This Feminist Gang In Pakistan Is Holding Bike Rallies To Combat Sexism On The Streets

Sadia Khatri started the online movement "Girls At Dhabas" to reclaim public spaces for women

Dozens of women across Pakistan’s major cities came together on Sunday for a female-only bike race, aimed at challenging male dominance of public spaces in the country.

The races, which were held on the inner city roads of Islamabad, Lahore, and Karachi, were organised by the people behind the online group “Girls At Dhabas” a movement of women posting photos of themselves at dhabas (roadside cafes in Pakistan) to assert their right to navigate public spaces on their terms.

The races in each city were around five kilometres long, to allow women of all abilities to join.

The movement is the brainchild of Sadia Khatri who, after studying in Mount Holyoke and spending time in Nepal, realised that she had a  dismal relationship with Karachi and wanted to make a change.

After taking a photo of herself at a dhaba, she was shocked by the response of other women online and decided to create a photo series from the idea. Gradually, other women started posting their own photos and real events grew from the online group.

“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” the group say on their Facebook. “Let’s cycle together and assert our right to navigate public spaces on our own terms,”

After the race in Islamabad on Sunday, women swapped stories about being  catcalled when they go out and the need to fight growing conservatism on Pakistan’s streets.

This is just the latest in many events held by the group over the last year, the group is focused on continuing their fight to claim public spaces for women and voice their forward thinking views on women’s rights.

Find more information about the group here and follow the movement through the hashtags #girlsatdhabas and #whyloiter.


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