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Ban on Aurat March in Lahore Challenged in Lahore High Court

The deputy commissioner’s order to prohibit the March 8 Aurat March has been contested in the Lahore High Court by Sabhat Rizvi, secretary of the Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA) (LHC).

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Every year on March 8, International Women’s Day, Pakistan hosts the Aurat March to promote gender equality and bring attention to issues impacting women. From the Aurat March’s beginning in 2018, it has been dogged with controversy.

Several conservative groups in society have denounced the march because they believe it goes against Pakistani culture and traditions. Some people have also objected to the marchers’ banners and posters, which they find insulting and disgusting. Some have said that certain slogans and placards from earlier Aurat Marches are unsuitable and disrespectful of Pakistani culture and values, which has caused controversy and debate.

Yet, proponents of the march contend that in order to raise awareness of the problems faced by women in Pakistan and to call for change, these slogans and banners are essential.

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Many claim that the decision to forbid the Aurat March from taking place in Lahore is an effort to silence women’s voices and prevent them from expressing their constitutional rights. The petitioner claims that the Constitution, which protects the right to free speech and assembly, is being violated by the prohibition on a nonviolent march. The petitioner further stresses the need of upholding women’s rights and providing them with a forum where they feel free to express their demands and experiences.

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The petitioner sought with the court to overturn the DC’s decision to forbid the march and to suspend the order until the matter was resolved. On March 8, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Amir Siraj-ul-Haq declared that his party would hold events across the nation. The largest event in this regard, according to him, will take place in Islamabad.

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