Thousands march across Pakistan to demand rights on Women’s Day

Islamabad, Mar 8 (efe-epa).- Thousands of women on Monday came out in demonstrations across Pakistan to demand their rights on the International Women’s Day, despite the usual threats from the conservative sections of the society for their alleged disrespect to Islam.

In Islamabad, around 500 people danced, chanted and marched along with the chants of “freedom!” and “my body my right” in the latest edition of the Aurat Azadi March (women’s freedom march), which has raised the heckles of conservative groups since its inaugural event in 2018.

“This year, yet again, women are coming out, in spite of the threats, in spite of the difficulties for women’s struggles all across this country,” Alia Amirali, one of the organizers of the march, told EFE.

The activist said that the majority of Pakistani women, most of them very poor, “suffer all kinds of violence,” a situation that they want to change through their protests.

This year, the feminists’ demands were focused on health due to the coronavirus pandemic, including the situation of health workers, who have had to face unprecedented challenges and the lack of funding for the healthcare sector, which – according to them – especially affects women.

Similar marches were also held in cities such as Karachi (south) and Lahore in the east.

Days earlier, the hashtag #ForegnFundedAuratMarch began trending on Twitter, with thousands of tweets, mostly by men, accusing the feminists of carrying out anti-Islamic and immoral acts by celebrating the women’s day, allegedly funded by foreign powers.

“The people who are participating in Aurat March are not liberals but belong to vulgar, corrupt, dishonest and agents of enemies of Islam and Pakistan,” said a user.

Another accused the women participating in the event of having “dirty thoughts,” without specifying how or why.

Despite a barrage of online insults, this time the situation did not escalate on the ground like last year, when Islamists had held a counter-protest and pelted stones on the women’s march, injuring three participants.

In Pakistan women suffer high levels of violence including rapes, killings and kidnappings according to nonprofit Amnesty International’s Human Rights in Asia-Pacific report. EFE-EPA


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