The debate that has been going on social media this time of the year is whether Aurat March should happen or not. Everyone had their own opinions and a petition seeking a ban on Aurat March was also taking rounds which however today has been rejected by Islamabad High Court.
Aurat March is scheduled to be held on March 8th on the occasion of Women’s Day. All over the country people demanding equality and social justice for women will lead rallies voicing for women who have been victims of all sorts of assault. But the petition signed by eight citizens demanded the court to ban the march since it corrupts the Islamic values and the moral ethos of the Pakistani culture. It named the chief commissioner of Islamabad and the federal government as respondents.
Anyhow, the Islamabad High Court has declared that the petition is neither justiciable nor maintainable and has hence dismissed the plea.
Observe The March In Positive Light
Chief Justice Athar Minallah laid emphasis on the need for people to see this march with positive sight.
He emphasized that the petitioners and the citizens should observe the event i.e. Aurat March being held on International Women’s Day as an opportunity to introspect because the march stands in protest to the practices against women that are actually “flagrantly offensive to the injunctions of Islam” but still flourishing in the society.
He further mentioned that the right to assembly is among the fundamental right of every citizen while also guiding the participants of Aurat March to act in accordance with the law and make sure that their “conduct was consistent with the norms of decency.”
“If something goes against the law on March 8, then it will be dealt with legally.”
The Slogans In Aurat March Contradict Islamic Values?
The contendents claimed during the hearing that the slogans raised by the participants during the march such as “Mera Jism, Meri Marzi (My Body, My Choice)” were offensive, violated Islamic injunctions and were against established norms. Their fear was that the rise of such slogans would create unrest in society.
On the narrative, the IHC chief justice questioned the contendents of how these slogans were contradicting Islamic values.
Justice Minallah noted, “These slogans are asking for the rights given to them [women] in Islam.”
“How can we interpret the meaning of these slogans ourselves when the organisers [at a press conference] have clarified that they were asking for the rights granted to them in Islam.”
The slogan “Mera jism, meri marzi” was also rephrased in a rally in Gujranwala as “Mera jism, mere Khuda ki marzi.”
The Practices Prohibited By Islam Still Practiced In The Society
The judge enquired the petitioners’ lawyers about the difficulties that women face in the country because of the cruel traditional practices and injustice in the inheritance cases despite the fact that Islamic laws protected their rights in this regard.
He also defined that female infanticide was still an ongoing practice in Pakistan which was an acceptable norm in the pre-Islamic societies. “The Holy Prophet (PBUH) had stopped the burial of baby girls alive. However, the birth of a girl is not considered ‘good’ in our society.”
“Various Islamic laws are being seriously violated in our society. The court hopes that the petitioner also approaches it for their enforcement.”
The Islamabad High Court chief justice cited in his eight-page judgment how the Holy Prophet (PBUH) spread the message of Almighty Allah 14 centuries ago, “a revolution, which has no parallel in human history.”
“Women were treated as chattel, having no rights at all. The pre-Islamic times did not recognise any rights of the women. The patriarchal culture subjugated and treated women as property,” read the verdict.
“The advent of Islam prohibited female infanticide and gave a woman her own identity. It recognised the right of a woman to enter into a marriage contract based on her free will. For the first time women were given the right to inherit property and to own and manage it on their own. They were given the right to engage in business and their education was declared an obligation of the State.”
The judge explained that these were the teaching of Islam at a time when the rest of humanity was still violating the rights of women, treating them as property and an object.
“It was indeed a revolution against the patriarchal and misogynist norms and culture.”
Slogans In The Aurat March Should Be Considered As Demand For Women Rights
The judge questioned whether these revolutionary Islamic injunctions, which are considered remarkable in human history, are being implemented in our modern society today.
“If not, then why any expressive conduct on the International Women’s Day may not be interpreted as a demand for those rights given to women by Almighty Allah?”
He further stressed on how countrywide courts are flooded with lawsuits brought to them by women who are denied their inheritance rights.
“Mothers, sisters, and daughters are denied their rights which have been expressly given to them by Almighty Allah in unambiguous terms in the Holy Quran. In defiance of the explicit commands of Islam, child marriage, rape and honour killings are not uncommon in our society today,” the verdict read.
“Women are forced into marriage against their will. Heinous traditions of Karokari, Swara, Wani and other forms of exploitation are being practiced in a State where 97% of the population professes to be Muslim.”
Justice Minallah noted that the societal and tribal norms are apparently given priority over the Islamic injunctions.
“Female children are not safe and there cannot be a more offensive illustration than the unimaginable pain and agony suffered by little innocent ‘Zainab’.”
Current Mindset Is Alarming
The judge expressed concern over the alarming situation where people were more outrageous towards the march than the mindsets and the practices which have clearly been violating the unambiguous teachings of Islam.
“The practices and attitudes highlighted above are prevalent in our society and are public knowledge. Evidence of these practices is the female victims whose heartrending stories are heard by the courts across the country on a daily basis. These norms are not only offensive but blasphemous.”
He declared that the International Women’s Day must be seen and considered in this context. “It should be observed as a day of introspection. The petitioners and the society should demonstrably show their abhorrence and outrage against the norms of certain sections of our society, which are in defiance to the Islamic injunctions, some of which have been discussed above. There is a need to accept the reality and to change mindsets by demonstrably showing outrage against the flagrant violations of the commands of Almighty Allah. Islam had brought a revolution against tribal patriarchal culture and misogynist norms.”
Introspect Regarding Women’s Rights Instead Of Interpreting Slogans
He further guided the members of the society to assess on their own whether Islamic teachings regarding the women’s rights were being followed and respected by all those who call themselves Muslims.
“If not, then there should be outrage against the mindsets which are akin to the pre-Islamic patriarchal and misogynist culture and norms. Instead of wasting energy on giving interpretations to the slogans, the explanation of the proponents and their intent should not be doubted. Minds should think positively rather than doubting the intentions of others based on conjectures and presumptions.”
The judge instructed that people should see the slogans on the placards as an outrage towards the injustice and violation of the unambiguous teachings of Islam.
“The petitioners and citizens are expected to take this as an opportunity to introspect and demonstrably show outrage against the practices, which are flagrantly offensive to the injunctions of Islam e.g. mindsets that do not welcome the birth of a female child, honour killings, rape , practices such as Wani, Swara, Karokari , etc. If this happens, then many innocent ‘Zainabs’ will be saved from being treated savagely,” he noted.
“The Holy Prophet (PBUH) had spent years trying to change mindsets and that is the need of the hour. The tribal patriarchal traditions and societal norms, based on egos and obscure insecurities, which offend the injunctions of Islam , have to be defeated through collective struggle so that no mother, sister or daughter suffers the agony of litigation to assert rights of inheritance nor innocent ‘Zainabs ‘have to endure unthinkable pain and agony.”
Participants Of Aurat March Should Persist Decency
As much as the verdict supported the march and guided people to be positive about it, it also expected the participants of Aurat March to exercise their rights granted by the law in accordance with the law. The court instructed them to persist decency since “It is an opportunity for them to prove those who doubt their intentions wrong.”