They Are Threatening Us But We Are Not Afraid

Laiba Zainab
Posted March 10, 2020 from Pakistan
Aurat March Pakistan
Women of Pakistan Are Resisting Against Oppression

Pakistan is not the same since 2018 because we saw "Aurat March" (Women's March) rebranded on March 8, 2018 in three major cities of Pakistan (Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad) which challenged patriarchal norms in this country to the extent that previously women related issues which were brushed under the carpet, started making rounds on mainstream and social media. Few placards of this march went viral on social media and were widely discussed on electronic media too. The statements mentioned on those placards played role of a shock factor for a conservative society like ours in Pakistan. "Apna Khana Khud Garam Karo" which means warm up your own food, was one of the most viral placards on social media. This slogan was raised against the notion that only women are responsible for household tasks. We have reported cases in our country where fathers have killed their daughters for not making round bread and husbands have killed their wives for not serving them warm food. A large number of people in my home country thought that this placard is against the norms and values of our country. Some argued that this is against the most popular religion in Pakistan-Islam. The organisers, participants and supporters of this march were targeted. They were threatened, harassed and targeted. I made a video stating my point of view in this regard, which obviously was in favour of this statement. That was the first time when I faced unlimited online bullying. They not only targeted and abused me but character assassinated me and my family too. My mental health was impacted to the extent that within three days I had to turn off the notifications of that post.

 

In 2019, number of participants in these marches increased. I took part in this march too. I was in federal capital of the country, Islamabad. I covered that march as a journalist for a digital platform and was a participant at the same time. The most viral placard this time stated "Mera Jism, Meri Marzi, which simply means My Body, My Choice. Now in a country where women are raped, harassed, beaten, acid attacked, where even their dead bodies are not safe from rapists, this statement was not understood in its essence. People interpreted it as a revolt against norms of society and interpreted it as, "Women want to roam on streets without putting on clothes and want to have as much sex as they want with as many people as they want". The girl who made this placard, the organisers, the participants and the ones who support this movement of women's rights explained it multiple times by write ups, videos, print and electronic media that all it means is bodily autonomy and women's bodies should not be violated. This also meant that consent is important. But a country which is majorly lead by conservative mindset, these explanations were not enough. They once again bashed everyone who spoke in favour of this bodily autonomy.

 

This year, women, men, transgenders, non binary folks and other gender minority community members took part in "Aurat March" in at-least 11 big and small cities of Pakistan. This year we had open threats from some religious political parties and people with conservative mindset. Despite all the backlash women took lead and wrote history. There were thousands of people in these marches who raised slogans and placards, they not only reclaimed their public spaces but also demanded from state that their constitutional and legal rights should be given to them. Some religious goons attacked this march in federal capital of Pakistan, Islamabad, but the attendees didn't step back even an inch and faced everything. 

This revolutionary movement is once again being targeted in this country, being an organiser of this march in Multan, a city in South Punjab, the same territory which where once Qandeel Balouch (a social media celebrity who was killed in the name of honour by her brother) lived and from where Mukhtara Mai (a women who was gang raped and never got justice in its essence) belong to, I am receiving death, rape and acid attack threats along with organisers from all over the country. We are once again facing all these attacks on digital as well as public spaces. Our lives, along with those of participants and supporters, are in danger but we believe that we belong to resistance. Women all over the world are fighting for their rights and despite being bashed by men and women, we are not stepping back.

We celebrated this women's day by organising and participating in Aurat March to show the world that we are fighting for our rights, we are out in solidarity with each and every person who is oppressed and there is no way that we are going back to where we were in this country.

Long Live resistance!

Comments 16

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Shirin Dalaki
Mar 10
Mar 10

Dear Laiba,
Thank you for sharing your story and what is going on in Pakistan. Together we stand strong and celebrate our womanhood.

Shirin

Chidimma
Mar 10
Mar 10

Thank You for sharing your story. Women and strong and nobody can oppress us. We stand firm with in prayers.

Atiq
Mar 10
Mar 10

More power to you, Laiba. I am proud I was around you.
It was really worth doing. We will continue making difference the whole year and will come out with more power next time.

Metiege Noel Eve
Mar 11
Mar 11

Thanks for sharing sis

Ariane Assumani
Mar 11
Mar 11

Bonjour ma soeur merci pour avoir partager cette histoire qui est très bénéfique pour tous. Au plaisir de vous lire à la prochaine

Ariane Assumani
Mar 11
Mar 11

Bonjour ma soeur merci pour avoir partager cette histoire qui est très bénéfique pour tous. Au plaisir de vous lire à la prochaine

Kika Katchunga
Mar 11
Mar 11

Hello
Very inspired by the title, so deep, With this determination that read on this article; I hope one day to victory. Thank you for sharing with us

lizzymark
Mar 11
Mar 11

Hi sis,hope you are good. Your match out is a great idea its another way to lift our voices so its heard. Wish you success.

Tumanjong Miranda
Mar 12
Mar 12

Dear Laiba,
I really admire your courage and your determination.
We stand with you sister.
I pray for your safety and all who are in this fight with you.
Thanks for sharing.
Hope you are safe/good!
Mich love.

Queen Sheba D Cisse
Mar 12
Mar 12

Dear Laiba,
I applaud you on your courage to stand up and speak out. Together we women can, will and ARE creating change in a male dominated cruel society. The good thing is we can witness small amounts of changes because we are spreading awareness and some men are supporting us step by step.
Thank you for sharing your story and raising awareness to the issues unfortunately centuries old.

Sis Queen

marsieve
Mar 12
Mar 12

Thank you for having the courage to share this story. Please know that you have the admiration and support of women around the world for what you believe in and are standing up for.

hgranado
Mar 12
Mar 12

Thank you for sharing your story and the stories of so many brave women in Pakistan! What an inspiration to see you fighting for your rights and against societal abuse. I wish you continued progress and safety as you give voice to those who cannot fight for themselves!

Shimaa
Mar 12
Mar 12

give you my full support

Tamarack Verrall
Mar 13
Mar 13

Dear Laiba,
This is the power of World Pulse, that journalists like you can let us all know about the profound courage of women in the streets in your country these past few years, and of the coalition in the streets this year, "women, men, transgenders, non binary folks and other gender minority community members took part in "Aurat March" in at-least 11 big and small cities of Pakistan". What courage! The slurs you describe are so vicious and familiar, the misinterpretation of what simple freedoms we are working for. International news media get fixated on a few stories, when it is stories like yours that deserve reporting. May you and all those leading the way stay safe. I hope that you feel surrounded by the love of your World Pulse sisters. I hope that we can collectively find ways to create safety thanks to your courage to be in the streets, and to write.

malarai
Mar 14
Mar 14

In solidarity and sisterhood.

ARREY- ECHI
Mar 16
Mar 16

Hello Laiba,
Sorry for all that you are facing.
This is indeed courageous for you all.
Please be safe so that you can continue to empower women and drive positive change.