Keeping up with the ritual of past few years, women across major cities of Pakistan on Monday took part in Aurat March (Women’s march) rallies to mark the International Women’s Day, calling for protection of their rights. The rallies were organised in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad and several other cities to observe the day. However, several people abstained for going to the rallies and instead marked their presence with posters and slogans on social media. Different chapters of the march issued their own manifestoes. The Karachi chapter focused on patriarchal violence, Lahore addressed healthcare workers and women’s health, while Islamabad march was dedicated to crisis of care.
In Karachi, women from different age groups took part in the protest as they were carried placards with messages “Stop underage marriages, equality is important, not victimisation” and raised slogans in support of their rights.
The organisers of the march in Lahore laid out a “#MeToo blanket” where women shared their experiences of sexual violence and abuse. Women sang songs and recited poetry in Islamabad to demand their inherent rights, including equality and safety of life and respect. However, the highlight of the event were the placards with blunt slogans. Over the past few years, Pakistan’s Aurat March has been known for putting out bold statements like “Mera jism, meri marzi”, “Khana khud garam karo”, etc wherein women have tried to speak about consent, women’s agency over their bodies, equality, abusive marriages, etc.
This year too, the slogans took the internet by storm. Take a look at some of the sassy placards from the march:
— Ailia Zehra (@AiliaZehra) March 8, 2021
— T a z e e n (@tazeen) March 8, 2021
— Maryam (@maryamful) March 8, 2021
— Sajeer (@sajeershaikh) March 8, 2021
— Mona Farooq Ahmad (@MFChaudhryy) March 7, 2021
— SARAH. (@_SaraCo_) March 8, 2021
I can’t be at the March this year because of COVID concerns for my parents who are at risk so sharing this kickass picture of me and my parental unit proudly proclaiming our feminist allegiance last year before heading out to join @AuratAzadiMarch #AuratMarch2021 pic.twitter.com/WF0NKCLrlM
— Sehar Tariq (@sehartariq) March 8, 2021
— ہم مہذب نہیں مذہبی ہیں (@AhmadAli_sayys) March 5, 2021
— میمونہ شیرازی (@MaimoonaSherazi) March 6, 2021
— Nadia (@nadiaak32) March 8, 2021
— we should all be feminists (@faheemovic_9) March 8, 2021
— HaMaiza (@MaiZi012) March 8, 2021
— Fatima Khalil Butt(Mrs) (@iam_FatiMaButt) March 8, 2021
— _✨ (@zainabkhansuri) March 8, 2021
— Moeez Abid (@BeMoeez) March 8, 2021
— Gulaan (@Gulaann_) March 8, 2021
Last year, ugly scenes were witnessed during the march in Islamabad after a rival ‘Haya March’ participants organised by religious parties threw stones at participants, injuring at least one person. The march faced backlash this year too on social media as people accused the participants of Aurat March to be promoting “western values” and ‘damaging the society’s social fabric’.