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Azaadi March: Female journalists Treated As ‘Aliens’ By JUI-F Protestors

The unease among the journalist community continued to grow after another anchorperson was stopped from covering the Azaadi March for her show. JUI-F is already confronting dissension on social media for excluding women from their Azaadi March.

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Pakistani journalists particularly female reporters erupted in a furore after they were denied entry inside the Azaadi march of JUI-F in Islamabad. Prominent TV anchor Shiffa Yousafzai and another reporter Annie recorded their protest on social media after they were forced out from the Azaadi march and mistreated by the protestors.

Yousafzai in a series of tweets shared her experience of being bullied and verbally harassed by the marchers. She added that the hostile marchers barred her and the team from recording the videos for the show. She added that she confronted aggressive marchers who were disillusioned with the presence of a woman among them. Yousafzai complained that she was stared at like an alien by the protestors who even hurled distasteful remarks at her.

While recording a video for the program she was interrupted by a man who shouted at her forcing her to leave the ground, soon she was surrounded by a group of men, who followed her until she left the premises. The marchers warned her that they have placed strict permission on the participation of women in the rally in any form. Hence, there were no female protestors alongside men.

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She informed that not only they chanted anti-women slogans but also hurled slogans against the current prime minister Imran Khan and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. A video posted by Shiffa Yousafzai showed the personnel of banned militia ‘Ansar-ul-Islam’ were baton charging the motorcycle riders to clear the area.

Following the chaos, it is reported that JUI-F leader Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Hyderi had announced the entry of women in the Azaadi March.

Prominent female journalists including Nasim Zehra, Asma Shirazi protested against the restriction placed on female journalists by JUI-F. Former PPP leader Sharmila Farooqi also condemned the incident.

Earlier, a female journalist from Karachi had penned down a similar experience which she confronted during the coverage of Azaadi March in Karachi.

The journalist, herself, penned down her experience of being barred multiple times from media coverage of the rally in Karachi-the starting destination of the Azaadi march.

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She asserted that while no women protestors were part of the rally, the male marchers censured her for coming out of her car, standing amid men to cover the rally. She reported that she even heard crass sexist remarks from males from a man in a Khaki uniform-indicating that men from JUI-F’s banned militia ‘Ansar-ul-Islam’ were also accompanying the rally.

She added that it was not her inappropriate dressing which prompted such reaction but a staunch alignment of marchers to the hardcore religious mindset that despises the idea of women emancipation and considers politics an ‘all-men affair‘. In her article, the journalist questions the authenticity of the Azadi (Freedom) March, which does not allow women to freely perform their professional duties.

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