Mukhtaran Mai case: Mubashar Luqman’s big mistake
The Supreme Court (SC) judgement of Mukhtaran Mai’s case was a great disappointment, but the insensitivity displayed by some elements of the media, was shocking.
Many elements in the media treated the judgement as they treat every other issue – adding a lot of masala, controversy and sensationalism to it.
While I think that no issue deserves this sort of juvenile treatment, there should be a limit to the coverage of sensitive topics like this one.
The decision of the SC has been a big setback for the women of Pakistan. Most decent people in Pakistan, and the rest of the world, think women should not be raped and that gang rapes, especially those which are ordered by jirgas and take place in the presence of a whole village, should be punished. Hence, the court’s decision is a slap in the face of this nation and, yet, our media had the nerve to make fun of the victim. We expect more sensitivity from those who manage people’s access to information.
Get the facts straight
Among several programs that covered the decision, Mubashar Luqman’s Khari Baat on Dunya TV was by far the vilest. I was shocked when I watched it.
The host, who usually does a lot of homework on the cases he presents, seemingly had no knowledge of the details of the case. He had invited two guests, a journalist and a lawyer, who conveniently played what seemed like a game of volleyball with Mukhtaran’s story, with no counter-arguments presented.
Mukhtaran, who initially was on air, live from her home, walked out after hearing the low level of accusations. The argument that was presented in that program was that nothing had really happened and she had made up the whole story. They claimed that “human rights groups, NGOs and Mukhtaran made it up because this is how they earn their living”. I felt nauseated listening to their disgusting drivel.
If nothing happened, why has the SC confirmed that one person should remain in prison for the rest of his life for committing a rape?
The truth is that Luqman, and many other hosts who did programs on Mukhtaran, did not fully read the judgement. Nowhere does the court say that the incident did not take place.
Enough with the NGO bashing
During the program, a well respected nationally and internationally acclaimed scholar was also allowed to be run down. Dr Farzana Bari, who is the head of Gender Studies Department at Quaid-e-Azam University and also credited with setting up this department and building it into a significant institution, was ridiculed during the show.
She and her husband, Sarwar Bari, had been living comfortably in the UK for a long time before returning to Pakistan with a mission to contribute to their country. I am not only reacting to how Farzana was treated, but I would like to say that we women, who put out our necks on the block for human rights violation are pretty tired of being ridiculed, maligned and stereotyped.
It is high time that at least the so called ‘aware’ people start giving us some respect. It is pretty ironic that every time there is a human rights violation, people in media ask, “Where are the NGOs? What are you doing about it?” as if it is only our responsibility to prevent all offenses. And, when we do speak up, just as every citizen should, to make this system accountable, the media claims that we are paid to besmirch the honour of our nation.
The other thing I would like to clarify is that the category NGOs includes madrassas and all religious organization as well. For your information, these ‘faith-based NGOs’ use up a significant portion of foreign funds. So, please! Enough of this NGO bashing!
There are good and bad in all sectors so I will not defend all NGOs, but let’s stop stereotyping everyone and placing them in one category – just as we should not stereotype media walas.
There are responsible and irresponsible elements in the media too. Many clearly do take money to present the news in a slanted way. Many hosts take millions for a single program and yet they only bash politicians, but do not have the courage to say anything against the military or militant groups.
I am not saying all media is bad. Some dealt with issue very well. I would mention Naseem Zehra’s program on Dunya TV and Nadia Naqi’s on AaJ TV as outstanding examples.
Just so I don’t lose all respect for Mr Luqman, I would like to suggest that he hold another program on Mukhtaran Mai, but this time after doing his homework, and after building an understanding of what this case means to the country and to the women of Pakistan.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.