Aurat March: “Have Paratha rolls, not gender roles”
“Listen, Sakina, It doesn’t make any sense,” Shifa argued, “Why wouldn’t you help your gal pals out in Aurat March?”
“I don’t believe in what it stands for?”
“What does it stand for?”
“Behayai, Fahashi, Bakwaas (Immodesty, vulgarity, and ridicule),” Sakina quoted, “I literally advocate female rights yet all these March advocates are liberalism and secularism.”
Snippets of conversations flit to and fro on Whatsapp between the comrades when it somehow pivoted towards the impending March.
‘Aurat March on 8th March,’ Shifa thought excitedly, ‘How apt.’;
The march was endorsed by the Lady Health Workers Association and included representatives from multiple women’s -rights organizations.
With that being said, the organized large rallies in Lahore and Karachi filled the country with dissent.
Here is why…
Various slogans stirred the pot with its controversial placards, namely,
Tou kare toh stud, mein karu toh slut. (You’re considered a stud if you do it but I’m called a slut for the same thing.)
Consent ki tasbeeh rozana parhen. (count the beads of consent daily)
Agar dupatta itna pasand hai tou khud le lo! (If you like the dupatta so much then you wear it!)
The icing on the cake was,
Mera jism, Meri marzi! (My body, my choice).
People took it to the internet to raise their concerns.
This attempt against the prevalent misogynistic and myopic view of the masses was perhaps an ingenious (Sakina would perhaps say, ‘immoral’) way to throw a torrid bone in their way.
Or, was it?
What kickstarted as a seemingly clear motto manifested into something that the internet deems sinister. A few summed up what the March comprised of in the previous two years,
“What feminists women discussed on #AuratAzadMarch2019 today;
- Say no to veil
- Our body our consent
- Say no to man
- We want independence
- Say yes to vulgarity”
“Organizers of the march are requested to prioritize the issues. Cheap slogans undermine genuine issues like equal property rights, right to divorce, equal employment opportunities and harassment at the workplace. – @sanahunzai”
I am all about female rights! Right? Um…
Here is an alternative opinion where one has to understand that feminism is inherently a leftist movement.
If one’s feminism is not anti-capitalist, looks down upon homemakers while respecting those women that meet the capitalistic standards of success, doesn’t delve into the patriarchal institutions of family and marriage, celebrates consumerism, and doesn’t charge against the status quo, then their ideology is fundamentally flawed.
Thus, torches and pitchforks have been grabbed to refute and underpin the core values of the March. Pinched brows ask if the crude placards were at all necessary.
Perhaps a softer approach could have been used?
One would conflate a number of different physical and psychological reasons behind such a rebuttal.
A ban threatening to levy on the Aurat March 2020 was the last straw that broke the camel’s back.
Will the women in the parties please speak up?
Senator Sherry Rehman quickly rushed to its rescue by tweeting a statement, “PPP will support all women’s rights marches and stand in solidarity with @AuratMarch as well as other activists seeking rights.
All attempts at silencing women will be resisted. Democratic countries handle all such equality and empowerment public conversations with tolerance.”
So, what does the Aurat March stand for if not ‘a right to nudity and a breather from the kitchen’?
While a few females decided to make a circus of what could have been an intellectual approach to redefine women’s emancipation, the theory of the Aurat March has been tacked on its twitter account for the world to see.
It is actually a refreshing insight and the Meraki applauds the brevity with which it has been proposed. I will paraphrase the points it stands for, in a nutshell;
- To increase the minimum wage so women would attain a respectable income that would ensure them a dignified lifestyle.
- Provision of social services to ensure gender and women and sexual minorities’ right to work without a marked wage gap in genders.
- Defamation laws are decriminalized and amendments passed to civil laws in order to ensure that they are not used to silence survivors of sexual violence.
- To redefine all workplaces including independent contractors, informal and subcontracted labour, to ensure it covers anti-harassment laws.
- Domestic violence should be effectively criminalized in all provinces and territories in Pakistan. This should set the minimum age of marriage at 18 for all persons across Pakistan along with immediate legislation on stopping forced religious conversions.
- Anti-harassment laws and sexual assault laws be amended to include all genders as potential complainants, including gender and sexual minorities’.
- Concrete actions should be taken by the state to curb child sexual abuse and early age education about consent.
The Meraki concurs
The core values of the much-beloved march make sense to a lot of females smothered and left with nothing but a cry for help.
Females seen as a burden to be passed onto the next male insight are the morals the March stomps on.
However, we do believe a well-intentioned strategy bears fruit.
Allow your quivering voices to be heard, don’t be an echo.
Most importantly, it is not always what you say, it’s how you say it.
The success of your argument critically matters on your manner of presenting it.
I conclude this with an empowering mantra,
“A girl should be two things: Who and What she wants.”
Just to add a leaf to this whole article, Aurat March recently uploaded their guidelines which may enable the entire campaign to move forward (and be taken) in a more positive light.
Staff Writer: Sarah Salman
Featured Artwork: Nahal Hashir @HoneyBeeBumblin