You are willing to ban Udaari, but are you willing to jail the man who molested me?
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.
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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