For the fifth consecutive year, Pakistani women marked International Women’s Day on March 8 with rallies, demonstrations, events and debates over the increasing violence against women in the form of harassment, deprivation of basic rights, sexual violence and lack of equal opportunities in the country dominated by the male society.
While the issues related to women in Pakistan have gone from bad to worse, concerned voices have also have had an impact on the overall awareness and demand for their rights, has also increased.
Many believe that addressing the issues related to women rights and opening up a debate on them has helped many oppressed females, who have started voicing their demand for respect, dignity and rights. But it has also become a reason for increased violence by men against women.
A major reason for this is the fact that in a male dominated society, men are taught from childhood that they are superior and the saviour of their sisters and mothers, which is carried forward to their adulthood and reflected into the current society, where they claim authority and ownership of their spouses, even if it oppresses women of their respect, dignity and their basic rights.
Such a society does not seem to be ready to see women, empowering themselves up towards independence and becoming vocal about reminding men of their responsibilities, assigned by Islam as sons, brothers, husbands and fathers.
This can be put at one of the main reasons why many men, who are a product of the male dominated feudal family upbringing, feel threatened by empowered women and opt to taking extreme steps of physical, emotional and mental abuse to suppress them of their rights.
Aurat March has certainly played apivotal role in getting the unaddressed issues of women into an open debate, which has given the revelation to oppressed women that they are not the only one facing such abuses, but also has made them aware that they hold a much greater value and ability to become stronger, claim their rights and not be dependent on others to decide their future’s well being.
But on the other hand, Aurat March has been tainted with many accusations in the past. It has been accused of carrying forward the foreign agenda of legalising abortion and promote LGBT rights in the country.
They have also been accused of deliberately carrying objectionable banners and chanting slogans, which criticise state institutions.
Aurat March has also been termed as a vulgar gathering of elites, which has neither impacted nor has it done anything to ensure the provision of basic rights and legal help to deprived women in the rural areas and at the grassroot level.
Religious organisations see the organizers and participants of Aurat March as enemies of Islam and have strongly opposed the initiative.
They maintain that such marches are only promoting women to stand against men and see them as their enemies, which they add is hurting the basic principle of a family, which requires both men and women to prosper.