Aurat March 2019 was one of the foremost exciting feminist events in recent years. Its absolute scale, magnitude, diversity, and inclusivity were unparalleled. Women belonging to various social classes, regions, religions, ethnicities, and groups came together on a customary platform to protest the numerous patriarchies that control, limit, and oblige their self-expression and basic rights. From home-based workers to teachers, from transgender to celebrities — all protested in their unique and innovative ways. Men and boys in tow, carrying supportive placards, and the marchers reflected unity within diversity, rarely seen in Pakistan’s polarized and divisive social landscape.
Carried out in many cities across Pakistan, the march took both its supporters and detractors all of sudden. Nobody expected such a huge and gigantic turnout and in numerous cities with truth-laden and daring placards. The intensity of the sarcasm seen within the backlash to the march testifies to its huge success — it certainly managed to hit patriarchy where it hurts.
Aurat March 2019 also marks an unusual turn from the former articulations of feminism in Pakistan. It might not be far-fetched to remark that it initiated a replacement to introduce feminism, qualitatively different from the sooner movements for women’s rights. While the former expressions of feminism laid the motivation for what we see today, the new shift of feminist politics from attention on the general public domain to the private one – from the state and therefore the society to home and family – manifests nothing in need of a revolutionary impulse. Feminism in Pakistan has come aged because it unabashedly emphasizes that the private is political which the patriarchal divide between the general public and therefore the private is eventually false.
Pakistan also inherited many social matters – like polygamy, purdah, child marriage, inheritance, divorce, and the right to education – from the pre-partition times. Many of the trauma for social and legal reforms on these issues were acceptable even within the bounds of belief. So, there was no fear of girls upsetting the applecart once they asked for these reforms.
Members of Aurat March in Karachi holding a representational funeral of patriarchy | Shakil Adil, White Star. Even the tiny changes repeatedly stirred public controversy with clerics clamoring for the reversal of the ordinance.
The communal, political, and historical context of every former sort of feminism was diverse and therefore the feminist problems with each period arose from particular moments in national and global histories. Within the initial years of Pakistan’s formation, the injuries inflicted by the bloodstained Partition were fresh. Women activists were focused on welfare matters, like the rehabilitation of refugees because that sort of labor had social respectability within the normal culture.
Though the play cards were daring in the opinion of most individuals the pictorial words were quite off. So it was a hot topic with a cold war genre.