As the Aurat March 2022 approaches, the internet has been swept by a backlash against these “Western Movements” and “Foreign-funded organizations.” The “Aurat Azadi Jalsa” of the Aurat March Islamabad will pay honor to feminism and its achievements. On the other hand, on February 19th, Aurat March Lahore used its Twitter account to present its manifesto, which highlights the death penalty’s flaws and inefficiencies. Within hours, the hashtag #ZahirJaffer began trending on Twitter, with many people speculating on a link between Aurat March Lahore’s narrative about the death penalty and the period of the Noor Mukaddam case.
It’s important to recall that the family and friends of femicide victims in Pakistan favor the death sentence for the culprits. Furthermore, most Pakistani feminists believe that severe punishment, in addition to education and awareness, is required to deter predators. This is also why Pakistani feminists have frequently criticized the law and justice system in the nation for their ineptness in cases involving crimes against women.
Why is this movement problematic?
The act has not only enraged many Aurat March supporters, but it has also provided the opposing side with a pretext to the trash and dismiss the entire movement. Not to argue that the Aurat March is exclusively to blame, but the representation, or rather, misrepresentation, of this major movement has played a significant role in its low productivity throughout the country. Many Twitter users have pointed out that the Movement has neglected to speak out against the threat of Islamophobia to women’s freedoms of expression and speech, and that the Movement should focus on the freedom of all women, not only those who are given a platform to argue their rights. Because that would be the polar opposite of freedom, a freedom movement should avoid defining “freedom” for each individual.
Dr. Tasawar Hussain, Assistant Professor at Iqra University Islamabad emphasizes the importance of discourse analysis and its role in the emancipation of women. “There is an established record of social movements in their phenomenal achievements in history. What matters most is how intelligently or unintelligently they employ the language to challenge the existing culture and practices that may or may not mark the desired social change”, he said. In this respect, the radical language of the Aurat march might become counterproductive, which is exactly what we saw last year with the slogan “Mera Jisam Meri Marzi”.
After addressing the issues that have emerged from one side of the Aurat March, it goes without saying that the larger, more intense issues are the uninformed and misinformed masses who, due to a severe lack of rational thinking and good education, do not seem to comprehend the fundamental fact that all humans, regardless of gender, are mere humans who deserve equal rights and opportunities in every sphere of life, and anyone who agrees with this statement is a feminist.
How has the government failed us?
These people’s contempt for terminology like “feminist” and “liberal” demonstrates their lack of understanding of these historically significant socio-political movements. Our government, educational system, and media outlets have all failed to meet their responsibilities. Given that we live in the Information Age, the person who, while having the opportunity to research and inform himself, chooses to remain ignorant and become a keyboard warrior bears the brunt of the blame.
The Aurat March elicited a wide range of reactions, both positive and negative. Despite their success in stirring debate, raising awareness of Pakistan’s gender disparities, and garnering support from both domestic and international sources, the organizers and movement confront substantial but not insurmountable obstacles. Both parties must be adequately represented, have a sufficient degree of education to appreciate and articulate their points of view, and communicate in a language that the other party understands.
The writer is a Research Intern at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI). The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.