Lahore: The Women March, famously known as Aurat March has been taking out rallies for the past five years in Pakistan, demanding equal rights for women, LGBTs and other matters related to the empowerment of women.
Rallies of Aurat March, which showcase thousands of females, young and old, marching on the streets of Pakistan, chanting slogans and carrying banners for women rights, have been under severe criticism by religious parties and organisations, who blame the initiative as part of the vested western agenda to damage the Islamic culture and norms in the country.
This year, organisers have issued another manifesto for this year’s march titled “Reimagining Justice” a.k.a. “Asal Insaf”. The main agenda of the manifesto for 2022, calls for structural revision of the state and society’s conception of justice.
However, religious political parties and organisations do not agree with the Aurat March agenda and have called to stand against it, threatening to use any means necessary to stop it.
President Jamiat-Ulema Islam – Fazl (JUI-F) has warned to stop Aurat March with the use of baton.
“If any attempts are made for obscenity on March 8 in Islamabad, we will condemn it”, said Abdul Majeed Hazarvi, head of JUI-F Islamabad.
“If the march is allowed, we will use baton to stop it”, warned Hazarvi. He said that Aurat March spread obscenity in the name of women’s rights.
The latest threat comes in the wake of a letter written by Religious Affairs Minister Noorul Haq Qadri, who requested Prime Minister Imran Khan to celebrate International Hijab Day on march 8, marking the International Women’s Day.
Qadri stated that celebrating International Hijab Day will be an effort to express solidarity with Muslim women across the globe.
Qadri also stated in the letter that Aurat March has been seen using anti-Islamic slogans, which have been raised during their marches in the past.
While the threat of a confrontation looms for Aurat March, organizers said that the march is not aimed at promotion of any anti-Islamic agenda but is focused on raising the demand to resolve systemic inadequacies.
The manifesto of Aurat March cites an excessive focus on carceral punishment to combat crime. It also highlights the economic and environmental gaps which impact susceptible groups.
The proposed charter of 17 demands by Aurat March organisers include funding to survivor centric welfare organization, universal basic income and care work income for all, de-criminalization of defamation laws.
But with religious organizations calling the Aurat March organizers as agents of the western culture who aim to damage and breach into the Muslim culture, the debate has gained widespread attention and has become the prime focus of interest in Pakistan.