The Aurat March, a rally held every year on International Women’s Day by women across Pakistan to express their grievances and celebrate womanhood, turned violent on Wednesday, according to a report.
A violent brawl erupted outside the Press Club today as women and transgender people from various fields gathered for the Aurat March rally, where police allegedly beat attendees with batons and attempted to “stop” the rally. The police and rally participants got into a verbal spat after they questioned the large number of transgender people trying to join the rally, the police said, adding that large groups of women were joining the march, according to Geo News.
Police allegedly “tried hard to stop the rally,” according to women marching.
During the rally, participants chanted pro-rights women’s slogans and were joined by transgender people, who were stopped by police to be questioned.
According to Geo News, there was soon serious disorder outside the Islamabad Press Club, and marchers began to raise slogans against the government and the media.
Several reporters present at the event expressed concern that, despite peacefully covering the incident all morning, they had become embroiled in the fight. A female reporter and a cameraman from a local news channel were also injured.
Federal Minister for Climate Change Sherry Rehman also participated in the rally and strongly condemned the violence that broke out, reported Geo News.
Taking to her Twitter handle, Rehman said, “Friends from Aurat Azadi March are rightly upset. The Islamabad police had NO business laathi charging a small peaceful procession. It is the women holding laathis that need to be pushed back, not progressive women. Sad to see this happening. Will seek an inquiry.”
In another tweet, she said, “I strongly condemn this violence and have sought an inquiry on the incident. There is no excuse for this. That too on Int’l Women’s Day. This is not what we fought for and will not tolerate it. Has been brought to the Interior Minister’s notice.”
Following the spate that broke out, a number of people and organisations have spoken up against the administrations and condemned the brutality, reported Geo News.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) tweeted, “HRCP deplores the use of force by the Islamabad police against citizens at the Aurat Azadi March. We are also concerned by reports that religious organizations have tried to hinder women from taking part in the march. Women have as much right to peaceful assembly as any citizen.”
Aurat March was also organised in Ghotki, where the marchers shouted slogan, “as long as women are getting killed, we will continue fighting.”