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Pakistan’s ‘Aurat March’ sets up art installation playing catcalls to highlight street sexual harassment

 (Twitter)
(Twitter)

Organisers of Pakistan’s “Aurat March” (women’s march) set up an art installation in the shape of a tunnel on a street in Lahore playing recorded catcalls by men to highlight street sexual harassment.

Aurat March is an annual demonstration in cities such as Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, and Quetta to observe International Women’s Day.

This year, the group installed Chalien Auraton Ki Chaal (walk like a woman) for people to pass through and experience the discomfort they feel while recordings of men harassing women on the streets are played on speakers.

“The tunnel piece is an exercise in empathy, in conveying our gendered experiences of walking down the streets, in market places, through office doors,” said Aurat March.

“Ask any gender minority what they feel when they are in public spaces: each one of us will have many stories of harassment, of discomfort, of instances where the streets didn’t feel like ours.

“The art piece plays soundbites of our day-to-day public interactions.

“Aurat March is ultimately about reclaiming public spaces, of never settling for chaar-dewaris, but rather stretching ourselves more fully within and outside our homes. That demands introspection from men of the way they occupy public spaces. We hope this piece helps in that.”

Many people reacted to the installation on Twitter.

Journalist Saba Eitizaz wrote: “I literally had flashbacks.

“Have heard every one of these calls...and worse, every day of my life growing up in Pakistan. It actually started even before I reached puberty. That’s how sick the harassment is. But talk to a man, and they’ll tell you women are the safest in Pakistan.”

Another person added: “Got uncomfortable just watching the video. Sheesh. Unimaginable that this s*** happens every day, everywhere.”

One person wrote: “This is so horrifyingly accurate.”

According to Geo News, this year’s Aurat March in Pakistan turned violent on Wednesday (8 March) as marchers clashed with police.

A fight reportedly broke out outside the Press Club where the police beat attendees with batons and allegedly tried to “stop” the rally.

Rape Crisis offers support for those affected by rape and sexual abuse. You can call them on 0808 802 9999 in England and Wales, 0808 801 0302 in Scotland, and 0800 0246 991 in Northern Ireland, or visit their website: www.rapecrisis.org.uk. If you are in the US, you can call Rainn on 800-656-HOPE (4673).