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25 Mar

Did Ranjha Ranjha Kardi just normalize marital rape?

Ranjha Ranjha Kardi

Things have been very traumatic in drama serial Ranjha Ranjha Kardi, especially for Noori and her mentally challenged husband, Bhola, played brilliantly by Imran Ashraf. Episode 20 ended with the suggestion that Bhola had overdosed on his meds and riled up by his trouble-making friends, he took out his frustration on his wife, apparently attacking and raping her. Episode 20 ended with a suggestion of what may have happened but anything left to the imagination was then clarified this week, in Episode 21 when Noori is shown dealing with this change in Bhola’s character. There are a few things, I feel, that need to be realized before psycho-analyzing what happened.



Bhola is not a criminal but he has committed a crime.

We have to acknowledge the fact that even though Bhola is not a criminal – he is mentally challenged and his actions were influenced by an overdose of the wrong medication plus a destructive influence of his friends – he has committed a crime. Marital rape is a thing, even though there are various schools of thought on the subject. It’s a very sensitive subject and I do feel, since we are not religious scholars, that we cannot evaluate or explain the religious implications of the situation with authority. What we can safely deduce is that Bhola is often a hazard to people around him. He first attacked Rizwana Chachi with a bat (she could have died) and now he has sexually assaulted his wife. I use the word ‘assaulted’ as she is shown bruised and battered in the scene after. While marital rape is a sensitive subject, there can be no doubt that this situation also passes as domestic violence.

 

 

Bhola’s mother is to blame for normalizing the situation.

Bhola is a mentally challenged 26-year old. He cannot be held accountable for his actions. But his mother, as his guardian, can and should be held accountable. She keeps covering for his mistakes, trivializing them as if they’re innocent mistakes, which they’re not. I thought she would take severe action after learning how he has treated his wife but she doesn’t. She not only justifies his behavior but actually accuses Noori of not acting like a wife. She’s actually happy and feels that Bhola is acting ‘more normal’ if he has been able to ‘consummate’ his marriage. Noori is after all legally in his ‘Nikkah’ and he is her ‘Majazi Khuda’, she articulates.

 

 

Deewangi se hosh ki janib pehla qadam liya hai Bholay ne,” she says, smiling. This is the most disturbing part. And it gets worse when Noori also appears to be accepting the fact that she will be coerced into an unpleasant situation every night. She tries to avoid Bhola, coming to their bedroom to sleep when he appears to be asleep, but he waits up for her. Ominously so. And life moves on for them. Tragically so. I do wish this hadn’t been the case, though, and that a bigger deal had been made of what has happened. This could have been a great way of educating people on the matter. Otherwise what was the purpose of it if not to twist the plot?

 

 

What happens now in Ranjha Ranjha Kardi is yet to be seen but I have an inkling that Noori will get pregnant and Nusrat Chacha’s dreams of mentally and physically crippling Bhola so much that he never has an heir, will be smashed. That could be the only purpose of this disturbing development. Though it still, of course, does not justify it.

PS. In this country it’s difficult enough getting a woman justice for being raped, let alone being raped by her husband. Is it too much to expect a drama serial to take up the subject? What are your thoughts?

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Aamna Haider Isani

The author is Editor-in-Chief at Something Haute as well as Editor at Instep, The News. Full time writer, critic with a love for words and an intolerance for typos.

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