It is good to see that television has started moving away from the typical ‘saas-bahu‘ dramas and is actually churning out content related to social awareness as well. We saw many such dramas, like Udaari, which dealt with child abuse. Another was Khuda Mera Bhi Hai, which dealt with the topic of transgenders finding a normal space in society, and many more. Another such drama that is currently airing is Baydardi, which is shedding light on the much-needed topic of HIV AIDS. It is a story about a young couple, both of whom suffer from AIDS. Here are five lessons from the show that help dismiss common myths and stigmas in society regarding AIDS:
1) AIDS Doesn’t Just Affect the Homeless Addicts Outside Data Darbar
The story follows the life of an upper-class family. The son, Shafay is friends with Rohail, who is shown to have a philandering lifestyle. He is also involved in drugs. It follows that Shafay contracts AIDS from Rohail. Shafay’s mother, Memoona (played by Bushra Ansari) upon learning of her son’s ailment gets him married to an unsuspecting Biya, who also contracts the disease. All those suffering belong to either the middle class or the upper class. So, AIDS is not just to be dismissed as a ‘poverty’ issue.
2) AIDS Does Not Occur Through Sexual Contact or Needle Sharing Alone.
This is perhaps the biggest takeaway from the show. Shafay contracts the virus from Rohail because the latter uses his shaving blade. A mere cut transfers the virus to Shafay, who otherwise is shown to be a decent individual in the show. When we hear of AIDS we imagine the victim of it as someone with a ‘dirty’ lifestyle. And in some extreme insensitivity, we also claim that the person had it coming. In either case, there is extreme sufferance, which only becomes worse with society’s lack of understanding towards what can and cannot spread AIDS in the first place
3) Keep Your Personal Hygiene Items Under Lock and Key
Although this follows logically from the preceding point, it is so important that it must be reiterated again. For students who particularly live in hostels or for people who are living with roommates, this isn’t just your standard issue of germophobia. Nor is it a case of mistrust. Both men and women must keep there personal hygiene items such a nail-cutters, shavers etc. in a place where even their accidental usage can be avoided. No, you aren’t accusing your roommate by such extreme measures. You are merely protecting your self and them from any unpleasant transfer of germs on each other’s things.
4) The Health System is Controversial, to Say the Least
It doesn’t matter if it is private or public healthcare, it is an extreme breach of privacy if the mother is able to get the results of her adult son’s medical reports. Shafay till very much after his wedding, finds out that he has AIDS. Heck, even Biya finds out she has AIDS through him before he knows of his own ailment. Memoona manages to keep Shafay away from the doctor far too long for the viewer not to notice how troubling the health system is. Not to blow the horn of western health systems too loudly, but they do ensure the privacy of the contractual and confidential nature of a doctor-patient relationship. This is something entirely missing in Pakistan and it must be addressed more seriously. Not everything can be passed off as a ‘cultural’ norm where parents always stay too close to their children.
5) A Woman With AIDS is Somehow More ‘Diseased’ in the Social Sense Than a Man Would Ever Be
Within hours of Shafay finding out that Biya has AIDS, she is thrown out of the house, her brother temporarily disowns her, she contemplates suicide, and she faces a lot of ridicule from various people while outside the house. Shafay, on the other hand, is acceptable to Memoona and her brother (Shafay’s mamu), even with the knowledge that he is responsible for Biya having AIDS. So like all things sexist in society, AIDS too comes with a heavier punishment for women as opposed to men. Because men can get away with behavior typically associated with AIDS, but women must be held more accountable for it, of course.
Baydardi has manifested several problems in society, both related to AIDS and otherwise. The show is almost at its climax and we can’t wait to see how it ends. Have you been following the show? If so, let us know of your thoughts in the comments below!