LAHORE – Authorities in the country’s second-largest city Lahore denied permission for Aurat March, a controversial event to mark International Women’s Day, as the event continues to draw backlash in South Asian nation.
In an open show of defiance, thousands of women are preparing to demand their rights with bold and edgy slogans, in accordance with previous events but this time Deputy Commissioner (DC) Lahore Rafia Haider has decided against giving permission to organise the citing security concerns, and controversial slogans and banners supporting women’s rights.
The move draws quite a heat shortly and eventually started a legal tussle as Lahore High Court Bar Association Secretary Sabhat Rizvi challenged the unilateral move. Several activists including Khawar Mumtaz, Leena Ghani, and Hiba Akbar opposed the ban, calling it a clear violation of fundamental rights.
It maintained that the order suppressed freedom of speech as well as the right to non-discrimination and to be treated in accordance with the law.
The recent ban comes amid ongoing debate as a large number of people flagged it against Pakistani culture and social norms. Right-wing party members called it vulgar and offensive as slogans like Mera Jism Meri Marzi sparked controversy and triggered strong reactions.
As many opposed these ideas, Aurat Marchers called it needed to draw attention to the issues neglected by mainstream media and political parties.
Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and Amnesty International denounced the denial of permission and called on authorities to end unnecessary restrictions.
Social Media reactions:
In a city where large crowds are allowed to gather for PSL, a peaceful gathering of women and gender minorities is being silenced and denied their constitutional right to assembly. Are cricket matches more important than issues of gender-based violence?
— عورت مارچ لاہور – Aurat March Lahore (@AuratMarch) March 3, 2023
🇵🇰 Pakistan: Amnesty International is dismayed with the decision of the Lahore district administration to refuse permission for the @AuratMarch citing, “controversial cards and banners for awareness of women’s rights” amongst other reasons. (1/3)
— Amnesty International South Asia (@amnestysasia) March 3, 2023
Aurat March Karachi is doing a Twitter space tonight to talk about the inflation, hunger and violence that is escalating in our country. Who is at fault? And can this be rectified?
Become a part of the conversation and use the hashtags#AskAMKHI#RiyasatJawabDouZulmKaHisaabDou pic.twitter.com/sMByzY9SZ2
— Sab maya hai (@ItsNotaRant) March 4, 2023