Violence against women and casual misogyny is deeply rooted in our society. As women started to gradually reclaim public spaces and stood up for their rights, the patriarchy was perturbed and has decided to strike back.
Since the last two years, the Aurat March is being held on March 8 – also celebrated as International Women’s Day – and has been growing ever since. A petition has been submitted in the Lahore High Court calling for stopping the Aurat March, terming it ‘anti-state’ and ‘un-Islamic’. The petition has demanded a permanent ban on the march, stating that it was a failed attempt to raise grave issues faced by women.
When the first Aurat March was held, the attention was diverted on the placards and banners which caused unease among the patriarchal minds as they challenged the ways women are expected to conform to society. As the next march draws closer, the posters might return and the petitioner is concerned that women will display messages which he states manifest “vulgarity” and “anarchy”.
Women’s Day is observed to recognise and appreciate women for their achievements to express solidarity with women against discrimination, domestic violence and all forms of injustice. The feminist movement in Pakistan has been strengthening and though it can be argued whether serious issues are being brushed aside, the petition to permanently ban the march is rather frivolous.
Everyone including women has the right to a peaceful protest and such movements cannot be silenced merely because their presence offends others. This highlights that certain elements will stoop to any level to impede the democratic and social rights of women.
Although a march may not resolve the issues faced by women, a ban on the march will not serve any purpose either. Men have always sought to control women’s lives and bodies. As a wave started and women started demanding basic rights, men also sought to downgrade them further. With the MeToo and TimesUp movement facing repeated attacks, feminism still has a long way to go.
Last year, some posters and slogans were criticised and became a topic of debate. They highlight some of the issues faced by women on a daily basis. Our society had developed chauvinistic standards and women are expected to conform to it including the way they are supposed to sit, remain soft-spoken and polite, dress and their responsibilities towards others.
Women are the driving force in building strong nations but their identity is attached to their relationship with a man. Women need to be independent, make their own decisions, and deserve the same rights and opportunities as men. We need to move forward with a progressive mindset rather than banning an Aurat March.
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