#Arts & Entertainment

For many years Pakistani women have been portrayed in a very objectionable way in the TV industry. They are frequently shown being slapped and physically abused. Many dialogues are openly demeaning to women. Recently, the height of this derogatory behaviour was reached with one male character telling a female character that she was even unworthy of his slap. This triggered me to create this petition. This petition is primarily aimed at regaining the self respect of Pakistani women by calling out these drama makers and channels. I want to galvanize Pakistani people to make these channels apologize for their portrayal of women in Pakistani TV dramas.

Recently I happened to watch episodes 22 and 23 of the HUM TV drama Mohabbat Tujhey Alvida. I was left stunned by some of the outright misogynistic dialogues mouthed by the male protagonist. The dialogues are:
  “Maara ussay jata hai Ulfat, jis ki koi haisyat ho, koi aukaat ho…Meri nazron main tum iss qadar girr gayi ho keh tumhari itni bhi aukaat nahi rahi keh main tumhe maarun. You don’t even deserve to be slapped.”
That a woman's worth lies at the mercy of her husband’s whim to slap her is the most outrageous notion expressed. There are many flaws in this drama but nothing evokes anger and dismay the way these dialogues do. The slap that Ulfat (the character in question) didn't receive, has actually struck across our collective face as a people. Somewhere a line has been crossed by demeaning women in such blatant terms.
It is horrifying that such a derogatory and offensive screenplay should be aired on a prime time show on a popular TV channel. More so because we are a country where cases of domestic violence and crimes against women are already very high with most cases of gender based violence going unreported. We are a country which prides itself on its low divorce rate, often comparing ourselves with "the West". But we are also the country where women are stung by deep rooted social stigmas and taboos regarding divorce. One who chooses divorce over a life of domestic abuse becomes a social outcast. She becomes a public subject of scrutiny, a sorry figure. The stigma is so huge that it affects women across social strata and classes. Consequently, the victim is encouraged by her own family to stay in the marriage even if it means a lifetime of mental, emotional and physical trauma.
We are a people who believe that we have deeply ingrained respect for women in our culture. We are also the people who frequently use religion to justify violence against women, conveniently forgetting that Prophet Muhammad PBUH who we are supposed to follow never himself raised a finger at his wives and daughters. 
Churning out utter junk in the name of entertainment is a pathetic state of affairs for our TV industry. There should be entertainment with responsibility. There are women and men out there who will suffer moral degradation thanks to such orthodox and deeply problematic dialogues.
If entertainment can't be used to preach as some may say, it should not be used to inculcate regressive ideas either. That this unworthy material is being written, produced, directed and acted out by "educated" people is another shame. Why have these people shunned social responsibility? Is securing work and making money more important than the responsibility that the nature of their jobs brings with it? Since TV dramas have the exposure and the power to shape minds, they should be made with as much social responsibility. We must remind ourselves of the adage "with great power comes great responsibility ". This power is being grossly misused. It is being used as a weapon against the nation by teaching it misleading, regressive and orthodox concepts. This is deeply offensive to not just women but conscientious men as well. 
And in all of this PEMRA has played no role whatsoever. It should not have allowed these episodes to be aired in the first place. What's the point of having such a body if this level of filth can reach our sitting rooms? This is a massive fail for PEMRA.
Each one of us knows at least one woman (we are more likely to know multiple) who has suffered physical abuse either at the hands of her husband or even her own father and brothers. This is how prevalent this issue is that is being trivialised on our TV screens. Many women out there take domestic violence to be a norm of married life, not knowing that they deserve any better. Those who are aware can’t do anything owing to the shackles of social pressures and taboos. To ridicule their plight for cheap ratings is petty and amoral. These drama makers and channels are reinforcing wrong norms within our society. These dialogues and scenes are openly justifying domestic violence. They are validating physical rage directed at a wife by her husband. Infact they are daringly romanticizing physical abuse between a married couple. It is well known that the audio/visual medium is an effective tool for propaganda. This drama is propagandising domestic violence as a positive expression of worthiness in a wife. This aggressive brainwashing of the masses is an attack on our nation’s moral compass.
I am mother to a 2 year old. I sit writing this at 3 AM, sacrificing precious sleep because the shock and disgust for these dialogues is too great to let pass. This is the seriousness and urgency of this matter to a common Pakistani woman. All of us, men and women, should be stirred by the deep blow to the dignity of women through their portrayal in our entertainment industry. We have to be a morally dead nation to ignore this.
I, on behalf of all Pakistani women and men, demand an apology for these dialogues from the makers of this drama (writer, director, producer, actors) and the channel.
Why do I demand an apology? What benefit will it achieve? Mainly, it will demonstrate some level of self worth and dignity in us as a nation where its women (and men) aren't morally dead and apathetic to ignore such a ridiculous "entertainment ". Additionally, it will deter people in future from making such offensive and misogynistic material knowing that they might be publicly shamed for it.
I appeal to all men and women to please sign this petition. Real men condemn violence against women. Let this incident jolt our collective conscience into action. We must take a stand on this issue. We simply cannot stay neutral or indifferent to it. Whether you sign it or not, either way you are making a choice. If you do, you are supporting every Pakistani woman (and man) out there. If you don’t, you are only supporting the beliefs of these content creators that we are an intellectually stunted people who will take anything that is sold as entertainment. Please make the wiser choice.

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The Raise Your Voice Against Promotion Of Domestic Abuse In Muhabbat Tujhey Alvida) petition to PEMRA was written by Umber Mahrukh and is in the category Arts & Entertainment at GoPetition.