The Awami Workers Party (AWP) condemns in the strongest possible terms the levelling of patently false allegations by right-wing extremist groups and their associated troll armies against the organisers of the Aurat Azadi March (AAM) which took place in many Pakistani cities on 8th March.
These allegations, and the clear incitement to violence that have accompanied them, represent a direct threat to the lives of women who have completely altered the public debate on Pakistani feminism and represent the best traditions of contemporary progressive politics.
It is clear that the flagrantly irresponsible attack on the AAM is a direct pushback against the new generation of women, and their male allies, that are charting unprecedented new and immensely exciting paths for Pakistan’s progressive forces.
AWP subscribes in its entirety to the AAM manifesto presented this year, in which the question of women’s emancipation has been articulated in conjunction with class, ethnic-national and ecological questions.
It is precisely this clarity of thought and action that threatens retrogressive forces that have long held Pakistani society hostage to their dictates. As women become increasingly organized against systemic gender-based injustices and inequities, they are being told, in an age-old patriarchal tradition, that they must remain silent about their pain or express it within certain bounds.
The PTI government has long claimed that it is committed to gender equality and redressing the bases of conservatism in this country; it is now time to demonstrate this commitment by identifying and taking strict action against those who have propagated these wildly inaccurate, and dangerous allegations against the AAM organisers.
The AWP and its sister organisations will remain steadfast in resisting these disgusting attacks on our political freedoms at every step. The various falsehood being propagated by the political right have already been exposed, but there is nevertheless a need to pushback against the environment of fear that has been cultivated since soon after the marches concluded.
The government must take responsibility for nipping this dire situation in the bud and ensure that AAM organizers are able to resume their daily lives without fear of reprisals.
The slogan of ‘protecting culture’ has long been cynically used as a tool to subjugate women and silence their demands for justice and liberation. Both the state and rightwing have long used the idea of a threat to our culture, religion and values to keep patriarchal hierarchies intact.
In the final analysis, the response to the AAM is evidence of the extent of its success. The marches were incredibly diverse in their class and ethnic composition, including enthusiastic participation from domestic workers, katchi abadi residents, eviction affectees, transgendered women and peasant women.
Now more than ever, we must assert the legitimacy of the right of women to freely express their grievances and demand restitution. Now, more than ever, we must resist the attempts to push women back from spaces that have been gained through decades of struggle.
AWP stands with the women’s movement and reasserts its call for a concerted and organized struggle to establish a society free of class, gender, ethnic and religious hierarchies and injustices.