This slogan has taken utmost attention by the majority of people on many social media platforms & advertisements as a striking short and memorable phrase. The basic theme behind the slogan is to target people with different mindsets and ideologies. It is usually written in an eye-catching order to attract its targeted audience.
The same approach has been adopted in Aurat March too. Different slogans were shared with people to attract them with their eye-catching taglines—while others were being represented eccentrically and irregularly. This all is done just for the sake of attention-seeking and just to catch the eye of a specific audience.
The most famous slogan that caught the attention of most of the people with different sets of ideologies was (#Mera Jism Meri Marzi). Ironically, fear of Novel Coronavirus could not get us engaged in debate more than the terminology issue of this particular slogan (#Mera Jism Meri Marzi).
Yesterday, on #InternationalWorkingWomensDay we marched for property rights, equal wage, against bonded labour and our bodily autonomy. Lahore came out in the 1000s. We thank you all!
Watch here in full: https://t.co/7S1TFl4q0L
— عورت مارچ لاہور – Aurat March Lahore (@AuratMarch) March 9, 2020
Social media can be considered as one of the popular reasons for the spread of this slogan (#Mera Jism Meri Marzi). The issue has heated up and now this matter has been raised in court-rooms. Although, it was unable to convince the judge. And he holds: “It is in this context, that the International Women’s day ought to be observed as a day of introspection. The petitioners and the society should show their abhorrence and outrage against the norms of certain sections of our society, which are in defiance of Islamic injunctions”.
Anyhow, some said, the very slogan is not only misunderstood in its literal sense but also largely taken out of the context. To them, it might be true: Not only what meaning do you have in your minds or context, but also the question arises how our society is perceiving it. And the next big question is why does the majority feel it against human dignity?
I too give weightage to this question. Although the courts-of-law gave the slogan (#Mera Jism Meri Marzi) as a clean-chit. Yet, could we ignore the majority of the people, while living in a democratic state, where the majority’s will and opinions are the only way to rule and regulate. Could we put it aside, how the majority holds dignity amid them? Could we, based on our acuteness, shrewdness, and perspicaciousness—which rarely found in a society of 59% literacy rate—ignore the mores and current social dignity?
Goerge Ketab in his book “Human Dignity” told us that “human dignity is perceived to be the basis for human rights”. He further tells us that “the core idea of human dignity is that on earth, humanity is the greatest type of beings—or what we call species because we have learned to see humanity as one of the species in the animal kingdom, which is made up of many other species along with our own—and that every member of the kingdom deserves to be treated in a manner consonant with the high worth of the species”.
Furthermore, at the core of dignity lies equality. How humanity differs from the animal kingdom; one of the topmost logical reason is equality. And among equality—in words of George Ketab—”feelings of injury and insult have mattered most, especially when they come together to impel a leap of consciousness, in which a quickened expectation of decent treatment is combined with a more definite feeling of what human dignity in some simple sense is owed”. Here, decency and morality are being emphasized as part and parcel of human dignity. Whether the slogan (#Mera Jism Meri Marzi) is decent and moral; the answer depends on the class of society as to how they perceive it.
Change of slogan (#Mera Jism Meri Marzi) is inevitable, if one deems society’s dignity more important to the individual one
However, here the majority class possess a 59% literacy rate. And to them, the slogan (#Mera Jism Meri Marzi) is antagonistic to human dignity. Yet, we can distinguish between the dignity of every human individual and the dignity of the human society as a whole. Those who are in favour of the slogan (#Mera Jism Meri Marzi) are considering dignity an individual subject, yet the society’s dignity outweighs the individual dignity.
Because as per the doctrine of proportionality or balancing defined by Prof. Aharon Barak in his book “Proportionality”, as considering the individual constitutional-fundamental right (in this case an individual dignity) whenever comes in the way to a public right (in this case the public’s view of dignity regarding the slogan), must be balanced and its prejudice to the other should be abandoned.
In our case, two rights: one, individual right to express (Article-19 of the Constitution of Pakistan) competes with the right to dignity (Article-14 of the Constitution of Pakistan). As per the balancing test: which one would be prejudiced most in your opinion? Whether the right to express or the right to dignity? The answer would be the right to dignity of society. Because dignity is inviolable and not subject to any limitation. Whereas, the right-to-expression has been controlled by almost eight to nine exceptions, including morality and dignity. So, dignity outweighs expression.
Although, the higher courts of the country have not banned the slogan (#Mera Jism Meri Marzi), yet the majority have found it altogether abhorrent and unethical against the mores and in its understanding of the society regarding their dignity. While reiterating here, our majority is not as much acute and good interpreters as the Aurat March organizers are.
Therefore, their humble views must not be set aside with such impunity. As the majority’s dignity is at stake, this slogan must be reshaped with a dignified manner, keeping in due regard to our majority acuteness and understanding. Lastly, we all in our childhood, read stories with morals: “All that glitters is not gold”; applying the same here too and as a natural corollary “All that is eye-catching for a specific audience can not be considered as a good slogan”. Therefore, change of slogan (#Mera Jism Meri Marzi) is inevitable, if one deems society’s dignity more important to the individual one.
Hafiz Muhammad Azeem is an advocate of the high court. He holds an LL.M. from the Punjab University and teaches law at Punjab Law College. He writes research-based articles on various topics and can be reached at khokhar.azeem@yahoo. com. His articles can be accessed on hmazeem.blogspot.com. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.