International Women's Day march banned in Pakistan

International Women's Day march banned in Pakistan< /p> UPDATE DAY

The authorities of Lahore, a city in eastern Pakistan, have banned the demonstration planned for International Women's Day on March 8, which is regularly the subject of strong reactions in this conservative and patriarchal country.< /strong> 

In a message to organizers on Friday evening, Lahore authorities justified their decision on the pretext of the “controversial signs and banners” commonly displayed by participants in the march – called Aurat – and security concerns.

< p>Since 2018, marches have been held in major cities in Pakistan to draw attention to women's rights.

Religious groups often organize counter-protests called “Haya (modesty)”, asking for the preservation of Islamic values. They have been maintained this year.

“It is a violation of our rights. This raises questions about the ability of the state to manage the right to freedom of assembly for both groups,” Hiba Akbar, an organizer of the Aurat march from Lahore, told AFP.

Accused by critics of promoting Western and liberal values ​​and failing to respect religious and cultural sensitivities, organizers of the Aurat March in Pakistan have often had to resort to legal action to counter attempted bans.

During these rallies, the signs held up by the participants address topics such as divorce, sexual harassment and even menstruation.

Much of Pakistani society operates according to a code of “honor” governing the lives of women, whether in the right to choose their husband, to have children or to study. 

Each year, hundreds of women are killed by men for matters of “honor”.

For Amnesty International, the decision of the authorities in Lahore “constitutes an illegal and unnecessary restriction of the right to assembly”.

Invoking problems of authorities in the capital Islamabad relegated the women's march to a city park where a woman was gang-raped in February.

“We are a feminist movement, we don't we will not be in the parks, but rather in the streets”, warned the organizers in a press release.

In 2020, groups of Islamist men had thrown stones at the women taking part in the march.