This week, activists and human rights defenders gathered outside the National Press Club in Islamabad to protest against the infamous unlawful marriage case against former Pakistani PM, Imran Khan, and his wife, Bushra Bibi. The conviction was issued on February 3, annulling their marriage during the latter’s Iddat period.
“They have written their black verdict with our red blood. You [the courts] have attacked our dignity, our privacy, our bodily autonomy. This is neither the first time nor the last,” an official statement read. She vowed that women will come out and protest the infringement on their rights.
“This is such a shameful judgment. Courts have nothing to do with women’s personal lives, with their menstruation, when they bleed, when they don’t bleed, and how long they bleed. This is very shameful,” Uzma Yaqoob told Images.
“It’s a woman’s body and only she can tell you what happened with her, when she was on her period, when she was pregnant. This is why we keep saying ‘mera jism, meri marzi’,” activist Farzana Bari told the protesters on sight.
Bari suggested that the verdict is condemnable, patriarchal, anti-women and even anti-human in nature and added that family laws need to be “gender-just.”
“We have to ensure that our family laws are gender-just and a woman’s testimony should be considered conclusive,” she said.
Activist Tahira Abdullah lamented how women have been objectified since the time of General Ziaul Haq, and asked, “How will we continue encouraging adversity towards women?”
Farhatullah Babar, the former senator and a member of the PPP, also joined the protest. He remarked that he is a political opponent of Imran Khan, yet he is participating in the protest based on the potential threats it may pose in the future. “This is a warning to all future PMs that they won’t just face convictions but also will be publicly humiliated,” he warned.
In their official statement, Aurat March Islamabad urged the higher courts to overturn these decisions, “as failure to do so will establish a precedent that could be exploited by a judiciary itself that is historically inclined towards anti-women rulings.”
The statement added that the rallying “Mera Jism, Meri Marzi” asserts the “fundamental right of women to make decisions about their bodies and lives, free from coercion or interference.”
Earlier, in a statement on platform X, Aurat March Islamabad called the verdict “a manifestation of unequal marriage laws that establish men’s superiority and control in marital relationships and reinforce patriarchal control over women’s bodies.”
Women’s Action Forum- Lahore also expressed discontentment on the verdict in a post that read, “verdict is an assault on women’s autonomy over their bodies, dignity & privacy, setting dangerous precedent for the state’s intrusion into the private lives of citizens.”
Protesters made speeches and chanted slogans to condemn the Iddat case verdict and displayed placards inscribed with slogans such as “Meri Shadi Meri Marzi”, Aurat Ka Jism Siyasi Hareefun Ka Maidan Nahi”, “Iddat case decision is an attack on women rights”, and “Iddat case fuels Islamophobes.”