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9 Jun

Why are female characters with past romantic relationships being punished in Pakistani dramas?

Pakistani dramas

A few Pakistani dramas are trying to build a narrative around female characters which is… ridiculous to say the least. With Hamna in Ishqiya and Sanam in Dil Ruba, we’re suddenly getting the feeling that TV producers want us to believe that if a girl dates before marrying someone else, her past will haunt her forever. However, no such rule exists for a man.

So, why the sudden lack of redemption for women?

In Ishqiya we see that Hamna (Ramsha Khan) is being tormented by her ex-boyfriend, Hamza (Feroze Khan), for marrying someone else. We agree to the point that Hamna was at fault initially. However, now the deed is done and out of spite, Hamza married Hamna’s younger sister Rumaisa (Hania Amir). So, isn’t seeing her ex as her sister’s husband, punishment enough? Clearly not, as we are still having to suffer through full episodes of Hamza tormenting Hamna by constantly meddling in her life and blackmailing her with their chats and pictures.


Hamna as she listens to an old voice note sent by Hamza where she is heard expressing her love for him


At one point they even show Hamza cross quite a few boundaries and corner Hamna into a very uncomfortable encounter. The poor girl can’t catch a break. And all because of a mistake she made in her past. We see that clearly Azeem’s (Hamna’s husband) taciturn personality was a better fit for Hamna and Roomi’s outspoken expressiveness a better fit for Hamza. So why is the show being dragged to force further torment on Hamna?


Ramsha Khan as Hamna and Feroze Khan as Hamza


Read: The curious case of ‘the other woman’ in Pakistani dramas

Another show circling around the same narrative is Hania Amir’s Dil Ruba. In that show, Hania plays Sanam, some 17-18-year-old schoolgirl who leads on several guys who believe they’re in a fully-committed relationship with her. She leaves all of this when she gets married to her cousin, Razi (Nabeel Zuberi). However, Razi dies in a car accident after learning of his wife’s past and accuses her of being untrustworthy right before dying. It’s quite obvious that the show revolves around punishing a girl for playing around with several guys at once. However, now that Razi has died, Sanam’s torment hasn’t ended. One of her past lovers is stalking her again while she finds out that she is pregnant with Razi’s child. She is also living in fear of her family finding out about her past.


Pakistani dramas

Hania Amir as Sanam and Asad Siddiqui as Ayaaz, her stalker/ex-lover


What we would like to know is, why this stigma around a girl’s past? Simultaneously we’re seeing more and more rivalries in dramas between women fighting for married/committed guys. Alishba in Ishqiya, Shanzey in Pyar Ke Sadqay, Guriya in Ghalati and many more. They don’t seem to mind that the guy is in love with someone else. They’re just used as props to show the desirability of the guy and create torment for the wife.

A universe where a guy is acceptable to women in any shape or form, after having done as many flirtations as they want, why does a woman have to be pious from birth to even be considered by a man and to live a happy life ahead?

While infidelity is unforgivable in any instance be it a man or a woman, why create entire storylines around how a woman’s dating life BEFORE marriage, will torment her forever? We genuinely hope this doesn’t become a trend in upcoming dramas since we already have to deal with the ‘other-woman’ storylines and subplots in every other show.


Eman Lakhany