In less than a week’s time, the second Aurat March will be held and tensions are high. Women are amassing and pushing back and it’s a wonderful and empowering thing to behold. Last year after the march, there was a surge in anti-feminist rhetoric, online and in real life social circles. Third world feminism found itself tasked with answering to First World Antifeminism and it is a large and unwieldy burden. In a fight to end honour killings, the two finger test and acid attacks, activists are faced with answering for mansplaining, manspreading and free-bleeding. While these are certainly important issues, they are not the focus at this point in countries like Pakistan, and silencing activists asking for basic human rights and an end to murder is tantamount to being inhumane. Perhaps the real treachery here is anti-feminist efforts to co-opt feminist language while actively working towards curtailing women’s rights.Activists are an integral part of any healthy society. They are often, nevertheless, seen as grating disruptors of the peace with suspicious motivations. Activists and journalists working in Pakistan will sometimes find themselves being publicly accused of having secretly worked with neighbouring countries to destabilize the Islamic Republic from within. This is a particularly effective way to silence lawful dissent but is not the only way in which activists are silenced. Feminist activists, as mentioned earlier, face suspicion too but along with that they also face derision – and that derision is more pronounced in the Third World. Committees, funds, organisations etc are largely run by educated and affluent people – and the discrepancy between their lives and the lives of the women they seek to protect is significant. The meetings of people speaking for the public are run almost entirely in English in countries with a low literacy rate , clearly highlights the privilege of the activists in attendance. It is this discrepancy that gives rise to derision: How can they speak for a group of people when they can’t understand their experiences? How can they speak for women far, far less privileged than themselves? Activists and journalists working in Pakistan will sometimes find themselves being publicly accused of having secretly worked with neighbouring countries to destabilize the Islamic Republic from within. This is a particularly effective way to silence lawful dissent but is not the only way in which activists are silencedBut does that give one the right to silence them? A woman who seems to benefit under the patriarchy yet for some reason still fights it – why does that anger/frighten people so much? Patriarchal standards are deeply entrenched within almost all communities globally and though it is a commonly held belief that there is a systematic oppression of women, a more insidious manifestation of the patriarchy is the derisive disregard of women’s rights’ activism.Third World feminists are often also accused of trying to impose their own ‘Westernised’ ideals on an unwilling public. In the 1960’s, NAM – the Non-Alignment Movement – was formed with the understanding that it would work towards the ‘decolonisation’ of the third world (Third Worldism) and ensure essentially that the first world wouldn’t interfere with ‘domestic’ matters or drag them into the Cold War. ‘Westernised ideals’ include social norms, ethical values, traditional customs, belief systems etc that is often believed to not be in keeping with Pakistani culture and religion. Citing feminism as a Western ideal, antifeminists mean to silence women’s rights activists by stating that this feminism has nothing to do with the average Pakistani woman’s experience. Maria Lugones and Elizabeth Spelman, in their essay “Have We Got a Theory for You”, discuss how minorities are not represented in the Feminist movement and that it is almost exclusively defined by the White female experience. “Western Feminism according to Lugones and Spelman has “arisen not, for the most part, arisen out of a medley of women’s voices; instead, the theory has arisen out of the voices, the experiences, of a fairly small handful of women, and if other women’s voices do not sing in harmony with the theory, they aren’t counted as women’s voices (Lugones and Spelman, 19)” Why are people so deeply affected by the Aurat March? Simple slogans based on actual cases where women faced violence or the threat of violence for not cooking properly triggered massive backlash last year. Pakistani women who speak of independence online are tagged in pictures of naked or topless protests in the First World, and are forced to consider their privacy settings very seriously.Women’s Rights’ activists in Pakistan are asking for basic rights. Many of you agree with everything they stand for. Stand with them, join them – stop trying to silence them. Besides, it’s much too late for that, I’m afraid. Zeina is a British writer, poet and businesswoman based in Karachi and London. A seasoned corporate consultant, she’s been running her family’s executive training and consultancy company in Karachi while also working in the bridal fashion industry in London. Zeina writes on women’s rights, politics, the legal system and social issues. You can find her on twitter and in her woodworking studio. Published in Daily Times, March 5th 2019.