Associated Press Service
International Women’s Day was observed today on the occasion of International Women’s Day
Nyla Raja, a well-known young lawyer and social media personality,speaking to the Associated Press Service, said that “WOMEN” in Pakistan will be silent no more. Each year on March 8, International Women’s Day, their voices come together in an ever louder crescendo to demand that their inherent, constitutionally protected rights to dignity, and to security in the private and public domains be upheld. At the same time, while doing so, they are reminded in no uncertain terms of the long road that lies ahead before gender equality comes anywhere within reach of the vast number of their compatriots in the country. As the right-wing in Pakistan grows ever more emboldened in the face of appeasement by the state, their path has become increasingly treacherous — and twisted.
She said in response to a question ever since the Aurat March has evolved into a defining event to mark the day, it has grown starkly clear there is no tolerance for women collectively demanding their rights in such a visible and inclusive way, even when they do so entirely peacefully. For they threaten the edifice of the patriarchy from which flow so many advantages that many men take for granted in conservative societies like ours. Naila Raja said that status quo enables them to prey on women in the public space, treat female family members as chattel, beat them and abuse them, and in extreme cases, even kill them in the name of ‘honour’ — far too often without any accountability whatsoever. And the biggest travesty is that groups which have no compunction committing violence — including murder — in the name of faith, are ready with bogus arguments about the march being contrary to tradition and religious principles. However, truth be told, the misogynistic heart of Pakistani society is laid bare not in the threats and intimidation from these purveyors of hate.
She added that this is why March 8 is so relevant for women in Pakistan. For, despite all the ‘pro-women’ laws that have been enacted over the last few years, their rights in actual practice remain circumscribed by narrow mindsets and hidebound tradition. In such a place, for a murderer to cast aspersions on his female victim’s character can be a viable strategy; and here, a court can set an honour killer free on appeal largely because he did not expressly say he took his sister’s life for the sake of honour. One step forward and two steps back. The women of Pakistan have had enough. She said that the need is that they will make themselves heard. And it is the government’s duty to see they come to no harm while doing so.