The Hazara community is a minority ethnic group in Pakistan that has been based in the Balochistan city of Quetta for over a century and a half. The bulk of the community members are Shia Muslims, and their persecution in Balochistan is based on both their ethnic and religious identities.
Over the last two decades, Hazara women’s social, economic, emotional, and political lives have become increasingly difficult, both within society in general and within the Hazara community in particular. Hazara women have been fighting on the front lines for the community’s right to life and peace, and have successfully led peaceful protests. However, Hazara women’s struggles are not only completely invisible in Pakistan’s feminist movement and literature, but they also face threats and harassment both online and offline from within the community.
Following the emergence of the Aurat March and Aurat Azadi March in Pakistan in 2018, a large number of Hazara women organized an Aurat Azadi March in Quetta, resulting in a strong backlash not only from most men in Balochistan, but also Hazara and Shia men, who began a campaign against Hazara feminist women. This backlash is both political and religious in origin, which is deeply rooted in patriarchal and tribal norms, and includes misinformation, explicit violence and threats of violence, and stigmatisation and vilification of struggle members.