Time and again we see in TV dramas that a family is worried about how or when they will be rid of their daughter’s responsibility by marrying them off. Either this or daughters are forced to stay in abusive marriages to save face. This idea is reiterated in the latest hit drama, Dushman-e-Jaan. While it is Mohib Mirza’s character Hatim, whose story is the focal point, poor Rubab (Madiha Imam) is being considered a burden on the sidelines that no one seems to notice.
From the start of the show, when Rubab’s elder sister Ramsha (Tooba Siddiqui) was alive, she was bent on trying to get Rubab married to write off one of her ‘duties’ towards her family. In her hurry to get rid of her sister, she was forcing Rubab to marry her (Ramsha’s) ex-fiance Zaheer, who broke off his engagement with Ramsha and sent a proposal for Rubab instead. This would hardly look favourable for a guy but Ramsha emotionally blackmailed her sister to say yes, so they have fewer responsibilities left.
Then, after Ramsha passed away, Zaheer’s family broke off the engagement (no surprise there). The reason being the fact that shame has been brought to the family name due to Ramsha being raped before she was brutally murdered (another questionable aspect). After this, her father arranges Rubab’s marriage to a widower with children. When Hatim rescues Rubab from the marriage by bringing the man’s real identity to light, her father is more concerned with how shameful this will be for the family than being grateful. He even goes as far as saying, “Even if he was a crook, at least Rubab would’ve been married.”
Due to this guilt, Hatim ends up marrying Rubab, seemingly ‘saving’ her from shame. By this point, this girl is so traumatized that she believes she has no right to happiness because she’s ‘tainted’. The confusion persists with writing here as we are unable to comprehend why Rubab is such a massive burden on the family that everyone is trying to marry her off by hook or by crook. The girl is managing (or at least trying to manage) everything after her sister’s death. She has been running around town trying to manage the house and help her father and brother, so why are they in a rush to get rid of her? They use Ramsha’s death as the ‘shameful aspect’ that pushes the urgency around Rubab’s marriage. However, that’s simply not enough; firstly because Ramsha’s MURDER wasn’t her fault and secondly, because girls are NOT a burden anyway.
We often see in dramas (Khaas is another recent example) that women need saving by knights in shining armour or else they can’t have the confidence to stand up for themselves. Ramsha was an anomaly to the stereotype but even she was killed by the mistake a man (Hatim) made. It’s incredibly damaging to the collective mentality of the viewers to show that women need men to lead happy and fulfilled lives. And not just once, but this one character has had to go through the shame train THREE times. There definitely could’ve been a better way to shape the story.Â