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Portrayal of Female Harassment Issues in TV Dramas Essay

The values of gender equality are promoted among all countries all over the world. Women have become more economically strong and independent even in South Asian region. Media has played a vital role in molding the opinions and providing a sigh of relief to the suppressed women folk. The relationship of women and media is very important as media transforms the real picture of women and their core issues in front of the public through its programs and TV dramas.

Media broadcasts important messages on women harassment issues, domestic violence, gender bias, stories of mental torture and gender norms through various TV dramas, talk shows and magazine shows. Keywords: Domestic violence, mental torture, gender harassment, faith, religious strength, patience, tolerance. Introduction Pakistani media has become very liberal, moderate and independent since 2001. Media has played a vital role in molding the opinions of the people and providing a sigh of relief to suppressed women of our society.

The relationship between woman and media is very important as media presents the real picture of women issues among of the public. Pakistani media is growing with 60 private TV networks and 12 FM radio channels. Media transmits women domestic harassment, violence, mental torture, rape cases through talk shows and TV dramas. Our TV channels represent all cultural and social bindings of women so the audience can digest them without criticism. In some TV dramas, the Islamic values and trends are also projected.

Mostly Pakistani dramas are centered especially on ‘women’ shown as mothers, sisters and wives. Women are critical to almost each and every story. Majority of Pakistani dramas today are a strange mix of growth and regress while some serials do carry a liberal, progressive and gender-sensitive messages. Most of them strengthen the patriarchal values and criticize orthodoxy in the same stride. It is very difficult for the general public to understand the conflicting messages behind several storylines in the modern-day drama.

Working women are depicted as strong and independent but also negatively is portrayed by their cunning and vampire-like nature. Women are shown being maltreated by men i. e. slapped, beaten up, humiliated, abused and conversely, men are depicted as the exclusive decision-makers who simply order the women in their lives around, telling them what to do or what not to do. One point is extremely worrying about such scenes depicting male dominance and male chauvinism as they invoke similar negative behavior especially among males in the general public.

The ordinary man or woman becomes subject to this reinforcement of stereotypical images of women and adapts and accepts these stereotypes as normal and natural. Honour is depicted often in highly distorted contexts. A brother’s or father’s reaction when a sister or daughter is suspected of immorality is portrayed in such a manner that the crime is glorified and the victim condemned. Very rarely, do these serials convey the idea that ‘honour’ does not have a physical manifestation and is purely related to a person’s character. Honour can never be taken away by the use of force.

Overly negative emotions attached to having a daughter-in-law. Words and phrases constantly refer to the presence of a daughter-in-law as an individual who will take far away son from his parents. The expressions of insecurity is attached with parents as they do not want to lose their boy after getting married neither they want to allow him being very close to his wife. Connected to this patriarchal approach is the issue of a divorced woman. The blame is placed squarely on the woman for not being able to keep her marriage intact or her husband happy.

A woman who asks for a divorce is portrayed as committing an unpardonable act. In some cases, divorced is given by husbands on suspect of shaky character of women at family level. In Pakistan even today, young girls are forcefully married to old men under the tradition of ‘Family Marriages/Vani’. Sometimes girls are married with old men as their brothers or father has killed someone in bridegroom’s family due to enmity i. e. Fata, North Waziristan, South Waziristan. The top most watched TV channel is GEO TV Network owned by Jang Group of Publications and was launched in 2002. Geo

TV is news based and an entertainment channel. Rationale The present paper will highlight the relationship between gender and media with reference of Pakistani TV Drama Serial titled as “Meri Zaat Zarra-e-Benishan” that went on air on GEO TV in 2009. The rationale of carrying out this research on this play is as follows: Domestic (married) woman portrayal in media? How religion can be used for woman harassment in domestic affairs and consequences? How human relationships can be disturbed by telling lies, taking fake oaths on Holy Books and putting allegations on innocent people?

Sometimes woman fights against many strange persons and situations to safe her martial life or relationship besides having feelings of self-pity and self-assassination. What are the reasons behind it? Domestic violence on women Pakistan is counted among those countries that falls in the headlines due to domestic and gender-based harassment issues. The ratio of sexual harassment victims is alarmingly getting high in Pakistan. Domestic violence is physical, sexual, psychological or financial violence that takes place within an intimate relationship and forms a pattern of coercive and controlling behavior. This can include ‘forced marriage’ and ‘honour crimes’.

* Pakistan is an Islamic state where 70 percent girls are forced to get married on their parent’s choice in rural and urban areas and choice marriages are still rare due to prevailing feudal culture of the society. Culturally and ethically, women are bound to pass their lives as per their husbands will and under his supremacy and authority. * Divorce in any case is not tolerable even in well-educated and sophisticated families and a divorce woman cannot pass a ‘stable’ life ahead. Choice marriages (boy/girl) are considered as a severe crime. * Repression of women continues even after marriage at the hands of husbands or in-laws. The worst form of married woman’s conflict is with her mother-in-law. In most of the divorce cases, mother-in-law or sister-in-law have played a primary role. * The husband or any close relative from the family can show doubts on woman’s character/ extra-marital affair. In some cases, husbands are found killing or divorcing their wives on these issues. Concept of Oath-taking on Holy Book Religious aspect is also very important in our society.

Sometimes, woman has to justify herself in front of the whole family by taking an oath on ‘Quran’ which is considered as giving decision of conflict in Allah’s Almighty’ s hand. This custom is called as “Quran Uthana” in our society commonly practiced in four provinces of Pakistan. If the oath is completely based on truth, it will save her life forever but if the oath taken on Quran will be on false statement; the situation will be vice verse. I will mention a saying of Hazrat Imam Hussain (AS) “Do not be aggressive towards a person who has nobody to defend against you except Allah”.

Never take a false oath by Allah as a witness keeping hand on Quran, as it is one of the major sins in Islam. Do not make your oaths a means of deceiving one another or your foot will slip after it was firmly placed and you will taste evil for barring access to the way of Allah and you will have a terrible punishment. (Quran: Nahl, 16:92) Those who sell Allah’s contract and their own oaths for a paltry price, such people will have no portion in the next world, and on the ray of rising Allah will not speak to them or look at them or purify them. They will have a painful punishment. (Quran: Al Imran, 3:77)

Methodology: This study is an attempt to examine the relationship between gender and media as well as media dependency on religious norms of the society. It focuses on the female gender harassment at domestic level by giving religious justifications. This issue has been depicted brilliantly in one of the Pakistani TV drama serials “Meri Zaat Zara-e-Benishan” in 2009-2010. For a purposeful study, this play, its dialogues, scenes, characterization, religious aspects, impact on female viewers has been studied and deeply reviewed by the researcher under the methodology of content analysis and survey.


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