Of celebrity sex tapes and right to privacy

Published: May 15, 2014

Actress Meera and her now ex fiancé Captain Naveed. PHOTO: FILE

Meera has been in the news for all the wrong reasons; her every word is dissected, every move analysed and every action judged. So when an alleged sex tape with her now ex fiancé Captain Naveed became a collection in everyone’s mobile phones, the reaction was nothing startling.

Most blamed it as a desperate publicity stunt to nourish a floundering career and some empathised with the trauma the ‘leak’ may have caused to the couple. Mubashir Luqman dedicated a show on this alleged sex tape that added fuel to the fire. But debate on another pertinent question was absent in all this; is she not entitled to a private life? Does being a celebrity or a public face strip her of this right?

Now a few months later, history is repeating itself. Few videos of a Pakistani drama actress are doing the rounds. In one, she is video-taping a request to her lover to contact her. In others, she is using a certain food item for a purpose, it is not meant for. To clarify, I don’t condone the action. The name is also deliberately withheld out of respect for her privacy and to not repeat Mubashir Luqman’s mistake. Let us also not repeat the mistake of ignoring the same important question. Does this actress not deserve her right to privacy for something like that?

As has been proved, fame often comes at a price. Paparazzi lurk around like shadows, private data is hacked and phones are tapped. The News of the World saga is also a prime example where private space of 3000 international public figures was intruded to further corporate interests. Hugh Grant, Britney Spears and Sienna Miller were some of the many victims of this powerful tabloid until it was forced to pay damages and shut down.

The last edition of News of the World newspaper goes on sale alongside other British Sunday newspapers in London July 9, 2011. Photo: Reuters

Perhaps it can be argued that public figures have only a limited right to privacy by virtue of their profession. Their relationship with the media and public is not exclusive of one another. Agreed, some public faces also use the media to bare a part of their private life to further specific interests. That then, the media and public may also have a right to infringe their private life, also goes without saying. Despite such circumstances, isn’t there a dire need to draw the line somewhere?

Is a couple’s privately shot sex tape entitled to disseminate until it becomes the subject of national debate and ridicule? Should acts carried out in the privacy of an individual’s bedroom become a public collectable, or topless pictures of Britain’s princess become front page jewels?

Clearly we have become entertainment starved people who want to explore and discuss the life of others. Add anything sexual and you have ingredients for a successful wildfire that may cost its victims their dignity and self-respect, but lots of steam and warmth for a cold, unfeeling society. The morality of celebrities is questioned for their documented and undocumented private acts. But are people who initially infringe their right to privacy to gather and spread such data for their vested interest above any scrutiny for their immoral act?

The case of News of the World reached its deserved end because of effective legislation and a speedy justice system. But it is the other way around in our part of the world. Arrest warrants are issued against victims who have their privacy infringed. In such a situation, there is a need to draw a line for self-censorship all the more. Everyone has skeletons in their closets and deserve to keep them hidden.


Sabeer Lodhi

The author is studying at Monash University, Melbourne. He is a student and supporter of human rights with a focus on gender equality, minority rights and feminism. He tweets as @sabeerlodhi (twitter.com/sabeerlodhi)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Necromancer

    Can some one please tell me the name of the Pakistani Drama Actress the author mentioned, I think I have seen it but because I am not aware of current drama actors of Pakistan I haven’t recognized her, your help in this regard will be highly appreciated……..Recommend

  • q

    Sofia Ahmad. Your welcomeRecommend

  • Asadullah Soomro

    lol that is meeraRecommend

  • Critical

    “Few videos of a Pakistani drama actress are doing the rounds. In one, she is video-taping a request to her lover to contact her. In others, she is using a certain food item for a purpose, it is not meant for.”

    Unlike most of the writers in ET Blog,looks like you have extensive research before writing ;)Recommend

  • Critical

    ” your help in this regard will be highly appreciated……..”Recommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/author/1209/asad-k/ Xeric

    Worried of privacy? Dont tape the **** that you do in private!Recommend

  • Ilovethesevideos

    take aff yor shert!Recommend

  • Jehanzeb Mahar

    And the food item is a carrotRecommend

  • Kiran

    When people know we are living in the age where it is extremely difficult for famous people to keep their private lives private, why shoot such videos in the first place ? If it is recorded ( no matter by whom ) chances are, it will eventually be leaked ( could be done by anyone, even the ex-husband or ex-fiancé ) than why take such risks ? Specially since we come from a society where the moral codes are really strict, making such videos with your fiancé or boyfriend is like you are asking for trouble.
    And why record such private and intimate videos on the cell phones, when we all know cell phones can be easily stolen, snatched and lost ? I am sorry but I don’t think making such videos on the phone is a good idea to begin with.Recommend

  • N J

    What nonsense is this? Why Actresses in Pakistan have to copy Hollywood? When you make videos showing yourself naked and you know that is being made the purpose behind is not “oh we’ll watch it together”. It is bound to circulate and people whether Mubashar Luqman or ordinary citizens will comment about it. There is no privacy left when you, yourself exposing your private parts or privacy.
    I believe the author should write about why copying Hollywood Nudity life style? Aren’t gang-rape cases and other heinous cases happening on daily basis in a conservative society? The reason is when you open Pandora’s Box then you have to face consequences as an individual and as a society whole.

    Lastly….I also want to know Dram Actress name….who shot her video with her …. buddy.Recommend

  • AAHS

    You don’t condone the act. So it is permissible to be using it? Allah o akbar. It is totally wrong to spread someone’s sins and be a scandal monger but hey i thought your name implied as a muslim and the one who follows religion of prophet mohammad saw. Where did the “right to privacy go”. If western agents were planning on kidnapping your family and somebody leaks the video to you? can they defend the act seeking the “right to privacy” or you would have condoned their act?

    God helps those who help themselves but truly we are not helping our own selves at all. Allah He HafizRecommend

  • Sultan N Khan

    Such acts in ‘those societies'(sometimes deliberatey) pulicised to gain popularity.But in our culture such activities are not acceptable to a majority of our ppl…So the ‘actors’ should ensure to keep their such ‘events’ hidden from public eyes..Recommend

  • Mughees

    Sorry saber, she is given some limitations by PEMRA and she should respect them. If we say that we are a religious state than we have to limit freedom and rights upto some extent. Liberating freedom can never helps us to achieve the religious goals of societyRecommend

  • Aaly

    Your “clarification” that you don’t condone the “action” must’ve made you feel “enlightened” and “moderated”!!! What a shame!!!Recommend

  • Sabeer

    Please tell me how is PEMRA relevant in dealing with circulation of private videos!? We are talking about videos that are privately shot and then distributed for vested interests.Recommend

  • Sabeer Lodhi

    Sir, it is funny to see you acting as judgemental moral brigade yet want to know the name of that actress.

    There is privacy when the video is shot for personal viewing and there is no way you can compare increased rape cases with such videos. Rapes happen for different reasons altogether! You’re comparing apples with oranges.Recommend

  • Sabeer Lodhi

    This might bring my statement in perspective for you. I reiterate, “I don’t condone it!”

    Oxford Dictionary: “Accept and allow (behavior that is considered morally wrong or offensive) to continue”Recommend

  • thekhomi

    Religious goals of society. *Facepalm.*Recommend

  • http://think-islam.blogspot.com/ PostMan

    First thing first, a personal video leaked – be that of an ordinary citizen or a celebrity should not be treated differently. Celebrities should not be given preferential treatment regarding privacy just because they are public figures. Now there can be two scenarios here:

    1 – The video was leaked inadvertently by the parties involved. In this case, the risk was already accepted by the parties involved that such thing can happen and unfortunately you will not be able to do anything about it.

    2 – The video was leaked intentionally. If it was to help increase ones ‘ratings’, then let everyone see what they wanted to show. If it was done with mal-intention, then recourse should be available to the aggrieved parties to persuade websites to remove the content. But since we live in ‘The’ Islamic Republic so ‘haha’ to my preceding suggestion.

    Lastly, there should be someone who could analyze the ‘Analysts’ on all media that seem to carry the moral torch everywhere criticizing people for their personal acts. I mean scum like Mubasshar Luqman need to be dissected just as they do with the people and create hype. Remember Myra Khan? She was given a nice dose.Recommend

  • JanuuuChatooMaiArahiHun

    Before some thousand years ago our
    ancestors did not lock and hide themselves
    In rooms to love with each other.
    We people of today are not normal that is why
    our attitude towards sexuality is abnormal,
    and hasty.


  • Nobody

    Restricting people’s freedoms has not done anything in terms of achieving religious goals in any society either; it has, in fact, done quite the opposite. And why is it up to an entire society to achieve religious goals as opposed to an individual?Recommend