A woman had to tend to her husband's fragile ego after her attempted rape in Aitebaar and that's not okay
The Pakistani drama industry has been criticised many a time for not dealing with sensitive issues with enough care and encouraging problematic behaviour instead. Drama Aitebaar released its second episode on Jan 31 and the way it depicted the aftermath of an attempted rape has netizens furious. The traumatised wife played by Zarnish Khan tries to make her husband (Syed Jibran) 'feel better' after she escaped a kidnapping and attempted rape but he refuses to believe her innocence.
The scene shows Khan telling her husband she escaped before anything could happen and asking him for support. However, he refuses to believe anything she says and throws a fit instead. He also makes the assumption that she has been raped and says he can't face her because "another man has touched" her.
Netizens are not okay with this show of toxicity. One user said she usually supports dramas based on rape victims but our drama industry has a toxic way of portraying survivors that ends in the woman spending "her whole life proving her innocence to everyone around her."
This user had a question about what the man had lost in the entire ordeal, especially compared to the woman's trauma. "Why is the man’s feelings even in the equation?" she asked.
Funny how the drama is labelled Aitebaar yet there is no trust between the spouses, as pointed out by this user.
Someone pointed out that even if she had been raped, it would not have been her fault. They picked on Khan's dialogue, "Mein abhi bhi wohi Pari hun [I am still the same Pari]," to highlight the fact that people don't become lesser versions of themselves even after they are subjected to violence.
Some recalled other dramas with similar plot lines. This user said a drama she watched with such a story caused her to stop watching Pakistani dramas entirely.
One user pointed out that Hum TV has the least "chawal [foolish]" dramas and made a special mention of one particular drama that has been on everyone's minds when it comes to toxicity for comparison. "Like all Hum TV's chawal drama combined are no match for Aye Musht-e-Khaak."
Aye Musht-e-Khaak is led by Feroze Khan who glorifies violence and rage in the name of love and has several scenes featuring graphic violence.
More users were reminded of dramas where "izzat [honour]" was prioritised over logic, sense and the truth.
Some just labelled the drama ridiculous.
Netizens also gave the producers of the show a piece of their minds under the video on Instagram, mad at Hum TV for promoting a negative message that may lead to dire consequences in real life.
In general, Pakistan needs a crash course on how to talk about rape. PM Imran Khan has faced backlash several times and been called a rape apologist. Talk show host Nida Yasir was criticised for asking insensitive questions from the parents of a young girl who was raped and murdered and the media as a whole needs to report rape with empathy rather than salacious intent.
Rape is never the fault of the victim and showing a husband who can't even look his wife in the eye after she survived an attempted rape is pathetic. Our society needs to understand that you can't blame the victim and you can't treat them like pariahs because it wasn't and will never be their fault. The entertainment industry would do well to show characters who are empathetic and supportive rather than men who need to be coddled after their wives go through something traumatic because of their fragile male egos.