TW: violence against women, gender discrimination, patriarchy
Pakistan – a country where stories about violent crimes committed against women are reported every day, a country with numerous cases of gender discrimination, yet a country that denies the need for feminism.
Pakistan ranks third worst on the Gender Parity Index of the World Economic Forum (WEF) and ranks fourth worst on the Women’s Peace and Security Index of the Georgetown University Institute for Women, Peace and Security and Oslo’s Peace Research Institute. These rankings are devastating, especially since the fight against gender inequality had started since the country was born. In the 1940s, a Women’s Relief Committee was started by Fatima Jinnah and Begum Rana Liaquat introduced the All-Pakistan Women’s Association to aid women.
During Zia’s Islamization period, Women’s Action Forum opposed it to the greatest degree. In recent years, the Aurat March has provided a platform to women to demand their rights in public spaces. Feminists in Pakistan have also been vocal on social media forums about women related issues.
Both men and a number of women are cynical about the feminist movement in Pakistan. Pakistanis are not ready to accept that the patriarchal system in the country is highly unfair; it imposes violence upon women. Men cannot let go off their privileges that grant them freedom and multiple advantages in life. If they do not condemn feminism, they will have to accept many practices they brush off as “vulgar” and “western”. Women, on the other hand, believe they will remain “safe” if they do not associate with women fighting for change and if they keep on supporting the current system.
In online spaces, misogynists have been trolling and bullying feminists to diss their fight against the oppressive system. Their purpose is to completely demotivate and scare them off by making rape and death threats. Some individuals even came up with the idea of “Mard March” in early 2020 to trivialize the Aurat March.
Though times have changed, Pakistanis still have a long way to go to understand that feminism is not a bad word and that the country cannot progress until progressive ideologies are implemented.