The UK Research Center hosted a dialogue on Saturday on “Understanding Slogans, Expression and Visualization: Aurat March & Beyond”, in which experts, women’s rights activists and Aurat March organizers discussed the slogans of the Aurat march and the future course of action.
Discussing arguably the most famous slogan “Mera Jism Meri Marzi” popularized by feminists during the March 8 Aurat march to demand bodily autonomy and protest against gender-based violence, dialogue participants said that some sectors of society, especially anti-feminist figures, criticized the slogan without understanding its true meaning and significance.
It was said that a specific newspaper deliberately associated the slogan with promoting sexual activities in Pakistan. The speakers complained that part of the media accused the organizers of the Aurat march of promoting vulgarity and the foreign agenda, which was completely malicious. The baseless campaign also brought FIRs against the organizers of the Aurat march and created several problems for them.
Ballet dancer and women’s rights activist Sheema Kermani said the campaign against the Aurat march showed the power of men to control society. “It’s all about control and power. Men decide when women should give birth without knowing their health status. Women have no say in family planning. Even women are not allowed to defend their own bodily rights.
She said women within the institution of marriage should have the right to defend their rights and they must be allowed to decide whether they are ready to give birth or not. The slogan “Mera Jism Meri Marzi” summed up women’s rights over their bodies, she added.
UKS manager Tasneem Ahmar said there were even progressives who thought some of the slogans raised during the Aurat march were problematic and organizers should have changed or at least rephrased them. She added, however, that powerful slogans compelled the company to lead discussions and initiate debates.
Another speaker said that last year she interviewed about 80 people and almost all of them said they told their parents about the false propaganda against the Aurat march. These people supported the slogans because they believed that such problems existed in our society.
Former HRCP co-chair Uzma Noorani said these slogans were very rational and were not written by the organizers of the Aurat march. She explained that march participants brought their own signs to the Aurat march because the organizers believed in freedom and inclusiveness.
Journalist Afia Salam said these slogans should not be changed according to the wish of a specific group, the majority of whom want male dominance in society.
The famous slogan “Lo Mai Beth Gai” was also mentioned. The speakers were of the opinion that in general in our society, parents tell their daughters how to sit at home and ride motorcycles, but they forget to think about women who work on farms in rural areas.
It was said that every slogan of the Aurat March reflected the injustices done to women in our society.
Speakers said those who insist on changing or rewording placard slogans should focus on raising awareness of injustices against women. They said well-planned propaganda was spread against the Aurat March organizers by a specific mindset that accused the Aurat March organizers of being Western agents and enemies of traditions. oriental.
It has been said that the opponents of the march in their public speeches said that the Aurat march was a foreign-funded movement and that its participants were not part of our society.
A speaker said that the themes covered by the Aurat march were not created by the organizers of the march but already existed.
Speakers at the event also discussed the possibility of turning the Aurat March into a political movement at the current stage. A majority of participants agreed that after the emergence of Aurat March, at least some debate had started on women’s issues.
The Aurat March has the potential to change society and could be turned into a nationwide movement, but it would take time, it was said.