women's rights

Pakistani Women Organize Bike Rally to Protest Sexism, Increase Visibility

An organization called Girls at Dhabas held bike rallies Sunday in Islamabad, Lahore, and Karachi to promote visibility of women in public spaces. “Enough of the existing mindset that considers it inappropriate for a female or a gender nonconforming person to be out and about on their own. Let’s cycle together and assert our right to navigate public spaces on our own terms,” urged the group on their Facebook page.

Humay Waseem, a bicyclist participating in the Islamabad Girls on Bikes, told Reuters, “I drive on these roads all the time but this was maybe the first time I got to experience them while biking … I loved the feeling of freedom with the breeze in my hair.”

Sadia Khatri formed the feminist group after studying at Mount Holyoke and later spending time abroad in Nepal. “It was traveling to other countries that made me think about my dismal relationship with Karachi — more so, the fact I didn’t have any,” she told Muftah. She created the group almost incidentally by taking photos of and writing about the time she spends at the roadside cafes known as dhabas, which in turn inspired other women to do the same. Meher Bano of Girls at Dhabas told Reuters, “Our strategy is simply to be visible in public spaces.”

The group held their first bike rally in March 2016 to show solidarity with a female bicyclist in Lahore who’d been hit by a car whose passengers were angry she’d ignored their catcalls.

Pakistani Women Organize Bike Rally to Protest Sexism