Pakistan’s drama industry thrives on controversy and shock value, and it seems to be leading the charge with its insensitivity towards sensitive topics. Let’s get real here: Pakistani dramas have always had a love affair with controversial subjects, and they seem to have hit a new low by exploiting violence and rape incidents. Every month brings a fresh dose of trauma on our TV screens, packaged as prime-time entertainment. This isn’t just about one or two instances – it’s a pattern becoming impossible to ignore.

What’s even more infuriating is the audacity with which these topics are handled. The graphic portrayal of violence and rape not only trivialises survivors’ pain but also numbs the audience to the gravity of these crimes. The recent drama
“Hadsa” has been sparking controversy for having contrasting similarities with the Motorway incident. Reportedly, the survivor of the incident released her statement of how triggering it is for such survivors to watch their life incidents being cashed on TV broadcasts.

Critics might argue that it’s all for the sake of ratings, and that’s where things get messy. Sure, tackling sensitive issues is important, but there’s a stark difference between doing it responsibly and exploiting it for cheap thrills. It’s high time the industry realises that.

In an interview with Frieha Altaf, Yasir Hussain mentioned that dramas normalise such behaviour by portraying women as docile and allowing them to put up with physical violence without objecting. He questioned why such shows, primarily produced for increased TRP ratings, are unnecessary. Tere Bin, Hum Kahan k Sachay thay, and the list goes on for the absurd dramas that are producing trash content to promote awareness for the masses.

From January 1, 2023, to April 30 2023, 10,365 cases of violence against women were reported to the police; while looking at specific types of crimes, a high number of 5,551 women were kidnapped in Punjab during these four months, which meant that on average, after every single hour, two women were kidnapped.

On the contrary: The subject of domestic and sexual abuse has occasionally been addressed in dramas past, such as Kankar, Gul-e-Rana and Udaari. These were the dramas in which gender-based violence served as the central theme throughout the entire story. The climax was calling out predators and assigning them responsibilities. The issue with modern dramas is how casually gender-based violence is portrayed in these works. They are not addressed as crucial plot events, and the violent characters in the drama do not suffer any consequences. We are driving women to the edge by normalising physical assault and victimisation of them in dramas.