When will the Pakistani entertainment industry learn to take sensitive topics like harassment and victim blaming seriously?

Mahnoor Jalal

Mahnoor Jalal

Sub-Editor
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While the rest of the world is progressing forward by making compelling stories about women empowerment, the Pakistani entertainment industry keeps going backwards and indulging in the same sexist stereotypes that we have criticized over and over again. This time now, our dramas have shown us that they have little regard for victims of harassment and sexual harassment allegations as proven by the drama Dobara. When it first came on our television screens, women saw it as a welcome change because it centered around a middle-aged woman who was learning to take back control over her life after she was forcefully married to her first husband when she was only 16 years old

But the latest episode has shocked the audience with how quickly Dobara has reverted back to the same old sexist tropes in order to keep progressing the plot. In this episode, the family is against Mehru Nisa’s marriage to Mahir so in an attempt to remove him, the daughter in law accusses Mahir of sexually harassing her. You can watch the clip below:

 

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We cannot help but wonder that was using harassment allegations as a plot device really necessary to accuse Mahir? Especially in a country where women rarely find the courage or have a safe support system to take a stand and call out their abusers publicly, why was including such a triggering thing so necessary? Using the false harassment allegation trope is proof that Pakistani society still hates women and refuses to take their safety and independence seriously, and still keeps championing abusers who exploit their power.

Social media users like Soul Sisters Founder Kanwal Ahmed has also expressed her discontent with this scene in Dobara, by pointing out how it invalidates the efforts of real life victims of harassment and rape

“Drama serial Dobara started off on SUCH a beautiful note – but now using a false allegation of sexual assault as a means to turn the story around is a big no for me. Especially in a society where victims are ALREADY questioned, silenced and accused of lying. Like it was absolutely unnecessary to make the female character use false allegations of sexual assault as a weapon against the male lead. Waisay hi sab ko lagta hai aurtain jhoot bolti hain and this depiction on the highest rated drama of today, strengthens that conspiracy.”