Updated Oct 09, 2016 10:44am

This TV drama will explore a long-ignored taboo topic: intersex children

A woman and her husband argue over whether they want to keep their newborn. The wife's mother is distraught by the child's arrival, the husband's mother prefers that it rather be pronounced dead.

These are reactions to the birth of an intersex child.

Upcoming TV drama Khuda Mera Bhi Hai will put us face to face with the discrimination faced by intersex individuals ('hijras' in local speak) — from the very beginning of their lives.

Starring Aisha Khan and Syed Jibran as the parents, the drama serial pits Aisha's maternal instinct to protect her child from harm against Jibran and wider society's perception of intersexed people.

"When I was researching the story, doctors told me stories that still give me goosebumps," tells The Crew Films' Head of Films Asma Nabeel, who makes her TV screenwriting debut with this ARY Digital drama. "[Doctors told me that] parents either hide the reality and curse the child for the rest of its life, or give it away at the time of birth."

"Having two children myself, I know the kind of pressures mothers can face. Mothers stand up for their children on so many occasions, and there are single mothers who raise children on their own. When I based the whole drama around the parents, I decided that the mother in my story will be a very strong character."

With a topic most people would sweep under the rug, it's surprising that producers bet on a risky venture like this, but ARY Head of Content Ali Imran says they do it all the time.

"Our TV channel has often made dramas that addressed societal taboos; this includes projects like Roag that dealt with child abuse and Khushi that was about adoption," he begins.

"I'm so surprised by criticism that we only do serials featuring crying women. No channel has experimented more than ours. Sure, we do the formulaic TV dramas too, but we also do alternative dramas. As a writer, I believe that TV [shapes the minds] of people. It can sensitivise an audience to various issues. So we make sure to produce TV serials that also challenges the status quo in some way."

"We expect a backlash from certain religious quarters, but we're prepared to fight the good fight. It's the least we could do."

Asma spoke to a number of intersex people, three gynecologists and some school management officials as research for her story. Staff of a major Pakistani school chain told her that they've never had parents bring an intersex child for admissions. "'It's always either a boy or a girl,' they said."

"It's not like the issue is not there, our acceptance is lacking," says Asma. "I used to wonder whether our [gender-coded] system of behaviour is made by God or made by society. I realised that it is made by society. So then, I wrote this story."

The writer hopes her story will play a small part in integrating intersex people in mainstream society.

"My only request to the audience would be to care about the drama's message beyond its hype period. Respect the people, offer some help, give them jobs. I don't want to create hype around me or my writing, but to push for some small change in society. It doesn't happen with one project, but if the dialogue starts, it could eventually lead to some governmental level change. That should be our goal."

Khuda Mera Bhi Hai begins airing on October 22nd.

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Comments (33) Closed



aslam shaikh Oct 08, 2016 09:21am

Only media people can come up with weird topics to get higher ratings. TV is no longer a family entertainment.

Zain Hasan Oct 08, 2016 10:13am

Glad we can have dramas like these which are educational and hold mirror to society rather than the masala dramas that serve no purpose except bringing the IQ down of our audience.

Rabia Naz Khan Oct 08, 2016 10:33am

It is really a good initiative. We must address the issues of our society with what ever power we have. its not the responsibility of government only. We all can do it. Then only the change will come. Appreciations!

Dr Sal Zaidi Oct 08, 2016 11:14am

Well, I don't think Pakistani or Muslims are ready to face realities of their culture/religion and general ignorance. BTW, babies born with sexual organs, insignificant, small or even absent, can be treated by surgical procedures, so such dramas are not really that necessary. It shall be challenging the Mullah. I see no real development in acceptance of such people in the society. They shall suffer even more. It is opening the Pandora's Box. Pakistani and Muslims need education that is necessary to avoid belligerency that we are victims of. Sorry to be passive.

TZaman Oct 08, 2016 11:40am

Thank you, for teaching us to be kind and humane.

Salma Oct 08, 2016 11:47am

great idea to bring up this topic..here in Malaysia, they are treated with respect, just like any other female or male..we should accept them in our societ and treat equally in Pakistan too..giving them respectable jobs etc..no harm to it

Haider Oct 08, 2016 01:09pm

Why do you expect a 'backlash' from religious quarters? Isn't that a little presumptuous of you? It's not that they've advocated abandoning intersex children and your drama is responding to them. Quit trying to create the illusion of a controversy when there is none, just to make your drama more contentious and popular.

Rabia Oct 08, 2016 01:34pm

First of all the concept of drama is not new. We can already see a drama with this concept on an Indian channel. Yes, these people need to be treated humanely as every living being is Allah's creation.

Thoroughthinker Oct 08, 2016 04:05pm

It still is by far a taboo subject. The general concept about our dramas is only fictional and not related in any way to life. We must find solutions through modern science and have independent and discreet counselling and educational material on the subject.

Faisal Oct 08, 2016 06:02pm

@Haider

Because anything sexual should not be discussed in out society , and the 'religious quarters' make sure that mentally we stay in the 7th century.

Asif Oct 08, 2016 07:36pm

It will be appreciated if the medical and religious reasons are also researched and made part of the drama as a preamble to make it holistic , realistic and symbolic.

Karim Oct 08, 2016 07:50pm

I feel so bad for all the transexuals in the world. We never talk about them thus forget they exist and are humans just like the rest of us.

Khan USA Oct 08, 2016 08:36pm

These things need to be taught in every school especially about safe and unsafe touch . If we do not protect our kids then who would ? Children should never be allowed to be alone with anyone not a Mahrem . Unfortunately kids are also sexually assaulted by Mahrem too . Please watch your kids and do not let them go the people and places you don't trust . Talk to them everyday about their experiences and their apprehensions and try to build a trust with them so they share everything with you !

Khurram Oct 08, 2016 09:42pm

This is a good initiative. Intersex children are born like that due to no fault of their own, so who are we to judge them. They should have rights and be respected like everyone else. I really hope that this world becomes a more tolerant place towards accepting people who may be different than us, I also don't see this as a problem just in Pakistan but rather all over the world even in 1st world countries, the only difference is that it is more in 3rd world countries due to lack of education.

Asif Oct 08, 2016 09:46pm

It will be appreciated if the religious and medical reasons are researched and included a preamble to give it a holistic view and make the play symbolic. It will then alley the concerns of all stakeholders.

Umair Oct 08, 2016 09:52pm

@Haider : 100% agreed

Ahmad Oct 08, 2016 10:33pm

@Haider Sorry bro but I disagree. Our religious front has time and again proved 2 things. One is that their interpretation of religion is not even close to religion (bring bad name to our religion) and two that they have IQ which is less than room temperature in winters. These religious people have hijacked our society and it is time to get rid of these people or at least put restrains on them.

Munira Oct 08, 2016 10:38pm

True

Munira Oct 08, 2016 10:40pm

Learn to be humane and kind. Surgical procedure is the answer.

Alba Oct 09, 2016 12:36am

An "intersex child" is what? A hermaphrodite ? What are we taking about? A child with both sex organs? You don'r want to speak up? Just let the TV program do your talikg for you? I don't believe other people want to know about it either.

Ali Oct 09, 2016 12:57am

@Dr Sal Zaidi . So you are saying , people should go ahead and kill new born transgender babies. Are you really a doctor? People who kill a baby are called Murderers!!

Logicaldude Oct 09, 2016 12:58am

Dear Writer, I had to bring myself up to date on the definition of "intersex". Treatment of people of indeterminate sex in our society has been most deplorable. But don't these comprise of fewer than 1% of population. Shouldn't responsible media, in particular TV (the most influential of the media) be attempting to alter life experiences and treatment of the other 49.5% of population. I am thinking of women. Lack of education, their cruel and demeaning treatment, physical and psychological abuse, censure and punishment they suffer for choosing who they marry.

Ali Oct 09, 2016 03:41am

No doubt, such issues need to be discussed and taken seriously before THE BURNING FLAME HIDDENLY starts ruining the society on the large scale...

Dr. Yasmeen Kazi Oct 09, 2016 12:47pm

It says she spoke to gynaecologists. She should also have spoken to paediatricians and endocrinologists. The chromosomal sex has to be investigated and the sex of rearing decided soon after birth. Most of them are females. Many can be treated with hormones and surgical correction. If not treated, some which are 'salt losers' can go into shock and die.

Arifa Oct 09, 2016 03:42pm

Bravo. Courageous step.we need to be open minded and accepting of the diversity present in genders. Let us not relegate the intersex children to a life of abandoned frivolity.

POLITY Oct 09, 2016 03:55pm

It is a very sensitive subject therefore it must be presented very carefully without degrading people going through such a situation.

Sami Khan Oct 09, 2016 07:55pm

I am now 100% sure that Media has just started, what that was suppose to do by then. Really appreciating such initiatives and expose the social taboo. Good Luck

imran Oct 10, 2016 04:12am

looking forward

imran Oct 10, 2016 04:12am

@aslam shaikh this is family issue?

SM Oct 10, 2016 10:04pm

@aslam shaikh its because of people like you we need this awareness. This is reality which we must face, seeing transgender humans as one of us and not something that makes it NON FAMILY!

Zala Oct 11, 2016 01:27pm

It's a reality. We must bring it out in the open. How our society treats these children.

AS IF Oct 12, 2016 06:17am

@aslam shaikh TV is a medium for News, Info, Education and Entertainment. Take your pick and use your TV remote. Sorry to hear your views BTW.

Nazia Jalil Oct 13, 2016 12:14am

I love Syed Jibran! He's the cutest guy in showbiz these days.