Before you get all worked up about Aurat March, read what it stands for
With the Aurat March approaching this International Women's Day (March 8), many across the country are gearing up to participate.
The haters are ready to troll, the keyboard warriors are fueled to defend, the determined are painting their anger on to posters; and the believers are making sure everyone around them understands why they march.
Midst this chaos, organisers of the Aurat March have decided to do some explaining of their own.
For the layperson reader who thinks the cause is elitist, useless, and most of all shameless, here is the A-Z politics of what it means to be fighting for economic, reproductive, and environmental justice.
A - Azaad
Like every year, the march advocates for azaadi. The freedom to walk in public spaces without being harassed, or to drive around without being catcalled. The freedom to have a political voice, the freedom to regulate their own bodies, and most importantly, the freedom to exist without being shamed, insulted or abused for every choice women make for themselves.
B - Behnchara
The concept of sisterhood stems from empathy and compassion. There is support for those who have suffered and felt the same, and there is dialogue for those women, non-binary and trans folks who might not have the same idea of patriarchy and are open to conversation. Bhenchara advocates for inclusive feminism.
C - Casual sexism
When an uncle jokes about getting a second wife, when a friend jokes about your place in the kitchen, when a family member says itna parh ke kya karna hai jab aakhir mein bachay hee sambhalnay hain - it is an insult to women who work, women who stay home, and women who want loyal partners as the bare minimum. Casual sexism is not okay.
D - Divorced and Happy
A divorced woman is a greater stigma than a divorced man, even though both of them have a relationship breakdown at their hands. According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, 47% of married women have experienced sexual abuse, particularly domestic rape. Is a depressed, loveless, toxic marriage where children are constant witness to violence and trauma, better than no marriage at all? Lets do better.
E - Encroachment
Without adequate relocation and alternate means to sustenance, the anti-encroachment drive is in reality only anti-poor. It is a form of violence inflicted on those who do not have the means or power to defend themselves. The Aurat March demands an end to this cruelty in the name of development; it demands basic shelter and food for every human being regardless of race or class.
F - Feminism
Catcalled on the streets, harassed and victimised in the four walls that they call home, and underrepresented in workplaces - yet, the aurat is the besharam? Feminism is a movement for the social, economic, and political justice for all genders and across all ethnicities, races and class. Why is that so threatening?
G - Gaaliyan
Most abuses in our society are meant to demean women and trans bodies. A woman's genitals, a trans folk's existence, yet even the act of dressing up in bangles is mocked and ridiculed when two men need to put each other down. About time this ends.
H - Harassment
If you are catcalled when you walk on the streets, if you are touched in public inappropriately, if you are groped then ridiculed and blamed for 'letting it happen', and if you are called a liar and dramatic for coming out with your struggle, the march is for you. The shame is always with the offender and never the victim. The march demands an end to harassment.
I - Insaan
Women are killed, beaten and controlled in the name of honor; and sister, mother and daughter are few of the labels used to justify that violence. The march demands an end to these compartmentalizations and to let women be viewed as human beings, at the least.
J - Jabr
Coercion. It is what leads to oppression and violence under the system of patriarchy. The Aurat March condemns this control of women's autonomy and demands an end to this torture.
K - Khwajasira
Trans folks have an identity different from that assigned to them at birth. They are different from intersex folks who do not fit typical definitions of male or female bodies. The Aurat March advocates that every trans and non-binary person is included in educational institutes, workplaces, voting and healthcare facilities.
L - Lo beth gayi sahi se
Why are people telling us how to sit, again? Failure to let our bodies be controlled leads to being demeaned and slut-shamed. Knees pressed together, shirts pulled down, voices hushed and 'ladylike' postures without complaining about the double standards when men manspread in public. 'Honour' is not restricted to a woman's genitals and doesn't rest on her shoulders. Let that sink in.
M - Mera jism meri marzi
Why is it that wanting bodily autonomy is automatically equated to parading naked in the streets? This means that women should be allowed to decide when they want to be intimate with their partners, have kids, when, if, how many, and be able to wear what they want without fear of someone tearing it off or finding excuses to touch them through. Sounds like basic humanity, doesn't it?
N - No means no
Do not try to convince, manipulate, joke, or persist your way into discomfort. Enough with "She's playing hard to get." Consent is important - no means no.
O - Ovarian cancer
Around 13.6 percent of women have been suffering from ovarian cancer, which comes second to breast cancer. The Aurat March demands greater access to healthcare, and more female doctors to be able to practice without the fear of ghar kon samhalay ga.
P - Person with disabilities
An inclusive policy-making for access to education, healthcare and recreation. Make Pakistan accessible to all.
Q - Qandeel
If you do not agree with someone, hit unfollow. A woman making videos on social media is NOT more dangerous than a man roaming free in the streets ready to murder who he doesn't agree with. Qandeel is the representation of women being themselves and being murdered for it. Put an end to honour killing.
R - Reverse sexism
The system that is designed at the convenience for, and to facilitate the existence of men, is not suppressing them. We can't stand in the tandoor ki line because men harass us, not because we don't want to. Lets not pretend there is any fun attached to this dependency.
S - Sanwali
The Aurat March demands an end to colourism that has destroyed the lives of those forced to constantly scrub their skin with whitening creams, in order to be accepted in society. We don't need totkay, we need freedom from this ingrained colonial mindset that white is the only standard of beauty. Brown is beautiful, about time we embrace it.
T - Tou kare tou stud, mein karoon tou slut
What is considered immoral for women is any degree of freedom that threatens to undermine the patriarchy. However, men are not weighed at the same pedestal, but are expected to behave in such a manner. The Aurat March demands an end to these double standards.
U - Unsolicited Flashing
A degree of sexual harassment that removes women from public spaces by making them uncomfortable. There are messages and unsolicited pictures of genitals flooding our inboxes, and live flashes during public transport and pedestrian bridges. March to put an end to this!
V - Victim Blaming
Rape is about power, violence, and control. A woman's clothes, her environment, her entire existence can not and should not be blamed for it. Rape is always the fault of the oppressor - never the fault of the victim. Aurat march demands an end to the victim blaming.
This is a developing story