'Change doesn't come overnight': Mawra Hocane responds to criticism of marital rape in Qissa Meherbano Ka

'Change doesn't come overnight': Mawra Hocane responds to criticism of marital rape in Qissa Meherbano Ka

The actor took to Instagram to explain her character's motivations and why she won't leave her abusive husband.
21 Dec, 2021

When it comes to regressive storylines and depictions of violence, there is no shortage of dramas in Pakistan. The latest drama to come under fire for showing and possibly condoning violence in the form of marital rape is Hum TV's Qissa Meherbano Ka starring Ahsan Khan, Mawra Hocane and Zaviyar Ejaz.

The drama that began by highlighting serious issues in its initial episodes, such as family separation, single-parenting and issues around inheritance, is now showing the downright abusive relationship between Meherbano (Hocane) and Murad (Khan). The last three minutes of the 15th episode, which aired two weeks ago, grabbed everyone's attention for a display of marital rape.

In the 16th episode that aired on December 18, Meherbano justified the rape and said it was Murad's "right" to be with her as he pleased.

A Twitter user wondered why the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) was ignoring this. "It almost looks like an attempt to normalise this disgusting behaviour," the user said.

A netizen pointed out that Murad's offences were compounded by the fact that his wife was pregnant.

Another suggested that the TV channel needs to do better with the way they want to highlight certain topics.

One user wondered why Khan keeps taking these roles — he played an abusive spouse in Qayamat as well.

Murad in episode 18.
Murad in episode 18.

It would be one thing if Murad was painted entirely as the villain but he is the main character and there is a likelihood that the show's creators will try to redeem him later. The problem here is not that marital rape is shown — though there definitely should be a trigger warning before it. It is that this rapist is poised to possibly become the hero and is likely to be absolved of his crime.

One user tweeted that there's no harm in portraying an evil person as evil as long as they are labelled as such. "Murad is evil, not a hero," they wrote.

People were disgusted and triggered by the scene that definitely could have used a content warning.

Some were tired of the constant rehashing of misery and toxicity on our TV screens.

One user believed that with this scene, Murad is too far gone to be painted as the hero.

Hocane responded to the criticism of the show with a textbook definition of marital rape.

“Marital rape is defined as the forceful act of consummation by the husband with his wife without her explicit approval,” she wrote.

But while her tweet didn't make clear her stance on the scene, her Instagram post was clearer as she capitalised the word 'explicit'. She also responded to several comments on Instagram.

Regarding her character's justification of the rape, Hocane said those were the sarcastic words of a traumatised woman. "It takes a lifetime for women to see the light at the end of the tunnel," she said, calling the drama their "humble attempt to give a resolution while being practical and not take the dramatic licence and turn the woman into a hero overnight."

She also addressed why her character is still in the abusive relationship and said “change doesn’t come overnight”. We have to show a practical resolution, most women live with this reality for their entire lives, we shall InshaAllah attempt to give a solution for that.”

Amongst many comments praising her acting, Hocane also received criticism from viewers who found Meherbano's silence disturbing.

"To deal with an issue first we have to portray how deep rooted the issue is, the false beliefs that make a woman stay with someone, the guilt, the lack of awareness and finally the recognition of strength within. We can't show a heroic woman as that would be too non practical a solution to be preached to the remotest areas of our country," she replied.

However, her response one comment in which a user expressed how uncomfortable and angry they were to watch the rape scene, was rather baffling.

The user said the multiple rape scenes had made them feel uncomfortable and that she was angry at Hocane's character for being so scared. In response, the actor replied with a "we understand". We aren't sure what they understand because they clearly don't seem to understand the need for trigger warnings. We hope they understand that there is no coming back from this for Murad and that he cannot be turned into a hero.

We aren't sure where the drama is headed but we can only hope it ends with Murad in jail for his crimes and Meherbano free of this situation but judging from the way Pakistani dramas usually go, we aren't going to get what we want.


Sane Mind1st Dec 21, 2021 03:49pm
Seemed ok to me since anyways Pakistani women are willing to become wife number2, wife number three and all with out any regrets. So that gives the men in the society these liberties. Bitter truth but truth nonetheless.
M. Saeed Dec 21, 2021 06:36pm
Every crime TV drama aired these days is devoid of simple logic. The observer notices the obvious reasons of a crime but, the victim. It is strange that, nobody knows the first question in a crime investigation? That is, the beneficiary of a committed crime? This question remains unanswered even at end.
Ali da Malanga Dec 21, 2021 08:29pm
The golden age of TV dramas was from the 1970s and 1980s when classic dramas were released written by writers like Amjad Islam Amjad (Waris, Samandar, etc.), Haseena Moeen (Uncle Urfi, Tanhaiyan, etc.), Fatima Surriya (Shama, etc.), Ashfaq Ahmed, Younis Javed (Andheera Ujala, etc.) and many more impacted writers. Those dramas didn't show any of these contents and were so popular that shopkeepers would close down their shops when they were aired.
Hanif Dec 21, 2021 10:31pm
That's the only issue in our culture?, what kind of drama are we trying to produce. I am sick of Pakistani Dramas, what about the dramas that can construct the society, give them examples of nice and honest people, not the example of Wicked and evil characters. this is the lowest I have seen in Pakistani Drama.
Queen Dec 21, 2021 11:24pm
I stopped watching Pakistani dramas long time ago because of the highly regressive story line and the influx of ads in between. Will not watch any Pakistani drama unless and until we get writers of the Cali we of Haseena Moin sahiba and Fatima Surraiya Bajiya.
Ibrahim S Dec 21, 2021 11:40pm
Does anyone understand the meaning of marital rape, spousal rape and sexual assault on spouses. When you marry someone, does it give you a right to "OWN" that person and use as your personal property. Please don't bother consulting CII - Their answer will not surprise you
Syed Abbas (UK) Dec 22, 2021 04:13am
So many negative comments on social media. Why can't people understand that what is happening in the drama is in fact a reflection of our toxic society. I have seen and heard things like this when I was a kid, growing up. The drama is not glorifying wrong actions, it is displaying them to educate people. I think what HUM TV can do a better job. Then can add subtitles to state what is being presented by the character is wrong. Hire me Hum TV, I can fix this .. Lol
Maryam Siddique Dec 22, 2021 04:49am
Mawra Hocane is studying law so I think we should watch next few episodes before judging the drama to condone marital rape. I think the drama has highlighted the concept of Mera Jism Meri Marzi and maybe someone censored next few episodes to ignore the marital rape issue the drama would have raised.
Uday Dec 22, 2021 04:59am
Marital rape!! 95% pakistaniyo ko to pata bhi nahi hoga yeh kya cheez hai.
N_Saq Dec 22, 2021 10:33am
It’s a drama and not reality. Just enjoy the entertainment and if you don’t like it then don’t watch it. If everybody boycott it then the writers will be forced to do it right.
neha sharma Dec 22, 2021 11:31am
@Syed Abbas (UK) Hum TV has always glorified domestic violence, marital rape, polygamy and incestuous first cousin marriages.
Em Al Dec 25, 2021 10:26pm
As a mental health practitioner, I can tell you that yes, marital rape exists. Men know what they are doing and they keep doing it while denying that a husband can rape a wife. And they do it by referring to "social responsibility, family, cultural , Islamic values, full filling their duties". Women justify it because they have internalized the misogyny and unaware that the ptsd caused by marital rape is truth. Just like few decades ago, people did not believe in mental health issues and psychological health, its just the same. Why would a criminal admit that a certain crime is a crime? Simple as that.
Yaseen Raza Dec 28, 2021 03:14am
Fantastic article