Aurat March first started in 2018 when a couple of feminist groups decided to hold a march on the international Women’s day. The march has garnered much attention and support since it’s inception.
The march aims to unite women, transgenders and non-binary people, demanding an end to violence and sexual harassment, economic justice, reproductive rights, minority rights, political participation of women among others rights.
The core principles of ‘Hum Auratain’ allows for an arrangement of fundraising events by the organisers. The marches, designed to be anonymous and diverse, are held in all major cities of Pakistan, including Lahore, Islamabad, Karachi, Peshawar, and Quetta.
The march has received severe backlash since the very beginning but this year the year, organizers are witnessing a reaction even before the march.
Mere Pass Tum Ho; The plot
The recent course of events for feminists around Pakistan drama series that ended in January has already started a debate on feminism and the Aurat March. The series, “Meray Paas Tum Ho” told the story of a woman who cheats on her husband to be with a wealthy and influential man. The drama gained more popularity because of the contrary plot as opposed to the usual, man cheating on the wife.
After the drama was aired many feminists took to social media to call out the show for its misogynist dialogue and plot. The controversy became more problematic when the writer, Khalilur ur Rehman Qamar, began appearing on talk shows criticizing the Aurat March, feminism, and women rights activists for bringing a “Western agenda” into Pakistan.
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L is for "Lo, beth gayi sahi se" One of the many ways of controlling and policing female behaviour is by holding women up to a much higher standard of respectability and honour than men. This is done by forcing women to adhere to a set of etiquettes regarding their bodies. From the way women sit, to the way they laugh, to the way they may walk – all these everyday aspects of their bodies are controlled. Refusal to conform to these sexist ways of being results in slut-shaming and humiliation. From early childhood, women are shamed and coached into distorting their bodies to become as small as possible. They are told to keep their knees pressed together when they sit, to keep their voice soft, to not laugh too loud. While maintaining these “ladylike” postures and policing themselves, they are told they should not complain about the double standards they see when men take up excessive space and manspread in public. Women are forced to risk their lives each time they sit in unsafe ways on motorcycles. They must constantly mould and adjust their bodies to cities and products designed for men. Every type of female body is not the same, and women are subjugated to humiliating contortions just to exist in both public and private spaces that dictate every facet of their body. We refuse a life of intense scrutiny and double standards that sexualize and restrain our bodies. #auratmarchkhi #Auratmarch2020 #atozfeminism
This year’s Aurat march has a battle to fight against preconceived notions that are portrayed through mass media consumption, the so called religious opposition and the general misogynistic approach of a populations.