Did the ‘Mere Paas Tum Ho’ Frenzy Divert Attention from Hooz Noor?
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Mere Paas Tum Ho was undoubtedly one of the most popular dramas in recent times. But did it snatch the spotlight from a sad tragedy and some much-needed reforms?
In the past few years, Pakistan has become prey to widespread sexual assaults against children. According to the latest Sahil Report, 7 children are abused daily in Pakistan. There are laws in place, but the execution is not very effective.
There is also the problem of how unsufficient the laws and reforms are to discourage such acts. For example, the maximum punishment for child pornography in Pakistan is 2-7 years in prison. Several convicts are imprisoned much longer than that for petty crimes.
From the Zainab Case to Hooz Noor Case, there has been a gap of 2 years. It is apparent the situation has not improved. The country remains unsafe for children. The molestation, corporal punishments in Madrassahs, child sex trafficking, and child marriages continue unchecked.
Many people have demanded the child sex abuse should be punishable by death sentence. Even if the pedophiles are convicted, after completing their sentences they can get out and continue being a risk for society. Not to mention they put the thousands of juveniles in prison at risk too.
There have been some protests as well, but the media has not been giving this the attention it should get. Because Pakistani media has been busy with a much juicier story than the Hooz Noor case.
Mere Paas Tum Ho Conundrum
Last week a woman filed a petition to prevent the screening of Mere Paas Tum Ho last episode. The case was heard and the judge dismissed the complaint.
The cast and the channel have been busy promoting the show before its last episode. There were interviews, special shows, promotion on all the major social media outlets, all the works.
Mere Paas Tum Ho last episode was aired on 25th January 2020. Thousands across Pakistan must have tuned in to watch it.
The other channels even gave news stories about the much-anticipated ending of the beloved show.
The only problem in this is that all of this has happened only a few days after an unthinkable tragedy took place. While the media has been busy gushing over a work of fiction, the reality is getting neglected.
Remember Hooz Noor
The seven-year-old Hooz Noor was raped and murdered on Tuesday, 14th January in Nowshera. Two men were arrested on Sunday when the locals captured them and handed them to police.
One of them confessed to assaulting the little girl and then trying to drown her body. The family members who had been out looking for the little angel had found the men strangling her.
While the men have been caught it is little relief for the family who has lost their child to such brutality. Even if the two men are behind the bars, there is no assurance they will be given the punishment they deserve. More importantly, nothing is being done to discourage other pedophiles.
Justice for Hooz Noor quickly became a popular tag on social media after the incident was reported. Quite a few people used the Justice for Hooz Noor tag to demand the death sentence for pedophiles.
A Not-So-Responsible Media
No doubt the Pakistani dramas are loved by hundreds of thousand viewers. But the question here is of basic decency and moral responsibility. If the mega channels, social media pages, magazines, and papers can gush over ‘Mere Paas Tum Ho’ non-stop for weeks, they can spare a little time to bring attention to the safety of children.
The showrunners, the cast, and the channel all could have minimized the pomp and show for the last episode. Or they could have postponed it in respect of the tragedy that is Hooz Noor case.
But maybe they don’t consider it a ‘tragedy’. Child sex abuse has become a routine matter for our media. Only worth running a few minute’s news in daily bulletin, not grand enough for all the time that went into shows and promotions for a drama.
No ‘activist’ filed any petition for Hooz Noor case. Compared to work they put in to prevent Mere Paas Tum Ho last episode from being screened, they could have given half of that into throwing light on child sex abuse.
But maybe the nation has become so unsensitized to the problems of the real-world, they prefer living in the make-believe world of the fiction.
While Twitter has been demanding Justice for Hooz Noor, it has completely disappeared from Twitter trends after the Mere Paas Tum Ho last episode aired. This is just one week after the Hooz Noor case.
Justice for Hooz Noor
Here are some recommendations for Pakistani media. Now that the Mere Paas Tum Ho last episode has aired, and hopefully, we can spare some time for making the country safe for our children.
Starting an awareness campaign on all the major channels. Spread the message about the dangers of leaving children unattended, even with family members. Trusting drivers to pick-and-drop your children, the Madrassah teachers, or leaving children with relatives and associates can put your child at risk.
Explain the importance of teaching the children to report if they see anything and to protect themselves.
Lobby to get the much-needed law amendments. The creation of a sex-offender registry, an increase in sentences for sexual abuse offenders, violence against children and child marriages and other such laws can discourage crimes against children.
Question the efficiency of the police in enforcing the laws and force them to improve.
Demanding justice for Hooz Noor, Zainab, and all other little angels deserve your attention much more than a drama. Pakistani media needs to get its priorities straight. There are real issues that need the same attention that is given to dramas such as ‘Mere Paas Tum Ho‘, the most important of which is making this country safe for our children.