Organisers of the Aurat March have provided a clarification following controversy surrounding a video and a banner from their 2021 events in Karachi and Islamabad, which have generated anger and criticism on social media after they were maliciously manipulated and misinterpreted.
In their statement, the organisers have said the video and banner were “targeted and manipulated to spread misinformation and malign the march”.
“This year, one of our videos was doctored and heinous allegations are being placed on us as a result. Misinformation is the tool of those individuals and groups who seek to weaken the feminist movement and silence the voices of those who are marginalised,” reads the statement.
Reference was made to a controversial video which had triggered hate and anger on social media.
The video, the march organisers said, had been edited to include subtitles which maliciously misinterpreted the word “Orya” ( reference to a columnist) to the word Aulia. Similarly words like mullah and others were doctored and twisted as per the organisers to other words which changed the content drastically.
To support their statement, Aurat March organisers also shared the original video clip from the march, in which the correct words have been used and the correct subtitles provided.
Lawyer and activist Jibran Nasir tweeted about the doctored video as well.
“Several accounts deleted their tweet sharing the doctored video of #AuratMarch slogans when corrected but many are refusing to do so despite being directly confronted with evidence. They are making themselves equally culpable of crimes of defamation, hate speech & cyber terrorism,” he tweeted.
A picture of a banner from the march is also doing the rounds on social media owing to the wordings on it.
The march’s organisers have refuted all allegations that the content on it is blasphemous in nature.
According to a statement posted on social media, the organisers of the event have clarified that a woman had only shared her experienced of being sexually assaulted by a much older man and had written down her ordeal on the banner. Any other meaning being ascribed to it is misleading and false, they said.
Controversy over the Aurat March and its posters and banners is not new. At multiple times in the past, seemingly innocuous statements have been manipulated and twisted to present a distorted view of the demands made by women protesting for their rights.
However, this year marks a dangerous development in that a video has been deliberately manipulated and a statement on a banner given a highly objectionable colour to present the women’s rights movement as being anti-religion and going against deeply held social values.
At the same time, some analysts have cautioned the organisers to be careful and not let extreme views and messages hijack the overall message and create controversy over sensitive issues.