Udaari: Child abuse is disturbing, but it exists in Pakistan, PEMRA!

Published: May 16, 2016
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Ahsan Khan plays a stepfather with wrong intentions for his stepdaughter. PHOTO: FACEBOOK

In a country where TV channels romanticise rapists and glorify them as misunderstood bad boys and heart breaking heroes; where rape scenes are beautifully choreographed and turned into pieces of art, comes a drama revolving around the issue of child abuse, Udaari.

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XT-TTof9v74

It is written with great sensitivity and moral courage by Farhat Ishtiaq: the maestro who gave us Humsafar and Diyaar-e-dil. It’s produced by Momina Duraid and the Kashf foundation, an NGO aiming towards the economic empowerment of low-income women.

It showcases Imtiaz (Ahsan Khan) who marries his friend’s widow Sajida ‘Sajjo’ (Samiya Mumtaz) and starts developing evil intentions towards his own niece, Meeran (Urwa Hocane) and his step-daughter Zebo.

A few episodes highlight Imtiaz’s disgusting intentions towards these young girls. In one of the episodes, he’s seen acting upon his filthy intents and is seen trying to grab Meeran’s hand, but she manages to run away and save herself.

Having failed with one girl, Imtiaz then turns his attention to Zebo. One of the episodes showcases him staring lecherously at her, while commenting on how she has grown up and how pretty she has become – an interaction that is interrupted when his wife returns home, which probably ended up saving the little girl.

When I heard about the PEMRA notice to Udaari, it shocked me for a second. The first thing I did was watch the episode again, which still didn’t strike me as offensive. It was disturbing, but that’s the point of this drama, isn’t it? What disturbed me even more than the episode were the comments on the articles about the drama.

It was then that I realised something; all those people raising a hue and cry over this drama are definitely clueless about certain issues.

When Meeran runs away from Imtiaz, she goes to her mother Sheedan (Bushra Ansari) and tells her what Imtiaz tried to do to her. Sheedan then heads over to Sajjo’s house, someone she considers a sister, and tells her about Imtiaz and his actions. Sajjo, instead of listening to her, blames Meeran for trying to incite relations with her husband.

This concludes with the women vowing to never talk to one another from then on, ruining their friendship altogether.

Personally, I don’t feel there is much to object to here.

Our society nowadays deals with such issues at regular intervals. Women or girls stay quiet and hide the fact that somebody tried or actually managed to abuse them; they are scared of people not believing them, public humiliation, being looked upon as victims and most of all, people blaming them for it instead.

So what are the objections about?

Was it the lusty manner in which Imtiaz looked at his step-daughter? Did that scene in the drama make you incredibly uncomfortable?

Well, it was supposed to make you feel uncomfortable.

The whole point of it was to evoke emotions of disgust for a man who could look at a little girl like that. It was supposed to make you want to go and snatch Zebo out of Imtiaz’s clutches.

It isn’t ‘ruining pure relationships,’ it is warning people and reminding them to be more careful. It is trying to teach people not to trust anyone with their children – that monsters hide in the most plain and beautiful clothing.

The reason why this bothers me is because I have a friend that was physically harassed when she was eight-years-old; she was returning home from school when a drunk man on the stairs of her building grabbed her, touched her all over and kissed her on the lips.

This bothers me because she was too embarrassed to tell anyone about it.

This bothers me because my friend still has nightmares about it.

This bothers me because it happened in a city in Pakistan.

This bothers me because there must be so many more little girls who have been through this.

And this bothers me because in spite of such huge numbers of reported and God knows how many unreported abuse cases, people still have the audacity to say that dramas like these are creating a bad image of Pakistan.

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Fatima Azhar

Fatima Azhar

The author is a student of Media and Arts who writes to make herself feel better and others feel bad. She tweets @fatmaaazh

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