LAHORE – As thousands of women are planning to rally in the country’s cultural capital on March 8 to mark International Women’s Day, the district administration of the metropolis has denied permission for the public rally citing security threats.
Every year, a large number of women, mostly from the country’s upper class, hit the streets in several cities for political action on women’s rights and gender justice, with slogans from the events remaining in the limelight as many labeled them provocative.In recent developments, Lahore’s Deputy Commissioner Rafia Haider has reportedly turned down permission to organise the Aurat March citing security concerns, provocative banners, and chances of clashes with members of the ‘Haya March’, which will be held by the political right-wing party.
The organizers of the controversial event requested a no objection certificate (NOC) from the district administration to hold the rally at Lahore’s Nasser Bagh.In a statement, Deputy Commissioner said “Following the current security scenario, threat alerts, and law and order situation, and in light of activities like controversial cards and banners for awareness of women’s rights and the strong reservation of the general public and religious organizations, especially JI’s women’s and student wings, who had also announced a program against the Aurat March.”
The move however draws huge outrage from Amnesty International and other human rights activists.
Amnesty International said it is dismayed with the decision of the Lahore district administration to refuse permission for the Aurat March. It called on officials to respect, facilitate and protect the right to assembly, particularly of women in line with international human rights law.
Aurat March, on its official Twitter, said “In a city where large crowds are allowed to gather for PSL, a peaceful gathering of women and gender minorities is being silenced and denied their constitutional right to assembly.”
Are cricket matches more important than issues of gender-based violence? It asked. Marchers maintained that the denial to hold this year’s rally was against their constitutional right, and the DC did not take action against the group for inciting violence against them.
The organizers maintained that administration has forgotten that the courts have already upheld their right to hold Aurat March in 2020.