February 7, 2024
By Bilal Baseer
Expressing shock at the decision of the Criminal Court regarding the Iddat Case, the Aurat March staged a demonstration in front of the National Press Club in Islamabad on February 7.
Activists at the protest delivered impassioned speeches and chanted slogans to denounce the February 3 verdict involving PTI founder Imran Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi.
Chanting the powerful slogan, “meri shadi meri marzi” (my marriage, my
choice), participants reiterated that the verdict represents a severe setback for women’s rights in Pakistan.
Tahira Abdullah, a senior human rights activist, asserted, “The court cannot interfere in personal family matters.” According to a statement issued by the Aurat March, the verdict reflects the unequal marriage laws that perpetuate male dominance and control over marital relationships, reinforcing patriarchal norms.
The feminist group emphasized that the case underscores the detrimental
impact of Pakistan’s parallel judicial system, which combines Sharia and
Statutory laws – “This dual system often leads to delays in registering
divorces and marriages, leaving women vulnerable to exploitation by men
who exploit Sharia principles for their benefit.”
The statement called for immediate action from the state to address these
shortcomings in family laws to protect women’s rights and bodily autonomy. The demonstrators unanimously asserted that women’s testimony must be regarded as conclusive in family matters.
Rights activist Farzana Bari highlighted that the implications of the verdict
would affect nearly half of the country’s population, rendering all women
vulnerable. She urged the higher judiciary to overturn the ruling.
Uzma Yaqoob expressed concern that the verdict violated women’s privacy
and dignity, stating, “It is troubling that such a personal matter as
menstruation is being discussed in court.”
Senior politician and human rights activist Farhatullah Babar criticized the decision as a stain on the country’s judicial system, asserting that it dishonored all women of Pakistan, not just Imran Khan and his wife. He stressed that his participation in the protest should not be construed as siding with any political party but rather as advocating for basic human rights and gender equality.