JUI-F allows female journos to cover protests after uproar

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Shafaqna Pakistan: After barring women from participating in the Azadi March, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) has announced that there is no ban on female journalists from covering the Azadi March and has directed the participants of the march to treat all women with respect.

“Senator Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri announced from Azadi March stage that women journalists should not be stopped from covering the march and treat all women with respect no ban on entry of women in dharna,” said anchorperson Hamid Mir in a tweet on Friday.

Previously, women appeared to be absent from the march. Earlier in October, reports had claimed that JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman had imposed a ban on the participation of women in Azadi March but as the march reached Lahore on October 30, JUI-F Senator Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri had said that only female party members have been banned from participating in the ‘Azadi March’.

“Other parties may call in their female members if they wish. There is no restriction on them,” he had added.

He had further said that female journalists wishing to cover the march are allowed to do so and denied knowledge of a female reporter in Karachi being prevented from reporting on it.

When a journalist asked a marcher about the absence of women from the march, he said that what distinguished JUI-F from other political parties was the way men in the party stood of for the rights of their women.  “Our women, who are sitting at home, will agree that the men represent them,” he said.

On Twitter, female journalists complained about the ill-treatment they suffered at the hands of the marchers. Nadia Suleman from BBC Urdu said that a volunteer in the march harassed and insulted her. Another female reporter from Independent Urdu said that the security personnel of JUI-F asked her to leave because she is a woman.

Another journalist, Shiffa Z Yousafzai tweeted that not only was she barred from the march but she was yelled at and insulted as well.

“While giving the intro a man came and started saying women aren’t allowed, women CANNOT be here. Leave! Slowly but in a minute’s time a crowd of men encircled us and started chanting the slogans, we had to leave but they kept coming after us in huge crowds making sure that I leave,” she tweeted.

Following these incidents, government ministers also criticised JUI-F for exluding women from the march. They lashed out at the marchers for restricting space for women in the country.

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