Let’s Understand UN Women Pakistan’s #KoiJawazNahi Campaign: ‘No Excuses For Violence Against Women’

In our culture there is great respect for women, but that respect disappears within the four walls of a home. We want to pledge to end this violence against women.

In November 2023, I got an opportunity to attend the kick-off event of UN Women’s #KoiJawazNahi Campaign in Moen-jo-Daro, and let me tell you, it was something else! Remember Samantha Power’s words: “Violence against women isn’t cultural, it’s criminal. Equality cannot come eventually, it’s something we must fight for now”? Well, this campaign was all about turning those words into action.

It was amazing to see such an important message coming to life in times when violence against women is on the rise in Pakistan. You need to look no further than national media, where stories of women being brutally beaten, raped or killed for simply existing are surfacing online every other day, shaking the very fabric of Pakistan.

I could go into the details of the how’s and why’s, but that’s not the point of today’s discussion. Just for the sake of clarity, I’d like to bring your attention to the TV show called “Hadsa” – a problematic TV show that recently made national news for its insensitive portrayal of the Lahore motorway rape case. In the light of these alarming situations, it becomes imperative to raise awareness through such impactful campaigns.

UN Women hit us with some eye-opening stats—24.5% of women face violence from their partners, and 18.3% get stuck in child marriages. Enter #KoiJawazNahi, a hashtag that shouts, “No excuse for violence against women!”

Moen-jo-Daro, a place dripping with history, became the starting point for a journey through Quetta, Peshawar, and ending in Islamabad, all to shout out against gender-based violence. And trust me, it’s a big deal, especially with the crazy rise in such incidents in Pakistan.

The heart of the campaign: #KoiJawazNahi

Image of Ms Nabila Zar (Image Credits: My husband, Waqas Rabbani, @JustAPakistaniGamer on YouTube)

The main theme of the campaign, #KoiJawazNahi communicates a powerful message: there’s no excuse to be violent towards women. During her speech, Ms Nabila Malik, Head of Communications and Partnership, UN Women Pakistan clearly said:

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“Aurat kay khilaf tashadud namanzor hai. Or jo aurat per tashadud karta hai wo bahadur nahi hai, wo mard nahi hai. Humari civilization humein ye sikhati hai kay humara mard wo hai jo aurat ko tahaffuz de.” 

[Violence against women is unacceptable. Anyone who perpetrates violence against women is not brave, not a real man. Our civilization teaches us that a true man is the one who provides protection to women.]

She further added”

“Humare culture mein, humari civilization mein aurat ka bohat ehteraam hai magar wo ehteraam chaar divaari mein kahan chala jata hai, ye samajh nahi ata. Hum chahte hain kay hum ehad karen kay aurton kay khilaf is tashadud ko khatam karen.”

[In our culture, in our civilization, there is great respect for women, but it is unclear where that respect disappears within the four walls. We want to pledge to end this violence against women.]

[Exclusive video]

(Video credits: Waqas Rabbani @JustAPakistaniGamer  on YouTube)

More than just lights, theatre and exhibitions

This campaign is about more than just lighting up buildings in orange (though that’s a stunning sight!). There is a street theater performance, and multiple exhibitions, focused on the economic stability of women.

Image: Cast of the play I Photo credits: Waqas Rabbani @JustAPakistaniGamer on YouTube)

The play, “Be-rangi Se Narangi Tak Ka Safar,” tells the inspiring story of a woman who became financially independent through sewing, passing on her skill to her color-blind daughter.

As per the writer/director of the play, Ms Salma Mir:

“We’re aiming for a collective social change through this play, and impart a message that women like men have the right to pursue their passions and gain financial independence.”

While the play highlights the importance of women being financially independent, the exhibitions celebrate the real life female heroes who live the message of the play in their day to day life.

There were around 10-12 stalls at the Moen-Jo-Daro site, with women selling everything from Rilli (traditional quilts and bedspreads) and Qureshia-designed, handmade clothes to cost-effective sanitary napkins and delicious Sindhi food like sarson ka saag, chawal ki roti, Sindhu machli and tea.

Image (Photo credits: Waqas Rabbani @JustAPakistaniGamer on YouTube)

Powerful support and solidarity

Important figures like Nasir Aftab Pathan, DIG Larkana, and Abdul Waheed Shaikh, Commissioner Larkana, were there too, showing their support. It was inspiring to hear them talk about standing together against gender violence.

“As Commissioner of Larkana, I stand in solidarity with the UN Women’s initiative at Mohenjo Daro. Embracing our heritage, we amplify the call to end gender-based violence, fostering a society where every individual thrives free from fear”, said Waheed Shaikh, Commissioner Larkana.

Talking about the spirit of the initiative, Ms. Sharmeela Rassool, the Country Representative of UN Women Pakistan stated:

“Investing to prevent violence against women is not just a theme; it’s a call for tangible action. By choosing Mohenjo Daro as the launch site, we emphasize the resilience of women throughout history and the need to protect their rights in the present day.”

[Exclusive video]

(Video credits: My husband, Waqas Rabbani @JustAPakistaniGamer  on YouTube)

A personal reflection

Being there, amidst the ancient ruins, watching these powerful messages unfold, was really moving. It’s not every day you get to be part of something that’s not just a campaign but a movement for change.

Ended in Islamabad on 10th December 2023, the campaign lit up the entire Pakistan with hope and a promise for a better tomorrow. It’s a reminder to all of us that when it comes to gender-based violence, the answer should always be #KoiJawazNahi.

Image source: by Golib Free for Canva

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About the Author

Fizza Abbas

Fizza Abbas Rabbani is a Best of The Net-nominated writer, freelance journalist, guest lecturer and a published poet, currently working as an Editor in Chief for a Canadian startup. She has bylines in major read more...

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