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On March 8, as the world observed the International Women’s Day, Pakistani women also took to streets, leading protest rallies that they termed Aurat March. Like the previous year, Aurat March attracted violent criticism this year too. While there were online threats of rape, murder alongside a barrage of abuse - considered serious enough in Pakistan generally - a religious cleric went as far as openly inciting people to violence against Aurat March organisers and threatening to rape them too. The said cleric delivered this speech inside a mosque as part of his Friday sermon. In less than a month since Aurat March, at least three cases of forced conversions have come to the fore; one in Punjab and that of two sisters in Sindh. Afzal Kohistani was murdered in Karachi for a dance video surfaced several years ago. A mother was murdered by her son in Kasur. A father raped his daughter while a religious cleric and his two brothers raped their sister. But all these incidents combined could not attract even a fraction of outrage displayed online for Aurat March. Afraid Canvas in this cartoon masterfully sums up this tragedy.

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Naya Daur