Since 2018, marches have taken place in Pakistan’s main cities to promote awareness of women’s rights. Authorities in Lahore made the call because of the “controversial cards and banners” that will be exhibited at the march. In a notice to march organizers, the authorities also highlighted security concerns.
“That’s an infringement on our civil liberties. This makes one wonder how well the state can regulate the freedom of assembly for both groups “AFP was able to speak with Hiba Akbar, one of the organizers of the Lahore Women’s March (Aurat). Even though the Aurat March in Lahore has been banned, the religious organization, Haya March scheduled for the same day may be carried out.
In response to repeated attempts to outlaw the annual Aurat March in Pakistan particularly in Lahore, its organizers have repeatedly resorted to filing lawsuits in order to keep the event from being suppressed. While the organizers of the Aurat March have been accused of promoting Western, liberal ideas and disregarding religious and cultural sensibilities in Pakistan, the protests have in the past brought up topics including divorce, sexual harassment, and menstruation.
Do read our article: Aurat March 2023 in Karachi on March 12
The human rights organization Amnesty International blasted the ruling, stating that it “amounts to an unconstitutional and unjustified limitation of the freedom to assemble.” The Aurat March in Islamabad has been relegated to the city park for the time being.
The petition claims that the march is organized and led exclusively by volunteer individuals; it has no affiliations with NGOs, political parties, or companies. “With time, women and trans individuals from all walks of life came together to advocate for equal rights in society. The yearly Aurat March event has traditionally attracted journalists, attorneys, physicians, artists, engineers, homemakers, trade union activists, students, and students.”
In a statement released by the organizers of the march in Islamabad, they declared, “We are a feminist movement, and we will not be in parks but rather on the streets.”