Women urged to learn to talk back to men who exploit them in the garb of religion, culture or traditions
Marching several kilometers under the sweltering sun on Wednesday, the participants of the Aurat Azadi March in Hyderabad reiterated the call to put an end to all the forms of discrimination being practiced against women.
“Jeay aurat. Jeay Sindh [long live women. Long live Sindh],” they chanted as they walked towards the Hyderabad Press Club where the stage was set for speeches and music.
“Equality has no gender,” read a placard. “No to gender discrimination and patriarchy,” read another. Addressing the participants, the playwright Noorul Huda Shah asked the women belonging to the minority communities and the rural areas to learn to speak for their rights.
“Women should learn to answer the men who exploit them in the garb of religion, culture or traditions.” She said she comes to Hyderabad to attend the march to speak to these women who are considered the most suppressed.
She told the women peasants to strongly demand their rights as enshrined in the constitution relating to their workplace and to their wages. “If not for their labour, the feudal lords will not be able to cultivate their crops.” Shah said the women should stop bowing down to subjugation.
She deplored that every other day they get to hear about murders of young girls and women mostly due to domestic reasons. Shah advised the women to take their complaints to the police and also to seek the support of the human rights activists like her instead of suffering in silence. “If you learn to speak, no one will suppress you. But if you remain silent you will keep suffering the abuses.” Shah asked the women to try to know about the minimum wage which their employers are supposed to pay and to demand the same from them.
The Women Action Forum Karachi chapter’s Attiya Dawood appreciated the Sindh University’s Prof Dr Arfana Mallah, Prof Amar Sindhu and Marvi Aiwan for organizing the march especially by ensuring participation of the minorities, peasants, working women and students. “In the past when women used to speak about freedom they were subjected to ridicule,” she observed. However, she pointed towards a cross-section of women who were in attendance at the march to say that the critics can no longer jeer that some short-haired women are alone demanding freedom and equality.
Prof Mallah said they have come out to take part in the march in a society where females are supposed to take permission before leaving their homes. She demanded greater representation for the women in the national and provincial assemblies. She also called for bringing wages of women working as domestic maids at par with the provincial government fixed minimum wage.
Rickshaw driver Basheeran Solangi narrated her work related challenges while the differently abled Zareena Baloch deplored that the people like her seldom get attention of the mainstream movement calling for the rights.
Aleesha, representing the transgender community, complained that they still faced problems in receiving the national identity cards and in opening the bank accounts. “We don’t demand separate hospitals but there should be some reserved beds for the transgender persons in the government hospitals.” The march also passed resolutions on the occasion.