Instep Today

Lending their voice to the cause

Instep Today
By Instep Desk
Tue, 03, 20

Aurat March, held on March 8th saw a strong turnout of high-profile celebrities.

Karachi’ picturesque Frere Hall was a sight to behold as women and men filled up the space, some holding placards noting: “I’m With Her’. Demographics for one were not a barrier as people of all age groups descended on the venue to rightfully ask for rights that should have been in place decades ago. 

“Society can be reluctant to hold celebrities accountable,” was a dialogue in a now-defunct series Rizzoli and Isles. It loves to watch them fall is also an undeniable truism. But perhaps the greatest one now is how the stars of today can lead by example. And some of them did, at least this Aurat March.

Aurat March, held on Sunday March 8th, is a much stronger example than Twitter teachings and the toxic reaction that almost always follows. It was held with a charter of demand and hopes to seek (1) an end to violence and sexual harassment, (2) economic justice, (3) reproductive rights (‘Mera Jism Meri Marzi’ was born of this very idea). Their Charter of Demand also asked for (4) environmental justice, (5) Right to the City (6) Minority Rights and an End to Forced Conversions, (7) Political Participation of Women, Transgender and Non-Binary People and (8) Sexist treatment of women, non-binary and transgender people in the media.

Brothers Adnan Malik (actor, director) and Saqib Malik (director) were seen at the Aurat March with actor Mira Sethi. Saqib was holding a placard saying “No More Zainabs” while Mira Sethi appealed for tolerance with “Open Arms/Open Minds/Open Yours.”

As they say, personal is political, and celebrities have a responsibility to have a voice, for a cause of their choice, to uplift a movement they believe in. Their reasons and causes may be varied, but their involvement endorses the cause they attach themselves to.

Here are some of the celebrities we spotted making important statements at the Aurat Marches in Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore...  

Pakistan’s biggest female superstar, Mahira Khan was also present at the Aurat March in Karachi, holding a placard that said, “Mujhe Burtary Nahin/Barabary Chahiye (I don’t want superiority; I want equality)”. Mahira also stood with the security forces tasked with the job of keeping the Aurat March safe from those who do not wish for it to happen.  

Aurat March is much more than an annual event. It has a tendency to bring out painful stories so others can learn and the future generation is taken off.

Case in point was Nadia Afghan’s placard that must have taken a great deal of courage for her to bring to Aurat March. It opens your eyes as it reads: “My uncle molested me at age 12. Nobody believed me.”

Leave it to Osman Khalid Butt, also known as OKB, to always be on the right side of things including defending his co-stars when trolled online, engaging in healthy debate and maintaining a sense of humour when need be. So, it doesn’t surprise us that OKB was present at the Aurat March with a placard that said, “It takes 1500 a month to educate an underprivileged girl. Donate. Educate. Empower. #SHEWILLRISE. He posted the picture on his social media and noted his donation is to The Citizen Foundation’s ‘Let’s Empower a Dream’ campaign and reinforced that no amount is too small.

Academy Award winner (twice), journalist and activist Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy held up a very pointed placard that underlined every woman’s fundamental right to having an identity as an individual before being recognized as someone’s mother, daughter, sister or wife. Touche, Sharmeen.