Sunday, March 8, 2020
Demonstrators belonging to Islamist groups attacked an International Women's Day rally in the Pakistani capital Islamabad on Sunday, hurling rocks, chunks of mud and even their shoes. The demonstrators, who were at a rival rally held by hardline Islamist organizations, were particularly enraged by one slogan the women's day rally adopted: "mera jism, mera marzi" – "my body, my choice."
Riot police set up large cloth barricades to dive the rival rallies, which flanked either side of a main road. But the police were also there to protect the women's day protesters, after the hardline men and women threatened violence.
As the protest was winding down, dozens of men tried to push through the barricade, including a man who held a little girl aloft on his shoulders. According to a video uploaded to Twitter by a BBC reporter, police used batons to push them back. Still, for the next few minutes, they hurled projectiles that scattered the women's day protesters, as journalists huddled behind concrete road dividers.
The hardline groups, their surrogates and conservative talking heads, took to the airwaves preceding the rally to condemn Pakistani feminists, accusing them of encouraging anti-Islamic vulgarity by raising a slogan that hinted that a woman had the right to do as she pleased.
The tensions even boiled over on a live talk show, where a screen writer swore at a prominent Pakistani liberal after she interrupted him by chanting the slogan. "Nobody would even spit on your body," he shouted in a clip widely shared on social media.
Conservative lawyers petitioned the courts in Pakistan's three cities to try ban the women's marches. One prominent Islamist opposition leader, known as Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman, threatened protesters on Feb. 29, warning them not to chant "my body, my choice." "God willing, we will also come out into the streets, and we will destroy you," he warned. And a senior teacher at Jamiat Hafsa, a hardline women's seminary in the Pakistani capital, told NPR her students would halt the march by organizing a rival "modesty march."
"This is a march to stop that march," said the woman, who uses the name Bint Azwa (the women at the seminary often use first names or fake names to avoid being identified by security institutions that monitor their activities). "We are not going to let those women march the streets of our country, our neighborhood, with those vulgar chants."
The violence underscored how hardline Islamist groups played upon conservative outrage over the slogan "my body, my choice," to assert their presence in the Pakistani capital – and demonstrate their muscle.The opposition leader Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman has struggled to find a toehold in Pakistan's freewheeling politics since his party was forced into opposition. The hardline Jamiat Hafsa was violently shut down in 2007, after a standoff that killed more than 100 people. The women returned to the seminary only this February, and have dared security forces to remove them again.On Sunday, dozens of the seminary women turned up at the counter-rally, clad in long black robes, headscarves and face veils, segregated from dozens of men who stood in a nearby park. They stood in military-style rows, their fearsome appearance only jarred by blue, green and pink bows pinned to their shoulders, to identify which bus they should return on, explained one 25-year-old, who only gave her first name, Rubina."We don't want women to make choices for their bodies. The choice rests with God," she said. Nodding toward the women's day march, she described the women there as "naked." "These people don't even wear dupatas," she exclaimed, referring to the shawl that Pakistani women traditionally drape across their chests to signify modesty.
On the other side, at the women's march, hundreds of men, women and transgender Pakistanis clustered. Some waved the red flag of a leftist party. Others held up signs, including "my body, my choice," but they denounced so-called "honor" killings, where men murder their female relatives for bringing alleged shame onto the family. Some demanded to know the fate of female political activists who mysteriously disappeared.
"Pakistan is getting more and more divided over time," said Ambreen Gilani, a 41-year-old development consultant, gesturing to the Islamists across the road. The opposition to the women's march helped motivate another protester to turn up, Sukaina Kazmi, a chemical engineer. She gestured to her Muslim headscarf, "Our religion does not teach us any of the things they are standing up against, our religion actually does fight for women's rights," she said.
As the protesters regrouped and walked away from the dozens of men trying to assault them, one organizer, Anam Rathor, said the violence underscored why they were demonstrating. "This proves our point, and this movement is growing. And now we will have more people. The reason why they are throwing stones is because they are afraid of us and that makes us happy." https://www.npr.org/2020/03/08/813443312/international-womens-day-with-shoes-and-stones-islamists-disrupt-pakistan-rally
#AuratAzadiMarch #AuratMarch2020 #AuratMarchIslamabad - #Pakistan's Women's March: Shaking patriarchy 'to its core'
Young activists and their older counterparts explain why they are uniting to fight for women's rights in Pakistan.
Thousands of women have marched across Pakistan's main urban centres to mark International Women's Day.
CITING SURVEYS OF 75 COUNTRIES FROM 2010-2014, REPORT CLAIMS MAJORITY OF GLOBAL POPULATION HOLDS SOME PREJUDICE AGAINST WOMEN
Nearly 90 percent of the world’s population, regardless of gender, holds at least one bias against women, according to apublished on Thursday ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8.
The United Nations Development Program ranked 75 countries representing 80 percent of the world’s population and found that nine in 10 people, including women, held some degree of prejudice against women. The results are based on two rounds of a World Values Survey conducted between 2005 and 2014.
According to the report, the most common prejudiced views are that men are better politicians and business leaders than women; that going to university is more important for men than women; that men should get preferential treatment in competitive job markets. The percentage of those holding at least one sexist bias was largest in Pakistan—where 99.81 percent of the population held such prejudices—followed by Qatar and Nigeria, both at 99.73 percent. Neighboring India has 98.28 percent of the population holding at least one bias against women.
Countries with the lowest population of those with sexist beliefs were Andorra, at 27.01 percent, Sweden with 30.01 percent and the Netherlands with 39.75 percent. France, Britain and the United States each came in with similar scores, 56 percent, 54.6 percent and 57.31 percent of people, respectively, hold at least one sexist belief.
The numbers show “new clues to the invisible barriers women face in achieving equality” despite “decades of progress,” the U.N. Development Program said in a statement accompanying the report. “The work that has been so effective in ensuring an end to gaps in health or education must now evolve to address something far more challenging: a deeply ingrained bias—among both men and women—against genuine equality,” UNDP administrator Achim Steiner said.
The report noted that information on how bias is changing in around 30 countries shows that while in some countries there have been improvements, in others attitudes appear to have worsened in recent years. This suggests, says the report, that progress cannot be taken for granted.
The agency has called on governments and institutions to change discriminatory beliefs and practices through education. Beyond inequalities in education, health and the economy, the statement also called out one of the report’s most chilling findings: 28 percent of people globally believe it is okay for a man to beat his wife.