The ‘Aurat March’ in Faisalabad was called off on Sunday, reportedly due to pressure from the city administration, which refused to provide a no-objection certificate to the organizers (NOC).
The Aurat March was organized by students, civil society, and women to raise awareness about “ongoing femicide and protest the brutal murders of women all over the country in the name of ‘isolated incidents,’ and to make collective social change in the way women are treated.”
The Aurat March Faisalabad’s charter of demands, which was published on the group’s official Twitter account, outlined the march’s goals, which included an end to all gender-based violence, including violence against women and other gender minorities by patriarchal institutions and forces. Protection of women’s and transpeople’s rights, the establishment of gender-based violence reporting cells led by women or trans policewomen, a toll-free hotline for reporting domestic violence cases, special centers for abuse victims, the implementation of laws against women’s abuse and child marriages, and steps to end honor-killing incidents were among the 20 demands and objectives.
The organizers, mostly students and their instructors, had started a social media campaign in favor of the march a few days before and had also appealed to the district administration for a no-objection certificate (NOC) to conduct the march on Sunday.
The assistant commissioner in charge of Faisalabad reportedly refused to grant them permission to conduct the march. The organizers were forced to cancel the event, and they started a social media campaign to protest the decision.
The official Twitter account of Aurat March Faisalabad tweeted: “Aurat march has been postponed due to security concerns. New update will be posted shortly” (sic).
aurat march has been postponed due to security concerns. New update will be posted shortly
— AURAT MARCH FAISALABAD (@FaisalabadMarch) August 1, 2021
The Facebook page of the Aurat March Faisalabad posted: “It’s utterly sad that the system reacted against a peaceful and democratic March that was organized by students of the city. The administration seemed horrified by the popularity and solidarity by the peoples of the city and denied providing any sort of space and protection for a peaceful demonstration, rather, resorted to harassment and threat to the organizers.
But this isn’t the end. We extend our appreciation and thank you all for showing your support. Our voices for the rights of women wouldn’t end here, this is just a drop and we would progress in our fight against patriarchy that has penetrated everywhere. The event is postponed, for now, we apologize for it but we would thank you all for your support and appreciation” (sic).
Ammar Ali Jan, a human rights and political activist, slammed the government for threatening the Aurat March organizers with grave repercussions, as he put it.
He tweeted, “Today’s Aurat March in Faisalabad has been canceled. Assistant Commissioner Faisalabad threatened to arrest the organizers and called young female students to intimidate them. It’s a blatant example of how the state suppresses women’s movements”.
Today's Aurat March in Faisalabad has been cancelled. Assistant Commissioner Faisalabad threatened to arrest organizers and called young female students to intimidate them. Its a blatant example of how the state suppresses women's movements.#ShameonACFaisalabad #JusticeForNoor
— Ammar Ali Jan (@ammaralijan) August 1, 2021
Teacher and rights activist Nida Kirmani tweeted, “Just heard that @FaisalabadMarch’s event was canceled today. #shameonAcFSD for canceling the NOC for this important event. More power to the students for organizing this. We are with you 100%!
— Nida Kirmani (@NidaKirmani) August 1, 2021