In light of the tragedy that has fallen upon us since Zainab’s murder case came forward, Pakistanis have been asking and answering some really difficult questions. For instance, how can we make sure that children are safe from abuse? Why aren’t the authorities taking action? But most important out of all these questions has been a rather self-critical one: what can I do to ensure a safer world for children?
Celebrities have been shaken by this tragedy as well. We saw severable notable names, such as Mahira Khan and Sahir Lodhi, make appearances at protests held outside Press Club. Many have taken to their social media accounts to share stories of their own abuse, such as Maheen Khan, Nadia Jamil and Frieha Altaf, to start a conversation on child abuse. But Mansha Pasha wonders what can celebrities do in their scope of work that can also help in safeguarding children.
An incident on a set of one of Mansha’s TV plays made her realize that celebrities should be raising their voices in other places too. “We were doing a scene, and they had to show two working maids in the household. So they brought in a lady and a young child to the scene. I asked the director why a child maid was being shown in this really big household, and I was told that this happens in big households. I said okay, maybe it happens in some homes but do we have to show it or encourage it like this?” Mansha decided to put her foot down and the director obliged.
“It got me thinking about the amount of responsibility on the shoulders of the media. There was one drama, Udaari, that spoke about child abuse but there are countless dramas that glorify rapists and murderers. For instance, there is another TV show nowadays called Khaani. I haven’t seen it but from what I’ve heard, it glorifies or romanticizes a murderer. There should be no story that glorifies or exempts a rapist or a murderer from their actions.”
Mansha also points out that Pakistani audience sometimes tends to take messages literally, adding that they sometimes have trouble identifying satire or criticism. “I get fan messages from people who speak to me like I’m the character in the play. And they say things like ‘Why are you doing this to your sister’ etc and I’m like that’s not real. I’m acting!” She explains that this is the reason why writers and directors should be more careful when writing stories and plays for television.
In conclusion, Mansha said that TV plays are causing harm with the kind of messages they are showing, specifically pertaining to the way women and children are treated and people in the industry need to be more responsible with what they’re teaching the audience.