In the latest episode of society having a complete disregard for personal boundaries, news of Mahira Khan’s alleged ‘pregnancy’ took the internet by storm on Monday. Usually reputable Indian outlets, including Times of India, Pinkvilla, and News18, all published reports sourcing a Reddit user’s baseless claims, and several Pakistani online pages followed suit.
The claims came with add-ons, suggesting that Khan would now be abandoning her upcoming Netflix project, Jo Bachey Sang Samait Lo and another yet-to-be-titled film. Many were quick to question the credibility of the source making these claims, while others were quick to share the reports without fact-checking — as usual.
Khan, however, rubbished the rumours in a conversation with The Express Tribune, confirming that she’s “not pregnant” and certainly hasn’t left the Netflix series. But while the internet moves on from capitalising on yet another baseless claim about a public figure’s private matter, there is much to be discussed about public figures’ right to privacy, the open and shut cases of slut-shaming women when they come out with maternity shoots and the curiosity surrounding their pregnancy and bodies when they don’t.
Back in 2018, a fake screenshot doctored to pose as a Dawn.com news article about PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz surfaced on social media, misleading the public and stakeholders by suggesting that she was expecting. Most recently, Sarwat Gilani and Armeena Khan were trolled for posting pictures flaunting their baby bumps while Minal Khan had to turn off comments for harmless pictures from her baby shower. Aiman Khan was trolled for her postpartum weight gain while Mariam Ansari had to share a video expressing her frustration over the “amount of hate” she’d been receiving for announcing her pregnancy with an adorable picture.
Khan may be the latest victim of a pregnancy farce but she certainly won’t be the last, given our society’s insatiable interest in women’s bodies and what they should do with them. Even after her clarification, The Legend of Maula Jatt star was scrutinised for not being pregnant.
Believe it or not, upon receiving the news of her clarification, one internet user felt the need to encourage Khan to get pregnant under a Galaxy Lollywood post. Meanwhile, another expressed unhinged curiosity about whether the superstar could get pregnant or not. Both users age-shamed the actor in their gross and unsolicited remarks, however, this isn’t out of the norm.
The incident involving Khan highlights the insidious nature of media intrusion and the perpetuation of harmful stereotypes surrounding pregnancy. This reckless dissemination of unverified information not only tarnishes the reputation of the individual involved but also underscores a disturbing trend in modern journalism — prioritising sensationalism over accuracy.
The tone-deaf responses to Khan’s clarification further reinforce the notion that a woman’s worth is tied to her ability to bear children. Such remarks not only lack empathy but also highlight the toxic culture of body policing.
Pregnancy, like any other aspect of a person’s life, is deeply personal and should be treated with utmost respect and sensitivity. The cavalier attitude of media outlets in spreading baseless rumours not only undermines journalistic integrity but also contributes to the normalisation of invasive gossip culture.
But while we hold journalists and publications to a higher standard, expecting them to report responsibly, we need to take ownership of our responsibility as individuals on social media in respecting individuals’ privacy and refraining from indulging in salacious gossip. Whether Mahira Khan is pregnant or not and whether that is good for her or not is none of our business and it shouldn’t be yours either.