It’s Haya March vs Aurat March on Sunday

By: Faizan Ali Warraich      Published: 07:23 PM, 7 Mar, 2020
It’s Haya March vs Aurat March on Sunday
Two women clean legumes at their roadside stall, on the eve of the International Women's Day, in Karachi on Saturday.–AFP

The United Nations theme for International Women’s Day 2020 is "I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights” but the Pakistani intelligentsia has already been polarized between Aurat March and Haya March themes.

UN declares the year 2020 represents an unmissable opportunity to mobilize global action to achieve gender equality and human rights of all women and girls.

Liberals and fundamentalists instead of talking on the real issues of women faced in Pakistan have announced to mark the day with their respective ideologies on women’s day. The real scapegoat is public which has become spectators and waiting for the ‘real show’ between the two opposite factions of society that has refused so far to move back from their stance.

Marching on Sunday

Aurat March organisers say, “We will meet at Lahore Press Club on Sunday from 11am to 3 pm.

On the other hand in Islamabad, Jamiat Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat and other religious parties have also announced to hold Haya March countering Aurat March.

Clerics have decided to hold peaceful Haya March, rallies in front of National Press Club against Aurat March to mark International Women’s Day.

Police have also taken all the precautionary measures to avoid any untoward incident.

It is not the first time that clerics have openly denounce the slogans of Aurat March as two mainstream religious and political parties including Jamat-e-Islami and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl already spearheaded their party followers to counter the ‘western mindset’ of Aurat March.

Aurat March organizers say, everyone is welcome to join the March, regardless of gender, beliefs, or ethnicity. Keep yourself hydrated! We urge all marchers to avoid plastic bottles to prevent waste. Dress comfortably! We recommend that marchers wear masks to ensure personal safety and reduce chances of infections spreading.

Take care of your personal items! Compact and easy to carry bags are recommended. The March has an absolute no harassment policy. If you experience or witness any incident, please report to a volunteer immediately.

Organizers say that they have mobilized already the students of Lahore College for Women University, Kinnaird College for Women, Punjab University, University of Lahore, Beaconhouse National University, Lahore University of Management Sciences, and University College Lahore and from various public and private universities to participate in the Aurat March.

Just one day before the Aurat March, there are a string of videos posted on the official twitter account explaining the context and meaning of the slogans.

Situation in Sindh

Senator Sherry Rehman tweeted that, “PPP will provide full protection to women marchers in Sindh, and demands that the PTI govt ensure protection to all women’s rights rallies across the country. No ifs and buts”.

Slogans which diverted the real debate

Mera jism meri marz (my body, my choice) was the most controversial slogan of Aurat March that stirred controversy. On social media, some consumers express to simply change the slogan in order to focus on the real issues of women while others asked the Aurat marchers to explain the slogans so people could understand the motives of the march.

Government’s Stance

Special Assistant to PM for Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan had stated peaceful Aurat March would be acceptable but the slogans were not.

Addressing a ceremony in Islamabad, Firdous lambasted the Aurat March slogans like ‘mera jism meri marzi’ and termed them ‘misguided’.

“My few sisters and daughters are raising such slogans which are against the socio-religio values of our society. In the name of women empowerment, such slogans represent western values not ours,” she said.

Legal position on Aurat March

Lahore High Court and Islamabad High Court have granted permission to the Aurat march peacefully but the slogans must not be based on hatred. What’s next? The Punjab, Sindh and federal governments will be providing security to the Aurat marchers in federal and provincial capitals and maintain the law and order situation.

Tirade that hijacked the debate

Writer Khalilur Rehman Qamar and activist Marvi Sirmed exchanged abusive remarks in a live television show which hijacked the real debate to discuss the women issues in Pakistan.

Statistics

A recent survey conducted by United Nations study stated that nearly 90 percent of the world's population of every gender holds some prejudice against women. 

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) studied 75 countries representing 80 percent of the world's population and found that nine in 10 people hold such beliefs include that men are better politicians and business leaders than women; that going to university is more important for men than women; and that men should get preferential treatment in competitive job markets. Study said 99.81 percent of people in Pakistan held such prejudices.