‘Zainab‘ is a name that is bound to send shivers down any person’s spine. The rape and murder of a little girl from Kasur shook the nation, but apparently became yet another story for telefilm writers. The brutal case of the rape of an underage girl proved to be profitable for the opportunist TV channels of Pakistan who are well capable of crossing all limits in order to garner money and ratings.
Umera Ahmed, a well-known TV drama writer penned down a telefilm based on Zainab’s case, and the title of the film even used Zainab’s name instead of being fictional. The poster for the telefilm was released by A-Plus and it portrayed a child actor wearing the same clothes that Zainab had donned in an old picture. A man is shown grabbing the child’s mouth, with the child’s eyes wide in fear. When one sees the poster, one is shocked with the detailing in the costumes chosen, the grim and bleak background of the poster and the highly exaggerated expressions of both the actors.
Questions are raised in our head. What is meant by this? Is the trauma of a child so cheap that it can be monetized like this? What is the purpose of using the same clothes, what is being symbolized by this? It is very clear from the highly sensationalized poster that the purpose is clear: the rape case gathered attention, and a telefilm on it will turn the same attention into ratings, money, and praise. The telefilm will sell like hot dogs. It is the easiest way to open a franchise that sells merchandise from the wounds of every victim in this country. The message is quite clear; we will use your trauma for our personal gains.
One can only imagine how would every rape victim would feel after watching the film, and how triggering it would be? Do we factor in the parents? How will they feel? Many people defended the channel and writer by saying that they are ‘representing’ the case so that they can spread awareness and reduce the number of rape cases with it.
Is this how awareness is raised? Do we not know the difference between capitalizing on a rape case, by profiting from it, or by making a documentary that raises awareness? The freedom to perpetuate any form of art in society should be dealt with responsibly, especially when you are filling your pockets with someone else’s trauma and a nationwide epidemic. Writers do have the license to take on real-life events and depict them but they should not be highly exaggerated or created in a way that triggers memories of other victims and their families.
Umera Ahmed has been known for her novels and dramas, but a critical look at them shows how they are misogynist and problematic. Ranging from being anti-Ahmedi to glorifying domestic abuse, the writer supports silence and compromise from a woman’s end which is absolutely disempowering for a country like Pakistan that is already steeped in too many problems.
A similar case of sensationalism was witnessed in the depiction of Qandeel Baloch’s murder in the serial ‘Baaghi’. The very same TV channels who refused to hire her to fulfill her dreams used her name and story to earn money on a large scale.
Zainab’s parents have decided to sue the TV channel, as their consent and permission was not sought-after before creating this telefilm.
“The TV channel did not bother to seek my permission. I would not allow anyone to use the name of my daughter for one’s vested interest” –Amin Ansari, Zainab’s Father.
Along with this, we need to report to PEMRA on a larger scale in order to stop this telefilm from being released altogether!! It is our responsibility, to stop these channels from trivializing something as serious as rape and focus more on punishing victims instead of playing with their emotions and distracting everyone from the main case.
This is NOT raising awareness and I’m glad people agree!
It will badly hurt the parents who suffered & gone through this trauma.. this is wrong way to spread awareness.. what awareness?? The culprits will watch?? Or the kids will understand?? ? #ZainabKQatil
— Khawar Akram (@eaglefleet) May 8, 2018
Alot of us have lodged complaints against APlus's drama 'zainab k qatil' on the PEMRA complaint portal as well….please take notice and take action!
— Sunbul Hassan (@sunbul_hassan) May 9, 2018