from Pakistan

Ummat newspaper under fire for inappropriate language against Aurat marchers

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan condemned the “use of unethical and inappropriate” language against women in a front-page story in Urdu-language daily Ummat.

“HRCP condemns the use of unethical and inappropriate language against women in the daily Ummat,” the HRCP said in a Twitter post. “The newspaper must publish an unconditional apology and refrain from using such language in future.”

The paper published the front-page news story Monday morning. Most of the women, it read, were raped in 14 countries. The report said these countries included America, Japan, Sweden, South Africa, India and Bangladesh.

The report described the participants of the March 8 Aurat March as “whores”. “Aurat March’s whores are unable to see these non-Muslim countries,” it read.

Aurat March is held in Pakistan every year on the International Women’s Day.

In a separate tweet, the HRCP said the newspaper is also “orchestrating a vilification campaign” against elderly writer Amar Jaleel.

“Such practices bring a bad name to the profession of journalism,” the rights organisation said, calling on the All Pakistan Newspapers Society and Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors to take notice of it.

The screenshot of the news story was widely shared on social media and people condemned the newspaper for using the derogatory term against women.

Noorul Huda Shah, a dramatist and short-story writer, said she doesn’t want to repeat the word that the newspaper used for women.

“I won’t repeat the word but it’s the same word that’s used for prostitutes in street language,” she told Dawn News TV. She said that those who participated in Aurat March are the children of this “ummah”, which the newspaper is named after.

The playwright asked the state to act against the use of such language. “Can’t the state take action against it,” Shah said. “You can’t stop it and when you don’t, it feels like they have your support.

“You girls, your daughters are asking for their right to live their lives and you are not prepared to give them their right and instead you are abusing them,” she said, referring to the news report.

SAMAA Digital spoke to the newspaper’s editor, Amjad Irshad, for his comments but he asked us to call him later. He was sent a text message later and he asked us to wait but didn’t get back till the filing of the story.

A day after this year’s Aurat March, a photo of a placard about child abuse went viral and some people on Twitter labeled it blasphemous.

Aurat March had to issue a clarification that it was a placard that described the ordeal of a child survivor of rape questioning the lack of justice. It said, in Urdu, ‘I was 9, he was 50. I was silenced. But his voice is still heard as he delivers the call to prayer’.

A video of the March participants chanting slogans was also shared on social media but with incendiary subtitles.

Aurat March organisers were quick to share the original video, which asked for azadi from all forces oppressing women.

The fake subtitles had been written to make “Ansar” and “Orya” sound like something else.