When will we grow past our fetish of in-laws strictly surveilling the lives of newly weds?

Is there no end to it?

Mahnoor Jalal

Mahnoor Jalal

Sub-Editor
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Put a finger down for a every time you watched a Pakistani drama which showed a healthy and loving relationship between a woman and her in-laws. Can’t recall anything like it? Our sentiments are the same.

Pakistani audiences are left baffled once more by how low television drama’s love to stoop when it comes to proving that women are nothing but one-dimensional beings ready to be abused and manipulated by their family members. Yesterday two Pakistani bloggers pointed out this misogyny by¬† sharing screen clips of the Pakistani drama “Mujhay Vida Kar” where the in-laws are shown to be furious at the bride all because of the fact that she has gone on her honeymoon with her husband after her marriage! Like have we really stooped this low that even a honeymoon cannot be tolerated, women must immediately get to handling all of the manual labor and shun any chances of building a good relationship with their husband?

Pakistani dramas are teaching us that marriages aren’t built up from love and respect for one another but on complete humiliation and abuse of the daughter. The saas- bahu fighting trope is common among some of the most popular dramas in this nation, because it has completely cemented this belief in our minds that marriages are only to bring in a woman to handle all of the chores of the household, and to act as the new nanny for the husband now that his parents are old. Think back to drama’s like Naand, which spanned on for 150 episodes depicting a sister-in-law who was jealous of the attention the new brides got from her brothers, so she plots to sabotage their marriages completely. “Humsafar” which is still lauded as one of the best drama’s to come out our nation but the entire plot was about a mother-in-law accusing the wife of cheating and having a baby and then kicks her out of the house because of it.

So when women put their foot down and say that marriage is not one of our goals to accomplish or when we protest in the streets and the internet demanding for a woman who has been abused by her in-laws to receive justice, don’t call us “liberals” or “pagal feminists” and instead make an effort to call out the content that encourages this misogynist mindset. For so long, women have repeatedly condemned producers and writers who keep recycling the same sexist tropes and instead of listening, these people have said that they are “entertainers”, who are not concerned with educating their audiences since they don’t run a school. But this is the audience that is being educated by watching these shows, in a country where women are abused in their homes, beaten up by their husbands, and sent home when they give birth to daughters.

This is the content that is fueling the misogynist mindset and we need to start with fixing the flawed representation of women onscreen help eradicate the growing gender inequality in our country.

We can start by supporting local shows like this short film “Daughter by law” which reminds us that marriages do not need to depend on breaking down another woman in order to build up one, but they can be built on mutual love and respect between the wife and her in-laws.