People are furious on social media after news broke that the Aurat March was cancelled in Faisalabad. Netizens are calling out the authorities, specifically the Faisalabad assistant commissioner, who allegedly did not give the organisers permission to march.
The march — which was set to take place on August 1 — was organised in Faisalabad to "stand in solidarity with all women seeking justice", inviting everyone to join and "demand [women's] rightful place in society".
The organisers of the march — mainly students and their teachers — had launched a social media campaign to bolster support for the event. They had also applied to the district administration to obtain a no objection certificate (NOC) in order to hold the march on Sunday.
According to human rights and political activist Ammar Ali Jan, the event was cancelled because the "Assistant commissioner Faisalabad threatened to arrest organisers and called young female students to intimidate them".
"It's a blatant example of how the state suppresses women's movements," he added.
Many took to social media to call out the local authorities' discriminatory and and repressive behaviour towards the organisers and their cause.
One user took to Twitter and wrote, "AC Faisalabad today coerced the Aurat March Faisalabad organisers to postpone the the event. During the hours long meeting he repeatedly said 'rape does not happen without consent these days' and 'women aren't this oppressed in Pakistan'".
Another tweeted, "Women were not allowed to protest against the brutal murder of Noor Muqadam in Faisalabad today because AC thought it was Noor’s fault somehow that she was murdered. He not only refused to grant NOC but threatened of grave consequences if the protest was held."
A campaign against the assistant commissioner has been started on social media to pressure the authorities into allowing the protesters to exercise their constitutionally given right to protest. A Twitter user requested everyone to "retweet and please spread the hashtag #ShameOnACFsd so we can have this march as soon as possible".
One user posted the hashtag and tweeted, "Isn't it ironic how a man told us that women have all the rights yet took away our right to march?"
Another tweeted and said, "“Are you ok?” No bro I live in a city where you can’t even march for your rights peacefully."
"Are these the rights of women in Pakistan!?" read a post on Twitter." We can’t even hold a peaceful protest?"
One user asked, "Why is suppressing women's voices so important for Pakistani authorities?"
"Aurat march just got cancelled in Faisalabad because the AC thinks Noor got murdered because she wasn't 'careful enough' #ShameonACfsd," another user wrote.
Organisers of Aurat March Faisalabad had also intended to pay tribute to Noor Mukadam, the 27-year-old who was brutally murdered in Islamabad on July 21. They had posted a charter of demands online ahead of the march which called for an end to — amongst other things — all forms of gender-based violence, especially violence against women, and other gender minorities by patriarchal institutions and forces.