The Aurat March takes place annually on 8 March, International Women’s Day. And every year, pictures of protesters holding posters are doctored to generate more backlash against the march. 

The Women’s March in Pakistan has managed to spark a lot of outrage across different sections of the society since it was first held 2 years ago in Karachi in 2018. This year some doctored posters of participants from previous years are making rounds on different social media platforms feeding the narrative that the March is ‘offensive’ and ‘unIslamic’. 

1. Blank Flyers 

In these pictures, prominent talk-show anchor Mansoor Ali’s wife is seen holding flyers that say, “It is not immodest to be naked” and “my body, my choice” in the first version and “There, I’m sitting properly” alongside an illustration of a femme with her legs spread wide open. 

Mansoor Ali himself Tweeted a collage of multiple doctored versions of the same picture alongside the original one in which his wife was holding blank flyers. 

Moreover, the poster she’s seen holding in the second version is from 2019’s Aurat March. After conducting a quick reverse Google image search, we found multiple articles and posts dating back to March of 2019. One article published by in April 2019 was specifically about said poster. 

2. Main Awara, Main Badchalan: 

This poster is from Aurat March 2019 but started making rounds on social media as the 2020 March was approaching. The original poster (Right) says ‘Main Awara, Main Badchalan’ (rough translation: ‘Im free, I’m bold’) reclaiming Urdu words which are used to police women’s bodies. This poster was doctored to say, “I’m a mom, a daughter, a wife, a sister. Rescue me from liberal aunties”. The poster on the left is doctored because the shadows on the ground suggest that the participant is facing the sun. This means the poster itself should have a shadow of whoever took the picture. On the contrary, the picture on the left has a shadow casting on the poster, which is continuous with the rest of the image. 

The following two images were also posted on twitter by the participant herself claiming her poster was doctored. 

3. Izzat Nahi, Insaan Hun Mein

This poster is from the 2020 Karachi Aurat March. The original poster says “Izzat nahi, insaan hun,” which roughly translates to “I am not honour, I am a human being.” A doctored version of this poster was shared on social media after the march, saying “Izzat nahi, r*ndi hun main” replacing “human” in the original version with “r*ndi* which is a slur in Urdu meaning prostitute. We know the poster is doctored specifically because in 2020, Aurat March Lahore added a watermark to the original pictures shared by the page so that people could know when they are doctored.

4. Khaana Garam Karna Seekh Liya? (Have you learnt how to warm your own food?) 

The doctored version of this post went viral across all social media platforms after the March in 2019. Not only that, but it also resurfaced a few days prior to the 2020 March and made rounds on social media, with people posting and condemning the march for promoting offensive content. The original poster, which said “Khana khud garam karna seekh liya?” (Have you learnt how to warm your own food?) was a follow-up to the viral poster from 2018’s march that, “Khana khud garam karo” (“Warm your own food”). The poster on the left is doctored. Upon zooming in, one can see that the participant’s fingers in the original image cover a part of the text, whereas in the doctored version, a part of the drawing overlays her finger. See below: 

5. Blank Poster: 


Similarly, another poster that has been making rounds on social media says, ‘Legalise alcohol and same-sex marriage’ and has been deemed severely ‘unIslamic’. Soch reached out to the participant holding the placard who told us that he and his friend flipped their posters and held them up to symbolise that men are “clueless” about women’s rights. His friend then posted the picture on Twitter, which was picked up and doctored by someone. This participant sent us another picture of himself holding the blank placard at the Aurat March. 

6. Apni Roti Khud Daalo (Make your own roti): 

This is another poster that went viral in Karachi in 2018 and has been making rounds on the internet ever since. The original poster (Right) says “Apni roti khud daalo” (“Make your own bread”) whereas the doctored version says, “Agay nahi, peeche daalo” (“Put it in from behind, instead of the front”)  Soch reached out to the participant carrying this poster and she sent us another picture of her from the same day carrying the exact same poster. She also sent us a video of the original poster, as well as another photo. 

7. Nobody: 

Not a soul: 

Ahmed Ali Butt: We are here to legalise prostitution. 

This poster is from Aurat March 2020 held in Lahore. The original poster (Left), made in a meme-like format, is taking a jab at prominent actor Ahmed Ali Butt because he denounced the slogan “Mera Jism, Meri Marzi” (My body, my choice). In a statement, the actor said that the slogan popularised by Aurat March entails legalising prostitution. The poster, which was meant to make fun of Ahmed Ali Butt was both misunderstood and misrepresented. The original poster was cropped and circulated on social and electronic media in such a way that it said, “We want to legalise prostitution.” 

Furthermore, since the poster was in meme-format, it was misunderstood by a lot of people and taken out of context. PMLN politician, Sarmad Ahmed Siddique slammed the original poster in a Facebook post and called Aurat March unislamic because he thought it was calling for prostitution to be legalised.

A cropped version of the poster was also circulated on whatsapp, depicting a similar misinterpretation of the poster as the aforementioned posts. This time, the poster was explicitly altered, being cropped in such a way that only “We are here to legalize prostitution” can be seen. In reality the poster is referencing the actor Ahmad Ali Butt’s remarks regarding the motivations behind the Aurat March.

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