Karachi court orders registration of FIR against Aurat March Islamabad organisers

Published March 27, 2021
Aurat March participants holding placards. —Photo courtesy Amnesty International/ File
Aurat March participants holding placards. —Photo courtesy Amnesty International/ File

A local court in Karachi directed on Saturday the police to record the statement of an applicant and, if any cognizable offence was made out, then register a First Information Report (FIR) against the organisers of this year's Aurat March in Islamabad.

The directive comes two days after a similar order was issued by a local court in Peshawar, which had ordered the registration of an FIR on Thursday against the organisers of the same event for allegedly displaying "obscene posters" and making sacrilegious remarks against religious personalities.

On Saturday, the additional district and sessions’ judge (South) gave this direction to the Station House Officer (SHO) of the City Courts police station on an application, filed by Advocate G M Arain under Section 22-A of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) against the same SHO for allegedly not entertaining his request to register an FIR against the organisers of the Aurat March.

Section 22-A of the CrPC empowers the court to act as 'Justice of Peace" and order the registration of an FIR against an offence in case of the police's failure to do so.

In the application, Arain contended that the respondents, including Marvi Sarmad, Tooba Syed and others, had organised an event by the name of Aurat March in Islamabad on March 8.

The applicant stated that he, along with other members of the Karachi Bar Association, had watched the event's telecast on television channels from the capital. He alleged that during the event, sacrilegious remarks were made about respectable religious personalities and their wives, adding that provocative slogans were also raised.

He further mentioned that vulgar and anti-Islam slogans were raised during the event.

The petitioner stated that the Karachi Bar Association’s members had also passed a resolution, condemning such acts committed by the event's organisers and participants in the name of freedom for women and women's rights.

Doctored videos

Earlier this month, a video from the demonstration held in Karachi was doctored to falsely show participants raising blasphemous slogans and widely shared online.

The orga­ni­sers of Aurat March clarified that the participants of the march did not raise such slogans and their video was edited to defame their struggle.

People also mistook flags of the Women Democratic Front (WDF) at the Islamabad March for the French Tricolour after which the organisers issued a clarification.

Read: The Aurat March and the march of disinformation

After protests in the capital calling for registration of FIRs against organisers and participants of the Aurat March, Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri had said that "controversial material" shared on social media concerning the march was being investigated.

Aurat March has become an annual feature since 2018 and every year faces backlash from certain religio-political parties, who have been opposing the event.

The marches are organised in major cities to highlight issues facing women and condemning incidents of violence against them as well as gender discrimination, economic exploitation and misogyny.

Following this year's march on International Women’s Day, heated debates were once again seen on social media for and against the march.

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