From cheating spouses and women lusting after their sisters' husbands to greedy villains willing to 'buy' affection and men who mistake stalking as flattery, there is no shortage of problematic content in Pakistani television.
Fahad Mustafa's latest production, Dunk, appears to fall into the same category. Starring renowned actor Noman Ijaz as the protagonist, the teaser shows him as a professor who has been accused of sexual harassment and the toll it takes on his life — personal and professional.
Now, the intent to show that someone accused falsely of any crime — be it rape or murder — has to go through undeserved trauma is justified. But are there more falsely accused individuals than those who have been sexually harassed? No. Is making a TV serial that is tackling the extremely sensitive topic of 'false accusations' a disservice to the struggle of harassment victims? Yes.
In a society where more questions are raised on the character of the person coming forward with a personal story of harassment than the person being accused, do we need to push the narrative of 'she is lying' over 'believe her'?
The Jeeto Pakistan host called the show a "tribute to victims who have been wrongly accused", adding that as a producer, "it is my responsibility to tell every kind of story".
“I think brands should take a stand and set an example by working with the people who have been falsely accused of sexual harassment, to support them and clear their name,” he went on to say.
Again, we wish Fahad had called on brands to disassociate themselves with people accused of wrongdoings instead of asking them to be a part of "clearing their names". Brands have a big responsibility of choosing the right people to endorse their product — should they be approaching people who have been accused of something as serious as sexual harassment? Of course not.
Fahad is so sympathetic to certain celebs losing out on deals because of the accusations; it would do him good to speak to survivors of harassment and learn how they lose out on years, relationships and even jobs because of the trauma they endure.
Also, who exactly is handing out these labels of being falsely accused? Has a court of law? If not, who is Fahad or anyone else to say someone has been 'falsely accused'. Just like you can't call someone a rapist if they are accused of rape — and not convicted — you can't say someone has been falsely accused just because they deny it.
In a society where survivors are mostly dismissed when they come forth with their stories and reporting is already a hurdle on its own, Fahad's attempt at empathy with the 1 per cent did not sit well with the audiences, who were furious and considered this a huge step back in the little progress that was being made in the #MeToo movement in the country.
Some raised questions
While others were out of words
Some gave out advice
While this one absolutely nailed it
Creating greater hurdles to report, they said
Only in Pakistan
They have a point
Some highlighted the hypocrisy
While others were just angry
A shame, really
Any producers reading this? Hint, hint
Film and drama are storytelling, yes. But Fahad, an actor and producer who has been around long enough and is part of a society which is failing in protecting its victims, needs to do better. So much better.