“This experience was written in 2021. It is unfortunate to see that a few political workers who were not present in the city where the blanket was laid out, have been personally targeted as a result of this,” it said.

 “Our intention was to shed light on the serious matter of child sexual abuse in Pakistan and the impunity granted to abusers. In 2019, a total of 2,846 reported cases of child sexual abuse were reported in the media alone; we can only imagine what the reality must be,” the statement read.

It said that Aurat March wants to shed light on these issues by supporting survivors and getting voice to their stories. “It is sad to see that the detractors will go as far as to undermine the abuse and rape of children in order to weaken the movement for women’s and children’s rights,” Aurat March further said.

It said that Aurat March continues to stand by the victims of sexual abuse and they want to struggle for a Pakistan where abuse is not rampant in society and where the voices of survivors are respected, not stifled.