Plans for women's march in Pakistan triggers right-wing backlash


A plan by rights organisations to stage all-female walks in Pakistan has triggered backlash from right-wing groups who demanded that the groups halt the "obscene" event. 

The Aurat March, organised to celebrate International Women's Day on 8 March, has become the country's largest rights activity in last two years, attracting tens of thousands of participants.

Islamic groups and right-wing political parties oppose the march because they believe women are entitled to the rights prescribed within the confines of Islam. 

An Islamic political group on Thursday announced it would stage a counter-event called the Modesty March, saying members of its female party wing would participate – wearing veils.

"Our society is different from the West," the Jamaat-e-Islami party said, announcing their own march. "Our women should not demand anything other than what Islam has envisaged for them."

Opposition to the march intensified after last year's event included slogans like "My body, my choice", "My body is not your battleground" and "Stop being menstrual-phobic".

"Anything challenging patriarchy in the male-dominated society is sure to generate a reaction," said organiser Marvi Sirmad.

The controversy intensified this week when a fiction writer used abusive language against Sirmad in a live television debate, triggering bitter social media commentary. A group of female seminary students who oppose marches because they believe it is against Islam defaced murals about the event in the capital Islamabad.

A court in central Pakistan this week rejected an appeal calling on authorities to stop the march, but judges asked organisers to adhere to the principles of modesty and decency.    (dpa)


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