PAKISTAN, LAHORE: Despite efforts by authorities in several cities to prevent the divisive marches, thousands of women rallied across Pakistan on Wednesday.


The rallies, called the Aurat (women) March, have drawn criticism for the subjects they’ve brought up on banners and placards waved by participants.

Each year, the most controversial billboards spark weeks of outrage and numerous death threats.

A schoolteacher named Rabail Akhtar, who was among the roughly 2,000 people who gathered in Lahore to celebrate International Women’s Day, explained the purpose of the Aurat March: to demand the security and safety that women are not afforded in this country and society.
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Shared videos on social media showed multiple police officers baton charging demonstrators.

Minister of the Interior Rana Sanaullah tweeted that he had summoned the head of police in the capital and suspended the officers involved.

At first, city officials had refused to provide security for the event, even though they had already given the go-ahead for a “modesty” countermarch to take place.

It’s absurd that we have to go through the same drama every year… Soheila Afzal, a graphic designer, questioned why women fighting for equal rights were viewed with such hostility.

A legal challenge in Karachi by an individual to ban a related rally on the weekend so that working women could attend was rejected by the courts.

A woman was gang raped in a public park in the capital city of Islamabad in February, but the event’s organizers disobeyed police orders and held the rally elsewhere.
Instead, hundreds of women gathered outside of the city’s press club, where the march was eventually allowed to begin after police removed a barricade.

“Women used to be quiet, but now we have women on roads talking about their rights and justice and I think that is the change they were looking for,” said Aisha Masood, a 24-year-old NGO worker.

Many in the Muslim majority country see the Aurat March as a promotion of Western cultural values and elitism, and have accused the event’s organizers of being insensitive to local religious and cultural norms.

Women from conservative religious groups rally for modesty and the protection of “family values” at counterprotests in most major cities.

Because we live in a patriarchal and male-dominated society, I will not defend men. But we have to ensure an end to violence while confining ourselves within the parameters of Islamic Shariah,” said Asia Yaqoob, a 45-year-old housewife wearing a hijab at a rally of more than 1,000 women in the capital.

A woman’s natural beauty is revealed when she wears the modest clothing our faith requires.

Tossing stones at women taking part in the Aurat March in Islamabad in 2020, groups of extremist male Islamists arrived in vans.

The “honor” code that governs much of Pakistani society institutionalizes women’s subjugation in relation to issues like marriage choice, reproductive autonomy, and access to formal education.

In Pakistan, hundreds of women are killed annually by men who accuse them of breaking this code.