Taroo Maroo: Portraying paedophilia through pop culture is unacceptable

The song is entertaining, however, it suggests paedophilia that maybe prevalent but is certainly unacceptable.

Ayesha Asghar December 11, 2012
The singer, Ali Gul Pir who released the hilarious track, Waderai ka beta, rose to fame due to the eccentric criticism he poked at the feudal system of Pakistan. He mocked them in a very witty matter and won the hearts of many. Recently, he has released a new video, Taroo Maroo, which mirrors the street harassment that is prevalent in Pakistan, in terms of the way Pakistani men stare.

You can view the video here

No doubt, the video is great in terms of its distinctiveness and entertainment. Taroo Maroo reveals the perspective of any Pakistani man. Pir represents an unconventional ideology that compliments his good observation skills and highlights his passion for standup comedy. However, what is interesting to note here is the underlying meaning; disguised sexuality.

I won't lie; I was extremely disgusted when I saw that little girl staring in to the video camera when Pir says "Bachi bi tarron". This really bothered me. Was it absolutely necessary to represent this little girl as someone who is a victim of “taroos”?

It sounded like borderline paedophilia to me...

To remain objective, I decided to introduce a discussion about this topic and collect insightful feedback from other critics. I would like to share one response here:

Below, is my collective response to all the men involved including the director of the video who obviously didn't see Taroo Maroo as promotion of borderline paedophilia!

I don’t think you understand the dynamics of children and their portrayal in the media. Children are one of the most vulnerable functions of society; especially children in Pakistan. They are sexualised, traded, sexually exploited and subject to prostitution in every other corner.

There are no laws in Pakistan that protect children in this way.

Children unlike adults are not in a position to be entitled to consent. They are not privileged to give their consent because of their age and lack of awareness. To be in a position to offer one's consent on anything, you need to be in an equal power dynamic.

For the most part, children who are sexually harassed are not even aware of what else is happening within their own environment.

Paedophilia is one of the most horrendous crimes where the psychological aspect of a child is completely destroyed. The way a child is shown in this video is a very unfortunate, yet a common occurrence in Pakistan. Aside from this depiction, this video could also pain those who are survivors of child abuse by triggering repressed memories.

What is most worrying however, is that by the recognition of the sexualisation of children in the mainstream Pakistani media and by making fun of it, the message conveyed is that of acceptance. Now, this is where it gets really dangerous.

I think this video was posted as satire and didn’t mean to cause any harm, but this image of the girl is a huge risk on its own. Our male population, will mistake this as being “popular” and thus, not a bad thing to do at all.

All of this is not say that I hated the entire video. All I am trying to convey is that the video would have still made the same impact without the portrayal of this young girl.

I am actually deeply disappointed with the director and singer Ali Gul Pir. He needs to realise that many people idolise him, and if something has his stamp of approval, it will be widely practised without any critical thought. I think the courageous thing to do here is issue an apology and remove the child from the video. There are various other ways to talk about child abuse without legitimising, glamorising and normalising it. Use your reach to preach something good, Pir!

I believe that portraying paedophilia through pop culture and music videos is just not acceptable. It just gives the impression that all of this is fashionable and consequently, acceptable and even funny.

Look for an alternative. Children should not be the butt of your jokes.

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Read more by Ayesha here, or follow her on Twitter @ashsultana 
Ayesha Asghar A socialist who works as a women rights and anti-racism advocate. She tweets @ashsultana
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


mujtaba | 11 years ago | Reply What about those girls who stare at hot guys in the streets ? Why man are always at fault ? Sick mentality you guys have.
Ely | 11 years ago | Reply No, not at all. As if Ali introduced something new which never happened in Pakistan before. Little girls ko tarna is nothing new. Ali is not promoting what you mentioned above in article he was just pointing out the obvious in society.
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