As social media outrage soars, Hadiqa Kiani denies her drama Hadsa is based on the 2020 motorway rape

As social media outrage soars, Hadiqa Kiani denies her drama Hadsa is based on the 2020 motorway rape

She claims that it is not based on any one person's story, "it is based off of a sickly common part of our reality" but many people feel otherwise.
Updated 29 Aug, 2023

Actor Hadiqa Kiani has denied that her ongoing drama Hadsa is based on the gang rape of a French woman of Pakistani-origin in front of her three children on the Sialkot-Lahore Motorway in September 2020.

A description for the Geo TV drama reads, “Hadsa follows the life of Taskeen (Kiani), a headstrong and opinionated woman who leads a happy and successful life with her loving husband and children. The wedding preparations for her eldest son’s marriage are underway however, a sudden and horrific incident shatters Taskeen’s world, leaving her grappling with its aftermath.

“Her once-content life is now a complex web of emotions, trauma, and uncertainty. As she battles to reclaim her life and struggle her way forward. Will Taskeen find the strength to heal and recover? Can her family provide the support she desperately needs? How will their dynamics transform as they confront the unexpected chaos that has engulfed their lives?”

Many people believe the drama draws from the motorway rape, an incident that shook the country. Journalist Fereeha M Idrees claimed on X that the producers of the show had not taken permission from the survivor to use her story.

People expressed their disgust at the mere idea of using the survivor’s story without her consent.

Others criticised the show’s treatment of sexual assault and its graphic portrayal of it.

Many argued that using the story of someone’s assault is akin to making them relive their trauma.

Some users spoke about the responsibilities that come with storytelling and whether the creators of the show will take responsibility for the real-world consequences of their work.

Social media is flooded with people discussing the ethics of using someone’s life or even elements of their life without their consent. However, in a statement posted on social media on Tuesday, Kiani denied that Hadsa took inspiration from the incident.

“To know that something I have been a part of is being used to hurt and trigger a survivor is something I cannot stand for,” she wrote.

“When I was asked to do the role of Taskeen for Hadsa my first question was ‘Is this related to the motorway incident?’ ‘Is this the project if it was based off of anyone’s story’. The team behind the project explicitly told me ‘No.’ After many conversations with the team and only after reading the script I understood that Hadsa was not related to or based off of the 2020 motorway story,” said the actor.

“Unfortunately the horrific act of rape and violence happens far too often in our society to men, women and children from all social classes and all regions — often it happens on the road  — in obstructed areas, too often family members are forced to witness the terror. These are the realities of the world we live in. I have sadly been exposed to many stories like this one but I can say that Hadsa is not based on any one person’s story, it is based off of a sickly common part of our reality.”

She addressed the traumatising aspect of showing rape and sexual violence on screen but said “episodes should air with trigger warnings, with a caution for all those who have been exposed to such evils.”

“I am in no position to say how survivors should respond — all I can say and hope for is that we bring the conversation regarding this evil forward, that we can all make strides to protect and empower survivors.”