You are willing to ban Udaari, but are you willing to jail the man who molested me?

Published: May 25, 2016

To the blissfully unaware, conveniently ignorant and pathetically indifferent people out there: stop silencing.

It was a paralysing scene; a moment where lust, hunger and greed, all were entwined. It was when Imtiaz held Zebo’s little hands – a gesture which was seemingly innocent and affectionate, but paradoxically brought to light his malicious intent. His lingering gaze on the child, and his words with sexual undertones immediately replaced the gentle loving father with a man falling prey to his own animalistic traits. This was all PEMRA could take, and me too.

Our reasons, of course, were different; for PEMRA it was truth-overdose. For me, it brought back memories. My eyes were transfixed on the screen, but my mind was wandering. Suddenly, it seemed as if they were enacting my life.

I was around nine-years-old and while I was spending the night at my aunt’s place, I felt her husband’s hand slowly slide inside my shirt…

That night was only the beginning. For years I quietly endured the abuse meted out by my uncle. He would fondle me and whisper words of gross affection in my ears. Just like a refined, methodical abuser, he too, continued to agonise me. He did not stop at those revolting gestures. After the physical abuse, he would inflict mental torture. Sometimes, in the quietness of the night, with everyone sleeping, he would take me to the darkest corner of the house, and hand his phone to me. From the screen, nude men and women, stared at me. At other instances, even broad daylight would not scare him from disappearing with me, for another round of ‘educating’ me.

Fast forward into my teenage years; guilt, pain, sadness, gloom, and penetrating darkness consumed me. I became wise beyond my years, as I was forced to mature so soon. Life was not normal. My days were spent maintaining the façade of normalcy, my nights were restless. Over the years the memory has become more and more vague. I can’t exactly pin point when, why, and how, but eventually the abuse stopped. Yet, even now, his lecherous gaze numbs my entire being.

I couldn’t speak about it then. I remain speechless even now. Life has not been normal ever since that traumatic night. I bore this emotional burden because I belong to a close-knit family, where relationships are everything. I was too scared that my confession would mean ripping apart this big, happy family.

I snapped back to the present.

I watched in horror; the words were the same. The ravenousness was the same. And the prey’s innocence, too, was the same. The only difference was that Zebo was able to escape the vicious hungry beast in that episode – I wasn’t.

 “God! Now they’ve banned Udaari? Are they even serious?” I shrieked.

My mother was sitting with me on the lunch table and asked me why. That was all I needed to explode.

“Because they can’t handle the truth!” I couldn’t lower the pitch of my voice.

“You know they are right in banning it. Beta, such content is not suitable for a prime-time drama,” she said in a hushed, mellow voice, as if she didn’t want anybody else to hear the conversation.

Something inside me snapped.

When people from educated families, like my own mother, laud PEMRA for banning the serial, it’s evident that there is something sickeningly wrong with this country.

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And she’s not alone – her thinking is shared by many in a country that’s plagued by this monstrosity. Our country is one where people have a penchant for brushing issues under the carpet. Here people are not ready to accept reality, accept the fact that child sexual abuse is very much real and prevalent. Our parents are those that refuse to educate us on such matters, blatantly avoiding opening their eyes. Here nobody is ready to talk. And those who dare to speak are conveniently silenced.

It is so easy for us to close our eyes, and bar reality from entering them. We are the people who casually dismiss child sexual abuse as a problem of the infidel West, or that of the deviant India. We, the inhabitants of the ‘Land of the Pure’, deem ourselves free from all these ‘evils’, and sometimes even give ourselves a pat on the back for keeping our society away from all this. We even praise the Lord and claim to be blessed.

I write this today, because Udaari’s subject matter is relatable to so many. It’s because I know how important it is to talk about such issues. And in a country like Pakistan, where prime-time dramas dominate the scene, using them as a medium to spread awareness is the wisest thing to do. Watching that episode of Udaari did not only make those disturbing memories come back, but it also gave me hope that maybe somewhere, somehow, after watching this a parent may become vigilant, that maybe someone will make a conscious effort of monitoring their children and the shifts in their behaviour.

And now, the self-aggrandising inhabitants of this country want to snatch away that optimism from me too.

To the blissfully unaware, conveniently ignorant and pathetically indifferent people out there: stop silencing. This is not just about Udaari, which tried to shove some reality down your throat, but it is about your children; those children you proudly paint as your future. Protect their innocence, because you can. It will be easy for people to label this as the venting of a troubled person who had a tragic childhood, disregarding it as a rare happening. Of course, you can’t accept that it happens a lot in Pakistan. I mean it is just a few heretics who commit such crimes. Even those 10726 reported cases of child sexual abuse, mentioned in Sahil’s report, is a blatant lie – an attempt to malign Pakistan by these foreign-funded NGOs…

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The author wishes to remain anonymous. She is an aspiring meliorist, who finds hope in the words of Faiz.

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

  • Lala Mustafa Soomro

    To the author.
    You are so brave for opening up. I trully appreciate your effort and courage.I just want you to know that you have a supporter in me. God bless you.Recommend

  • shahid khan

    Sorry about what happened to you , you should fight to get justice and we are with you but saying that showing what bad things can happen to people is justice to no one , it is just nonsense, people are well aware what horrible things can happen to people and many millions want to stop one just need to ask for their support and to get their support you don’t need to show to them what happened to you or even disclose your name.
    I think of all people you should no why this type of tv serials should never be allowed to save the victims from a great trauma. Why do we need to popularize the criminals ? and acts of crime. I don’t get it.Recommend

  • TR

    Why do we prefer to live in denial, abd create taboo topics. The more a topic makes you uncomfortable it goes to show its a serious social issue. Child molestation, sexual harassment , child pornography etc need a vigilant and a strict action of the law. No offender should go scotfree. Awareness is key …which is coming good through UDARI… and talking openly and exposing such criminals and then teaching young girls and boys how to identify people who make you uncomfortable by their sexist remarks(passes) and touches and to report such acts in solitary by the offenders….. is the need of this time. Good job Hum tv and Kashaf foundation!!Recommend

  • fayza

    Such truth ‘It is so easy for us to close our eyes, and bar reality from entering them. We are the people who casually dismiss child sexual abuse as a problem of the infidel West, or that of the deviant India. We, the inhabitants of the ‘Land of the Pure’, deem ourselves free from all these ‘evils’, and sometimes even give ourselves a pat on the back for keeping our society away from all this. We even praise the Lord and claim to be blessed’. U couldn’t have said it better. All praise for such courage to come out and write about your ordeal. More power to you and may Allah give you the strength to overcome and get rid of your nightmarish past. Ameen.Recommend

  • munira mustafa

    Im so sorry to hear your story. God bless us all from this evil. Recommend

  • rabia

    I am astonished , why pemra doesnt take any action against shows full of vulgar shows n dances. Moreover i recently watched a drama name “besharam” on Ary… having a scene of industrialist’s get together and one of them was asking to call a model for night enjoyment n were drinking winee too. I never heard about any kinda notification from pemra for such dramas n shows even for any morning show for reason of spreading vulgarity n destroying own culture. As for as drama Udaari is concerned it portrays a dark, bitter but a real societal issue than why it should be banned? Recommend

  • Imran Khan

    Expose these evil men , put them in JailRecommend

  • Fatima

    Salam! First of all I’m really sorry for what happened to you. May Allah swt heal your scar. For what you wrote actually, I had like to say that I didn’t like to watch this serial at all. Hated it honestly because of what I sensed it was about to potray. However the way you said the Problem is THERE. We can’t close our eyes towards it. In my opinion a major problem lies in the fact that parents are too busy to be parents. A parent should be a best friend to their child. So that if the child feels anything unsual they instantly report it to them. If one is not friends with their child then the child suffers extremely. Sister may Allah swt give you strength and keep on fighting! And just because a huge part of your childhood was tarnished, don’t ever stop believing in the fact that there is good in this world too. Love you! Recommend

  • Rabia Ahmed Sikandar

    Its sad but true at the same time. Even the idea of harassment is hard to communicate within the families, as many unaware of this concept don’t even believe in it. I have also come across some horrible episodes within my close family but culprits still are there, and victims are always blamed whereas such monsters are protected. We need to speak up, it could be our own child. Lets join hands and save our children.Recommend

  • Adil

    well i selected disagree – as the method adopted in Udaari is not suitable , but i agree that awareness through simple educations in schools and in parent teachers must be given – though 50% of our kids dont go schools – its time to give simple public service messages – like never let your kids , mingle , sleep overnight with other sex relative – that is why islam prohibits sleeping together of sleeping brothers and sisters together when they reach at the age of 6 or 7 –Recommend

  • Mubaraka Murtaza

    This is for awareness to people who dont want to accept the reality. It should not be banned. People should be all eyes to such acts.Recommend

  • Ambreen Iqbal

    This article is giving words to my feelings on the subject. I applaud the writer and implore the people to open their eyes to this horrific ongoing abuse of innocence.Recommend

  • siltenone

    I was the victim and so does more than half the girls of my Muslim country. Some lightly some badly. I was molested as child by my own chacha and cousins the number is more than 5. Even when I was 15 my chacha almost attacked me rubbing his genitals against my back when I ran towards my roof and locked the door from inside. To mention I belong to a very educated family so does my chacha. That day I explode because I wasn’t a child anymore and my mother couldn’t believe me as if I was misunderstanding. I hated men since then because and I still hate all those lusty b*s****s who ruined my life and still at the age of 33 I can’t come out of this and there is no help out there ..Recommend

  • Uroosa

    Well said Recommend

  • Awais

    With all due respect to author and I do sympathize with her for whatever happened to her in her teenage, But she was abused by her uncle. But in Udhaari it was her father that tried to abuse her. We should respect some relations and Father Daughter relation is one of them most sacred relation,
    you cannot compare it with your case. So point here is we do not have any issues for highlighting theses types of problems but some relation should be respected which hasn’t been done in this serial.Recommend

  • siesmann

    If you don’t like it,don’t see it;Putting a problem under the rug is no solution at all.Recommend

  • siesmann

    How ignorant ?Recommend

  • Anonymous

    To spread awareness so people can teach their kids how to act in such situations or how they should trust their parents so much to tell them if something is wrong. But the kids would not know the wrong unless they are told its wrong. If you would have been a victim, you would know. Recommend

  • anny

    I think the only people in society and PEMRA who cannot handle the truth or pro banning this drama must be peodaphiles or child molesters them selves, that’s why they cannot see their own mirror. Recommend

  • Anonymous

    She is absolutely correct and this cruelty and abuse is everywhere in our society even in our home and no one listens to us bothers our screams but till when a helpless girlRecommend