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Feminist Group Organizes Women-Only Bike Races In Pakistan

FILE: Pakistani woman cyclist Samar Khan bicycled 800 kilometers and crossed glaciers.

Dozens of Pakistani women have taken part in female-only bicycle races in major cities, part of a growing feminist movement in the country.

Meher Bano of Girls at Dhabas, a feminist group, said the April 2 races were organized after a woman from Lahore was pushed off her bicycle last year by a group of men when she did not respond to catcalls.

Riders in the Islamabad race, many of them women in their 20s, told stories of being harassed or hearing catcalls whenever they go out in public.

Bano said the purpose of such events is "simply to be visible in public spaces."

Girls at Dhabas group members say they are a new generation of Pakistani feminists, attempting to build on the gains made in the Muslim country by others in the past.

"The women's movement is as old as Pakistan, but it is not something that is really talked about or written about," Bano told the Reuters news agency.

Bano said young women in the country faced barriers in the workplace and were often made to feel uncomfortable going into male-dominated public areas.

"It's part of a much greater narrative that leads to harassment; it leads to violence," she said.

Based on reporting by Reuters