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.

  • Billa Muhammad

    Sorry to hear your plight but this issue will remain for centuries. People in this subcontinent cannot differentiate between right and wrong. We like to hide everything and blame whatever makes news on foreign powers. Afterall ghar ki izzat and mulk ki izzat ka sawal hay. Recommend

  • UzairH

    Child abuse is sadly a part of nearly every human society. The way it is treated culturally however determines to how much extent it is allowed to damage the precious angels. In countries like Pakistan where maintaining a ” pureimage” is more important than fixing important societal evils, the situation is much worse than countries with strong laws and social awareness and a desire to never allow child abuse to occur.

    Kudos to the author for the bravery of sharing her story and curses on those people among us who would rather sweep child abuse under the carpet.Recommend

  • Agha

    Brilliant article. Hope the people of this godforsaken country realize that shame is not in exposing and acknowledging the evil but hiding it.Recommend

  • StopTheTruth

    Actually people sitting in PEMRAA Must be doing this,,, They dont want to create awareness…, So it would cause difficulties for them to fulfill their bad intentions.Recommend

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for writing this. I went through a similar experience. What bothers me the most is the fact that people close their eyes to it like it doesn’t exists. Forget talking about it, they don’t even acknowledge it. By doing this, we are basically telling the kids to not talk about it even if it does happen to them. The message we are sending is ‘Girls don’t tell, Boys don’t cry’.Recommend

  • Sarah

    ZS And that’s also the story of my childhood. Slipping hands inside my kameez and then the pants. It was my aunts husband and I was 7 years old when it first started. God knows how many smiling girls I meet everyday have gone through the same as me, you and many others. For one I jabe vouched never to trust any men for my daughter except the Father. Recommend

  • 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

  • vinsin

    Child sexual abuse can be a crime in any Islamic State. Making that as a crime goes against Jinnah Fourteen Point. Child rights taken away in Pakistan as soon as a male child is born and circumcise and no one says anything.

    Child sexual abuse is done in Pakistan. 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

  • Aadeela

    I think such things should be shown on tv to create awarness in the people so they can protect their children …awarness to the children should also be provided in schools it is high time that we raise our voices against such molestorsRecommend

  • Ssk

    Sorry to hear abt loss…tht loss ws called childhood….i also suffr the situation lyk ds…wen i talk abt it…the main person may father did’nt take notice evn…cx he ws his son frm the frst wyf….nyway…lyf goes on bt some memry could nt get away frm us….nw i jst wnt to take vry gd care ov my children…so em against to bannd ds dramaRecommend

  • Marium

    I totally agree these things r happening in our country but when we show these dramas on tv 80 percent of pakistan population who r uneducated takes it in a diff way .they think these things r right as they r showing on tv. They don’t understand the logic behind these dramas . By seeing these things on tv the small uneducated boy in villages learn these things and then they follow them . When u show these things in movie it’s our choice we go and watch it or not but when it’s showing on tv no one can stop small kids form watching these dramas. In Islam also we r taught parents should teach their children and give them knowledge about these things and build up their confidence. It is parents job not tv to show these things openly and exploit next generation of pakistan. One day they ll start showing blue movies and say they r showing them so plp should know these things r there. I think we should keep our media in limits and educate parents so they can give quality time to their kids and teach them rather then spending whole day in kitty parties lunches and dinners and then expect tv to show and teach our kids .
    I don’t want one day my child cms to me and tells me Kay today teacher told me about sex in school like in western countries excuse me it is my duty and he’s my child and I’m there fr him to tell me what is right and what’s wrong. I don’t want tv to interfere in my duties. Recommend

  • Mash

    Udari=Truth overdose
    Salute to Udari writer who decided to writer on such a common but not yet discussed social issueRecommend

  • Mahi Memon

    The subject of primetime drama should now b diverted from household politics & romance to these kinds of issues to spread awareness. Udaari is a first step taken by its makers to create awareness so it should not be the last step. We all have to raise voice on such issues.
    Udaari should not be banned., as in today’s era even a blood relation is not trustworthy so how can we leave a child with someone not well known. It is reflecting the truth of society not only rural areas, but I bet it is a problem of high socioeconomic class as well…. Unfortunately, our people don’t want to take these problems as a serious threat whereas they are spoiling the future generations.

  • liberal-lubna-fromLahore

    i refuse to believe that a muslim/Pakistani could molest a child that too who happens to be a close relative . Why are you writing this blog now? Why not before? I guess you want to attract attention to your blogs/website and are only feeding off the buzz surrounding Udaari.

    And beta, your mom is right. A family oriented culture like ours cannot tolerate and should not tolerate to watch such bold tv programs at the prime time as they can damage little kids and corrupt minds of the youth.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

  • Samina

    Very well written I just want to say difference between Pakistan & India they showed the same thing openly in discussion in his talk show ppl showed be know about it most of these cases are committed by family or close relative according to statistics it’s high time our country show some reality 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

  • k135

    you say this cuz maybe something like this has never happened to u.. but for those of us who have suffered things like these from uncles and ur own father…i completely agree with the blogRecommend

  • 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

  • Marriem

    i am really happy with this play at least someone highlighted this matter.. its a critical issue of our society where screams of a victim is silenced.. such plays should be presented to increase the awareness as many uneducated people believe that it does not exist in our society.. many of us still have the faded memories of our childhood when ppl around us took advantage of our innocence .. this play can play a significant part by making the parents conscious about the security of their children..Recommend

  • Sk

    Are you serious? Why do we need to “popularize” it? We don’t need to “popularize” it but bring it to the attention of millions of people out there that enough is enough! This is happening; not only to your neighbors son/daughter but perhaps to yours as well and you just don’t know about it??? We need to educate people and the best way to show reality is thru these dramas Cuz they are BOUND to get across to even the poorest , cuz hey, we may not be able to get newspapers or books to educate our selves but we can manage to watch dramas and put that balance in the phone to get our entertainment going, cuz at the end of the day that’s where the priority is right? Wake up guys , wake up; this is reality and it needs to stop now; before it hits your own home; if it hasn’t already…Recommend

  • Rubina

    She answered your question, and I quote ” 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”.Recommend

  • siesmann

    Right !!just like rape,honor killings,acid-throwing,terrorism etc don’t happen in Pakistan?And neither men see porn in Pakistan !!One doesn’t see that one wishes to ignoreRecommend

  • siesmann

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

  • siesmann

    Mullah always wins.As is clear from the above polls,most of society wants societal ills portrayed,but then Mullah is above the societyRecommend

  • siesmann

    How ignorant ?Recommend

  • Nadia Afaqi Zia

    I can only admire your innocence and lack of knowledge on this subject or awareness Mr Awais but step fathers and yes even real fathers have been known to commit this heinous crime. Please just because it hasn’t come to your notice before and hasnt happened to a near or dear one doesnt mean its not reality. Just because you dont have fever but somebody else does…doesnt mean fever is a fiction.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

  • Aga Majid

    Vinsin not his real name,hides behind internet anonymity lives in Australia.He is an RSS Hindu Fanatic. He Should Look into his Hindutva Bajrang Dal run Hindustan own polluted soul.

  • Fatima Jaffar

    What about “roag”? It was an excellent drama too about child sexual abuse. If that wasn’t banned, why udaari? This topic is very important to be discussed openly to bring awareness in people about how they shud educate their children about it and that no one should be trusted blindly when it comes to children’s safety.Recommend

  • Hunter

    Seeing the Drama Brings Back Good Old Memories?
    XD Pretty Soon Theirs Gonna be A Similar Article Protecting Game Of Thrones(Uncensored Version) And The Writer will describes the Realsm of Incest Discovered by them And Won’t want them to Stop Spreading the Light of TruthRecommend

  • 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

  • maazkalim

    Are you talking abou ‘Satyamev Jayate’?? :/Recommend