Imagine being pelted with stones and bricks for merely asking for your fundamental rights. That is what happened to women in Pakistan’s capital city on Sunday.

Women across Pakistan from Islamabad, Lahore, Sukkur, Peshawar, Multan, Karachi, Hyderabad, Toba Tek Singh, Nagarparkar and Quetta marched for equality to mark International Women’s Day on 8th March 2020.

But in the capital, Lal Masjid’s male protesters hurled bricks and stones at Aurat March attendees in Islamabad when they were leaving the venue after the event concluded. Authorities had allowed the counter “Haya March” in Islamabad adjacent to Aurat March – a cloth barrier separated the two groups.

While the Aurat March shouted slogans for economic independence and to end violence against women, the Haya March ranted against what they called ‘immoral women marching for their rights.’ By allowing the Haya March at the same venue the authorities had set the stage for a confrontation.

Approximately 4 people were injured and admitted to PIMS and Polytechnic Hospital.

In Islamabad, Jamaat-i-Islami and Minhaj ul-Quran also conducted Women’s Day rallies, however theirs remained peaceful. The JUI-F marched with Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa’s protesters. The men pulled down the separation and pelted Aurat marchers with stones.

Aurat March in Multan was momentarily disrupted nearing its conclusion when a few individuals hurled hateful insults at the attendees outside the Press Club, and the organizers clashed with at least one of the dissenters.

Quetta made history today for hosting its first ever Aurat March rally, joined by women from all walks of life.

Despite attempts by the Jamiat Ullema-e-Islam to stop Aurat March in Sukkur, women carried on their march with full force.

A seminar on women’s rights and barriers to economic progress was conducted at the Press Club in Peshawar.

Lahore’s Aurat March took off from the Lahore Press Club and arrived at Khayaban Aiwan-e-Iqbal. Over 5000 women, men and transgenders of all ages and backgrounds attended and chanted slogans for equality.

Speaking to voicepk.net, attendees said that despite the anti-Aurat March propaganda on social media, the massive turnout is a sign of the march’s success.

In Karachi, Aurat March was held outside Frere Hall and was attended by women in the thousands. Protesters displayed placards with various demands and slogans.

Aurat March, which first began in 2017, has within 3 years become a successful festival for women and a powerful platform to demand women’s rights.

This year, Aurat March’s manifesto revolves around khudmukhtari (independence) of women and the economic inequalities women face.

 

Anas Mallick and Ayesha Mir from Islamabad, Farhan Mushtaq from Karachi, Asim Khan from Quetta, Baseer Qalandar from Peshawar, Ahmed Saeed, Haider Kaleem and Asra Haque from Lahore.