Udaari: Child abuse is disturbing, but it exists in Pakistan, PEMRA!

The whole point of it was to evoke disgust for a man who could look at a little girl like that.

Fatima Azhar May 16, 2016
In a country where TV channels romanticise rapists and glorify them as misunderstood bad boys and heart breaking heroes; where rape scenes are beautifully choreographed and turned into pieces of art, comes a drama revolving around the issue of child abuse, Udaari.


It is written with great sensitivity and moral courage by Farhat Ishtiaq: the maestro who gave us Humsafar and Diyaar-e-dil. It’s produced by Momina Duraid and the Kashf foundation, an NGO aiming towards the economic empowerment of low-income women.

It showcases Imtiaz (Ahsan Khan) who marries his friend’s widow Sajida ‘Sajjo’ (Samiya Mumtaz) and starts developing evil intentions towards his own niece, Meeran (Urwa Hocane) and his step-daughter Zebo.

A few episodes highlight Imtiaz’s disgusting intentions towards these young girls. In one of the episodes, he’s seen acting upon his filthy intents and is seen trying to grab Meeran’s hand, but she manages to run away and save herself.

Having failed with one girl, Imtiaz then turns his attention to Zebo. One of the episodes showcases him staring lecherously at her, while commenting on how she has grown up and how pretty she has become – an interaction that is interrupted when his wife returns home, which probably ended up saving the little girl.

When I heard about the PEMRA notice to Udaari, it shocked me for a second. The first thing I did was watch the episode again, which still didn’t strike me as offensive. It was disturbing, but that’s the point of this drama, isn’t it? What disturbed me even more than the episode were the comments on the articles about the drama.

It was then that I realised something; all those people raising a hue and cry over this drama are definitely clueless about certain issues.

When Meeran runs away from Imtiaz, she goes to her mother Sheedan (Bushra Ansari) and tells her what Imtiaz tried to do to her. Sheedan then heads over to Sajjo’s house, someone she considers a sister, and tells her about Imtiaz and his actions. Sajjo, instead of listening to her, blames Meeran for trying to incite relations with her husband.

This concludes with the women vowing to never talk to one another from then on, ruining their friendship altogether.

Personally, I don’t feel there is much to object to here.

Our society nowadays deals with such issues at regular intervals. Women or girls stay quiet and hide the fact that somebody tried or actually managed to abuse them; they are scared of people not believing them, public humiliation, being looked upon as victims and most of all, people blaming them for it instead.

So what are the objections about?

Was it the lusty manner in which Imtiaz looked at his step-daughter? Did that scene in the drama make you incredibly uncomfortable?

Well, it was supposed to make you feel uncomfortable.

The whole point of it was to evoke emotions of disgust for a man who could look at a little girl like that. It was supposed to make you want to go and snatch Zebo out of Imtiaz’s clutches.

It isn’t ‘ruining pure relationships,’ it is warning people and reminding them to be more careful. It is trying to teach people not to trust anyone with their children – that monsters hide in the most plain and beautiful clothing.

The reason why this bothers me is because I have a friend that was physically harassed when she was eight-years-old; she was returning home from school when a drunk man on the stairs of her building grabbed her, touched her all over and kissed her on the lips.

This bothers me because she was too embarrassed to tell anyone about it.

This bothers me because my friend still has nightmares about it.

This bothers me because it happened in a city in Pakistan.

This bothers me because there must be so many more little girls who have been through this.

And this bothers me because in spite of such huge numbers of reported and God knows how many unreported abuse cases, people still have the audacity to say that dramas like these are creating a bad image of Pakistan.

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Fatima Azhar The author is a student of Media and Arts who writes to make herself feel better and others feel bad. She tweets @fatmaaazh
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Anon | 8 years ago | Reply Children rather lose their innocence when they are molested without knowing how to act and who to tell, just because this topic is all "hush-hush"! I'd rather want my child to recognize the malicious intent of people! And the 'uncomfortable' Q&A session would at least help clarify the concepts of good touch and bad touch! A concept many learn after facing a very traumatic ordeal!
liberal-lubna-fromLahore | 8 years ago | Reply I agree with PEMRA's ban. First of all, there are no TV SHOWS type entertainment that we enjoy in the West. You like a show, you follow it season by season, you watch it wherever the hell you want and it is just a time spent between YOU and the show alone, no one else involved. In Pakistan, there is only form of entertainment and that is the prime time drama made for the whole household. Your grandmas, nieces, kids, uncles aunties everybody sits down to watch the show together. Combined that with no system of tv show ratings, no PG notices and not having specific types of channels for specific kinds of entertainment, and you have a lethal combination. And quite honestly, I dont recall child abuse subject being shown in Western prime time shows. Most pakistani household have 1 TV set and Typical Pakistani housewives like to watch TV in front of their little kids as they cant manage to put them to sleep first and then watch bold dramas like Udaari alone. They are surrounded by little kids all THE time and they are far from being tech savvy to watch tv shows on phones, ipads, online etc when kids are not around. So my issue is as they watch such bold subject matters on prime TV WITH their children, then kids get exposed to wrong ideas of life from a young age no matter how important or truthful that subject is! I like many kids who grew up in Pakistan can vividly recall lying in our moms laps while she watched her 9pm favorite PTV drama that she had bee anticipating to watch all day. Kids are innocent and vulnerable and they dont deserve to be matured earlier than they are supposed to be. If I had been exposed to a drama like Udaari when I was a kid, I would have been terrified of almost every distant relative of mine and thats a wrong MESSAGE. This would have then followed by an uncomfortable QnA session with parents. Hence, you have to look at this ban in view of Pakistani society compromising of an entertainment starved nation, lack of education, vulnerable children and desi housewives not being able to manage children while watching TV. So while Udaari is a great drama, till the Western TV Show system or a TV rating system is not introduced in Pakistan or Pakistani housewives are not educated about how to watch such dramas without children, the ban is understandable in view of our kids safety! We need these tools in Pakistan because of the way of tv show infrastructure is set up! Let kids be kids but also let adults learn about evils of society. Im all for lifting the ban from this show as long a tv channel just for bold subjects is introduced so that would give pakistai women the choice what they ca and cannot watch with their children. And I dont understand why child molesters cant just be persecuted by law, thrown in jail etc instead of having to make a prime time drama about it for the masses - SAD!
Anonymous | 8 years ago 'Ban is understandable in view of our kids safety?!' - Your really full of it. or maybe you've never experienced anything like this so you think you can live in your bubble and have your kids live in it too.. Well, good for you! This happened to me. I grew up in Pakistan, not in a uneducated rural family. but a well educated family in Karachi. but it still happened and I was scared to tell anyone cuz I didn't know what the hell was happening. I wish someone had educated me on this, I wish someone had told to TALK about it and not keep quite. I wish I could 'understand' at that time that it was not normal.. So I beg to differ, In view of our kids safety, a ban is totally NOT understandable! You are right, kids are innocent and vulnerable, that is more of a reason to teach them about this. You need to teach your kids to not be afraid of every relative.. but RECOGNIZE when to stay away from someone. If we don't teach our kids how to differentiate between how someone approaches you, little boys and girls will keep going through this horrible experience. And let's face it, PERMA banning it and people like you closing your eyes to it really won't stop child molesters from reaching to kids. The only way we can have some control over this issues is if we get out of our comfort zone and open up about this issue, acknowledge it as a huge problem in our society and educate our children on boundaries and when to speak up. One thing that actually really made me sad about your post is when you said "this would have then followed by an uncomfortable QnA session with parents" - Are you really that worried about your own comfort zone that you'd rather have your kids fall prey to worse kind of mental and physical torture out there?! All in all, I believe 'in view of our kids safety', parents need to start having uncomfortable QnA sessions with their kids!! Banning Udaari won't make your kids any safer.
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