Mera jism meri marzi

By Wazir Ali Shah

Every year women from different cities of Pakistan participate in Aurat March on International Women Day. But the march has always been criticized. This year, the organizers are facing strong reaction and fierce criticism even before the march. The critics are not against the narratives often raised by women about the patriarchal structure of society that result in sexual, economic and structural exploitation of women but some of its controversial slogans particularity “Mera jism Meri Marzi”.

The slogan has opened up a burning debate from critics in the media and religious clerics. If the organizers and feminist groups are backing their stance or perception as true or positive then why a man is said to be misogynist if he shares their perception attached to the meaning “meri merzi”. The word “meri marzi” seems cryptic to everyone and different interpretations come to our mind welcoming the viewer to construe their own perception or meaning to the theme. This polemical slogan opened another burning debate when writer Khalilurur Rehman Qamar criticized the Aurat March, feminism and women rights activists for bringing a “Western agenda” into Pakistan.

The word “Meri Marzi” seems complex and non-stoppable to keep on with their own belief and even it contradicts or collides with limitations of set principles of society. If we go with the same ideal of meri marzi, can we stop a rapist to rape? Will criminals not use their weapons? Drivers will also be free to break traffic signals saying meri marzi. We can’t even voice over teachers to punish and abuse their students in the classrooms. Many of the points mentioned by women during Aurat March are quite valid and understandable and must be ensured by the state. But my body my choice debate has grown louder for not being easily connected to the well-defined equal rights given by Islam or other religions to the women.

As women represent almost half of society and have the right to participate in every matter of life, the question to bask from the organizers of Aurat March is that why they are not emphasizing the importance of women displaying banners mentioning the vital role of women to build the family, society and nation and shift the criticism into support of the conservative group?

They can raise their hands about their equal rights in education, their legal share in inheritance, advising man to follow the sharia principles to share the burden of women. Islam teaches us to respect women, daughter is one of the blessings of God and women have the right to have dignified jobs. If many such rights are added to the mission of the women then all criticism will surly turn into massive support to second the rights of women. Otherwise, mere marzi seems difficult to close and to come to the conclusion of any debate.

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