Girls on Bikes: Pakistani women fight for their right to public spaces

10th Apr 2017
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Girls at Dhabas, a Pakistan-based organisation, is now organising bike rallies on the roads of Islamabad, Lahore, and Karachi in order to amplify the visibility and identity of women in the country's public places. Women in Pakistan have been at the receiving end of conservative customs all these years and this is an attempt to curb this culture. As part of this, the organisation has come up with a campaign called ‘Girls on Bikes’, which aims at promoting female participation in public events, fight restrictions in public places, and increase awareness.

Image source: Girls at Dhabas Facebook

According to Indiatimes, Meher Bano, a member of this community, told Reuters,

Our strategy is simply to be visible in public spaces.

Recently, a bunch of men bullied and pushed a woman off her bicycle in Lahore because she was not responding to their teasing calls. Pakistan has a population of around 200 million, over 60 percent of which is below 30. Despite the youth forming the majority of the country's population, Pakistan has been unjust to women with respect to the restrictions placed on them.

This community 'Girls at Dhabas', started to receive their initial traction when the members started visiting local eateries, which have traditionally been male-dominated spaces.

In a chat with Indiatimes, Humay Waseem, a local from Islamabad, said,

I drive on these roads all the time but this was maybe the first time I got to experience them while biking.

The women who have stepped up for this movement say it feels very good to have acquired this kind of freedom all by themselves, for the first time. Although it is just a start, the movement is triggering hopes for a better future for Pakistan.

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