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Friday May 24, 2024

Aurat March organisers demand action after police maltreatment

To protest against the administration’s treatment, the Aurat March Islamabad organisers held an emergency press conference

By Myra Imran
March 10, 2024
A clash takes place between people during the Aurat March in Islamabad, on March 8, 2023, in this still taken from a video. — Geo News
A clash takes place between people during the Aurat March in Islamabad, on March 8, 2023, in this still taken from a video. — Geo News

ISLAMABAD: ‘Aurat March Islamabad’ organisers have sought a public apology from Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif for the ill-treatment of participants by the Islamabad administration on Friday.

The participants gathered in front of the National Press Club on March 8 for the annual Aurat March on International Women’s Day but the administration didn’t allow them to take their usual route towards the D-Chowk. The organisers claimed that the police pushed the participants including pregnant women, children and the elderly.

To protest against the administration’s treatment, the Aurat March Islamabad organisers held an emergency press conference on Saturday and called upon Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to take action against the police brutality and discrimination faced by the Aurat March supporters.

Those who addressed the gathering were Farzana Bari, Bariya Shah, Uzma Yaqoob and Fatima Atif who criticised denial of their rights to assemble and march towards D-Chowk.

“Despite our several attempts to obtain ‘No Objection Certificate’ from Islamabad District Administration, Aurat March had been denied NOC consequently for last five years, which means that state is now acting on its anti-Aurat March policy,” said a statement issued by the organisers.

Addressing the media, the organisers said that every year Aurat March Islamabad supporters face police brutality and violence in the form of baton charge, unwarranted obstruction and intimidation by the district administration and Islamabad Police.

“This year as well, we were pushed back by the police officers and lives of elderly women, pregnant mothers and women with disability were men-handled by the police itself. The police and administration’s action not only violate our constitutional rights but also undermine the principles of democracy and freedom of expression,” they said.

They said that IWD holds profound significance for women across the globe, serving as a reminder of the ongoing struggle for gender equality and justice. “By preventing us from exercising our democratic rights to protest peacefully, the authorities have displayed a blatant disregard for the voices and concerns of women in Pakistan. On the other hand, the administration provided full protocol and access to Haya Marchers which is mobilised every year by the state to prevent Aurat March Islamabad from happening,” they blamed.

The organisers demanded accountability for those responsible for threats against women marchers and an inquiry into why Haya Marchers were protected without an NOC while Aurat March was denied entry.

They called on women parliamentarians to investigate what happened and questioned Bilawal Bhutto for not condemning the Islamabad administration’s treatment.