What is defined as a woman in Pakistan? More than half of the people in Pakistan will define it as someone who would wake up at 8 am to start with the house chores, clean the house, cook food, take care of all the necessary work before her husband arrives because why? She has been forced into the marriage. She would anxiously wait for her husband to come home and beat her, till he is done venting out his day’s anger. Her family won’t say anything when she is being beaten up, sexually abused, and raped but will definitely point her out when she decides to stand up for her right.
So tell me again, what is a woman? A woman is a candy bar that you can have whenever you feel you are feeling low? Or is she your favorite salad for lunch or favorite dinner bite? Referring to the incidents of how women are treated in the country, this definition wouldn’t be wrong.
From time immemorial, I think Pakistan has been labelled as a patriarchal society that enables men to dominate women. The idea of men leading a woman’s life has been hammered into their skull in such a way that men of these women have just accepted it as their destiny. In a society where men are treated as primary authority figures and women are labelled as their subordinates leave no way out for such women but to fight.
Similarly, when women in Pakistan decide to stand up against the prevailing unfairness taking tolls in the country, in the form of murder, rape, child marriages, anti-women cultural practices, and most importantly, the so-called ‘honor killings,’ people do not take a second to shove them off.
As per the reports, it is noted that about 60 to 70 percent of women suffer some form of abuse, and approximately 5000 women meet death as their destiny from the emerging domestic violence. And yes, this is just an estimation of women who die physically. What incidents of rape and sexual harassment do to a woman’s mind can not be written in words, as the trauma lasts for life.
The ultra-conservative and hypocrite society of Pakistan often invoke our women by a famous saying, “a woman most appropriately belongs to her veil and within the four walls of her home.” Still, my question is, do these so-called extremist groups assure the safety of women in their own house?
With every passing day, Pakistan is facing an expansion in the impudent of rape cases from almost every region of the country. So much so, any rape case making its rounds on the news or social media has now become a habitual regime of our daily lives. All that much, the idea of feeling unsafe has been hammered into the thick skull of our country’s women.
As per a report published by the World Economic Forum (WEF), which ranked the countries according to the Global Gender Gap for the year 2020, ranked Pakistan as 151 out of 153 countries, scoring the second last position, indicated a dismal record on human rights for women in the country, moreover, the position also proved how weak and underdeveloped our justice system is, especially for our women.
However, when these women stand up for their rights, take a stand against all the prevailing violence, fight for their unserved freedom, and choose freedom over fear, they are often targeted by the hypocritical extremists living in our society. Over the past decades, I think terrorism sits at the common denominator of toxic and violent misogyny, fueled by deep abiding hatred and prejudice against women. And no, it just does not end there. These extremist mindsets work by misusing and distorting religious interpretations and cultural values to selectively impose only certain kinds of roles based on gender; if it suits it, then it’s fine. Otherwise, the rest can be nullified by wish or force – mostly forced.
Hence, there it was born, the Aurat March.
It was all originated in 2018, when ordinary women, along with the feminists, collectively decided to stand under the banner “Hum Aurtain.” Although these women stood together for international Women’s Day initially, the active call for women of all backgrounds later became known as the ‘Aurat March’ to help bring about political action on women’s rights and gender justice.
As per the statistics, Pakistan comprises 48.8% women, making it a whole of 101,314,780 women, in a 207,774,520 population of Pakistan.
The women’s rights movement in Pakistan is gaining momentum due to the country’s ongoing injustices, and the awareness has increased to a great magnitude. Therefore, the opposition from the conservative groups has also increased manifold in the past few years.
The country’s increased rape incidents have forced these women in the right way to fight for their rights. For instance, the recent motorway incident raised questions worldwide and caused people to come out in the streets as a protest to find the culprits. One of the top police officials there had the audacity to blame the woman again for travelling along in the dark.
I mean, what?
When women take their discontent with the state and the society to public spaces and defy their boundaries set for them, they either face a backlash by people of their own gender or the opposite. Aurat March comprises women who finally decide to stand against the societal norms of pure disgust. Such actions are born out of pure frustration and anger that originates from years of being subjected to violence, oppression, and objectification in the state’s hands. Instead of forcing our women to not come out into the street and protest in the name of the “Aurat march,” it would be a lot better for the country to find the actual culprits who give fuel to the fire.
I feel that women were, are, and will always remain the pride of our country, and there is nothing that can change that.